Lions, 'ippo and park ranger man
Kruger National Park Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
October 10th, 2005 – by: mattango
By the time my brother Cain and I joined the immigration queue at Johannesburg airport, I was tired and grumpy! The queue took on the form of a funnel aimed at one cheerful black south african, I thought it would take forever but I waited patiently to experience AFRICA!
That night we stayed in Pretoria and met up with some of my brother's (Cain) work associates taking in a few of the local entertainment hot spots - I can't possibly tell you the names, even though I know!
The following morning we headed out to the Kruger National Park, 600km east of Pretoria.
A few moment later and cans of beer starting flying in through the window! One of them caught the edge of the window and skittered along the road behind us, spraying precious Carling Black Label over the tarmac.
After refreshing ourselves we start the long journey to the park. The roads are long. modern and straight and the only real signs that you're in Africa are the red soil, bush fires, single people occasionally walking along the roadside in suits, shanty towns along the side of the road and the amusing, if not scary signs telling you not to stop or you will be hi-jacked! As the hours toil by, the speed increases and its clear that Keith's 4x4 has the edge as we loose radio contact.
Cain was now determined to catch them up but gas was running low, so we stopped off in Nelspruit to refuel and pick up some groceries. In South Africa you can't pay for fuel with cards, so you must always have enough cash ready to pay for the fuel. Relieved, refreshed and refuelled we speed off out of the small town, back along the motorway.
Suddenly, a man runs out in the middle of the road and gestures to stop, he has a gun. He's about 400 meters away and we're closing at over 220 kph! Cain, sighs... "It's the police!" and applies the brakes coming to stop with his hand just touching the bonnet. The police man eyes the three white occupants and grunts at Cain to get out.
"the police man wants us to pay 500 Rand for speeding!", chuckling, "I told him I didn't have that kind of money as I'm a poor and he believed me!" Cain said. "He said I should go to the nearest ATM and come back to pay him!'. As we drive off we all wave at the stupid police man for not realising that we were in the middle of nowhere and clearly must have had a lot of gas money on us!
Just 30 minutes later and we arrive at the Kruger park gate and prepare to pay them a large sum of money to come in as tourists but in true African style, they've run out of passes at the office and request we visit the office in Lower Sabie and pay them.
We arrived at the Lower Sabie camp to pay our fee and they too had run out of passes and the guy behind the counter lazily suggested we come back another day to pay and let us enter the camp. The gates opened and we drove into the fortified Lower Sabie camp. At least we'd be safe tonight. Pulling forward to another external set of gates, I suddenly realised we weren't staying in the camp but in a private lodge just outside.
The lodge had 5 spacious rooms, each with views over the river, a maid cleaning up after us and a barbecue area. Just as we were getting comfortable (Keith & Sim were watching the cricket) enjoying the sunset and slurping our iced Carling's the gate opened and a car pulled in. Cain jumps up and greeted and introduced Edwin an old work buddy and his wizened father, Andre. We helped them unload the 2nd and 3rd vital ingredients to an African Safari from the car.
Five am the following morning and it was time to start our first day of Safari. It was pitch black outside but the camp gates would be opened at sunrise which was also the best time to view the wild life. Cain emerged from the kitchen carrying three crystal tumblers and proclaimed that this was our morning wake up drink, promptly placing them in the convenient glass coolers inside the 4x4. As we cruised slowly through the park gates at sunrise, our eyes fixed on the forest either side of the track, we sipped Clippies and Coke.
We headed up to Shakuza, deeper into the park, staying in contact with Keith and Sim by radio. Taking a slightly different route we stumbled across a group of squawking birds. Parking at the bottom of the hill and turning the engine off, we sat for 30 minutes watching 20 or so Grey Lauries in two opposing trees. I've never seen anything like this before but they were definitely communicating with each other! We sped off and quickly made our way up to next camp for breakfast, hooking back up with the others.
For breakfast we all had cheese 'n' tomato toasties and coffee. Keith, a larger man at the time sat legs straddled over the side of a nearby bench chomping on a mint-choc ice cream. "Keith it's 7am and you're eating ice cream?!"
"Yep, in fact there's only one thing better than mint-choc ice cream in the morning", sucking the last ice from the stick.
Back at the camp that night we recounted our stories and sightings to Andre, an experienced South African bush man. Except, I am sure he was never referring to trees and woodland. We all sat around the gold fire, drinking beer and eating steaks in the dark while we waited for the Hyena to make an appearance. Andre entertained with one of his many cock jokes. Truthfully, I've never met another person that knew so many jokes that related to cocks! The one about the mouse and elephant on Noah's ark is the only one I've remembered and its only funny if a perverted, 70 year old man drinking Cain tells you it! We never actually got to try Cain, the closest was my brother (Also called Cain) asking what it was like.
The rest of the trip was much the same and we got to see some amazing sights:
- 2 lion cubs play fighting in a tree.
- A baby hippo yawning in the water and playing with its mother.
- Loosing my glasses and crawling around below a hut only to find a large amount of cat-poo!
- A women getting mugged by a baboon.
- Convincing Andre that a picture of a stuffed leopard was actually real! Bush man, my ass!
- Narrowly avoiding a crash in a game of chicken with someone who we thought was Keith and Sim. Turned out to be some other tourists in an identical 4x4
- Sean taking a pee by a giant imprint of a lion's paw, while we could hear them in the nearby river! Clearly Sean needed to take a leak badly!!
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