Polokwane Game Reserve - Tour day 4 – Giraffe poo, Rhinos, and Gospel campfire songs!

Polokwane Travel Blog

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Brrrr....morning drive's were surprisingly cold!

Time for the next language lesson,  sticking with the Pede language we focused on greetings today, which is ‘Dumela-rra’ (for men) and Dumela-mma’ (for women).  So now we can try to say helo to a few people (at least in Pede, and we were pretty sure these would apply in Botswana later in the tour too).

We were up early to go for a morning walk in Kruger national park which sounded incredible.  It had been one thing to look at all the animals out of windows, but to be there on the ground with them was a very enticing prospect J

There was a very important debate to start the day, with the girls on the tour convinced that the morning tour guide was the same as yesterday afternoon’s and the guys certain that he wasn’t.

We sat down for lunch mid way througha game walk in Kruger. We'd just tried to track a leopard without success. The guide ate lunch after picking up giraffe poo all morning!
  These are some of the important matters argued at 6 in the morning J

This area was much more open so you could see the animals from quite far away.  As the head guide gave us an introductory spiel, the other guide Amos liked to mime very movement which kept us entertained.  Fairly early on, we were fortunate enough to see a giraffe from ground level which really helps you appreciate just how far up they go!!  We also received an education in giraffe poo (an important life skill) learning the difference between male and female poo (the pointiness). Less appealingly, the guide then ate lunch with those same hands, each to their own J

We also tip-toed around near an elephant, being sure not to agitate it too much, after all it is an elephant!.

More kruger game walk, we saw a giraffe and an elephant on foot which were both great from ground level!
  The guide carried a shotgun and when asked why he doesn’t use tranquilizers he simply said that it’s going to take a hell of a lot of tranquilizer to stop something if it’s coming at us.  Apparently it just won’t do the job fast enough…

In a little valley we saw four zebras munching away and the guide spotted a leopard that was also apparently interested in our black and white friends.  We took off following leopard tracks, and it was quite an adventure trying to track this thing down but unfortunately we eventually reached a point where it could have gone in several directions and it wasn’t to be.

With the game walk finished up, we loaded in to the Intrepid truck and headed for Polokwane which was near the town where Bennie had grown up and gone to school.  We had always been planning on meeting Bennie’s mother and wife which the group was really looking forward to.

My attempt to find shade in the bus!
  Before we took off Bennie stood up the front of the truck and asked if we’d be interested in staying at his Dad’s house instead of the Polokwane campground.  He emphasised that there were no showers, and only a pit toilet but we would be welcomed.  Again it is a credit to the group that the opportunity to have a real experience outweighed any lack of creature comforts, as we unanimously agreed to take Bennie up on his kind offer J

Along our drive we went past a line of elephants walking along, sheltering their little babies which was just adorable.  We got a very subdued charge from one bull, but it was only half-hearted.  Many kilometres on we rolled in to Polokwane (formerly Petersburg), driving past the site of a stadium they were building for the 2010 World cup, which certainly excited me at least J

Bennie needed to refuel so he dropped us off, indicating that his wife and mum were sitting in the KFC at Polokwane so we wandered along to see if we could find them.

Hippo pod, with baby hippo and all!
   Knowing that Bennie’s wife was pregnant certainly helped us to spot her, along with Bennie’s mum and nephew.  His wife’s name was Cynthia, also known as Mpo (which means gift).  Maddie and Pete kindly offered them a meal which they appreciated, and then proceeded to show us ultrasound pictures of Bennie’s kid, which Bennie hadn’t even seen yet!!  It sounds like the health system is actually quite good here in South Africa which bodes well for the future.

Bennie eventually joined us and we jumped back on the truck to head for a drive in the Polokwane Rhino sanctuary.  Cynthia and the rest of Bennie’s family had never had the opportunity to see this so also joined us in the truck which was wonderful J  Unfortunately since it was a Sunday,  a lot of places were closed and we couldn’t top up our beer supply before the drive.

It was incredible when a line of elephants was next to our truck!
  We did drive past one bottle shop but Bennie said we can’t stop because it was too dangerous, we were quite willing to trust his judgement on this one J

The rhino sanctuary is quite an open area with these unique looking trees scattered like posts throughout the landscape.  Rhinos must like this J  Once we had entered Bennie said that we could get up on the roof for the tour if we wanted to, which sounded great!  This was generally true, but every now and then it was necessary to perform some ‘Matrix’ style dodging of thorns as they swept across the roof.  One branch managed to snatch my hat from my head late in the day!

We decided that Pete must be “the rhino whisperer” as he had developed a rhino-phant impression that reaped rewards in no time.

The big elephants sheltered the baby
  Fairly early in the trip we saw two white rhinos, with one of them crossing the road right in front of us.   In the distance we watched a rhino family, with a little baby rhino running around and charging in to other rhinos, he just seemed like how an agitated little toddler would behave J

Having enjoyed our rhino-watching we drove out to Bennie’s rural village and as you veered away from the city lights the stars just became incredible.  Apparently they had only hooked up electricity here 2 years ago!

We were introduced to Bennie’s dad as we stepped out of the bus, where we  tried out our ‘Dumela-rra’ greeting. Bennie’s dad is a pastor, and although both parents understand English they only really speak Afrikaans.

Proper group shot with Bennie too!
  Amazingly, Bennie’s dad then went to the local chief to ask permission for us to stay, which we’re happy to say was enthusiastically granted!

We then set up tents in the backyard, not far from the pit toilet (which Bennie advised us to watch out for creepy crawleys J ) which was shared with several other houses.  Following this we had a tour of the house, with the computer clearly revered as the centre-piece of the house, and were then introduced to a 1 week old baby which I think Laura kind of liked ;)

It was great to be invited in to this personal side of Bennie’s family, Bennie showed us photos of his daughter Tpiso in her white dress for graduating crèche. Tpiso means promise, she also has the name Prudence but Cynthia was changing that!  Dinner was absolutely incredible as we crowded around the fire for a braii where we dined on  garlic bread as the family cooked pap and chaka-laka.

Nick sings a song to thank them (John Butler Trio - Peaches I think?). After this they sung us incredible gospel music in return.
  Mmmm chaka-laka!!

The stories commenced, with Bennie telling the story of when he first snuck Cynthia in to the house, then as they were discovered, hehad to get her to climb out the window, then walk her 15 km home to an angry dad!

Nick was the resident musician of the group and kindly offered to play the family a song on his guitar to thank them for their hospitality.  He is very talented and belted out a fantastic version of Peaches by John Butler Trio on the guitar.

What followed was an absolutely incredible travel moment! Bennie’s family huddled around the campfire and then began a gospel chorus, initially sitting then standing and dancing, with Bennie doing the Madiba shuffle. (Laura was almost falling asleep during dinner, but this was well worth staying up for!).  Absolutely incredible harmonies sent shivers down our spines, it makes you wonder how many good singers there are in Africa..

That's us on the roof of the Intrepid truck!

The emotional experience continued with Bennie describing how singing made him miss his brother (who had died of tuberculosis in 2006), and we learned that Bennie’s mum and dad will have been married for 40 years next year.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, with Bennie acting as translator,  Bennie’s dad said he had really appreciated our visit, and thought god had sent us here.  Bennie’s mum blessed those of us with special relationships, and hoped our love grows as big as an elephant, and blessed our trip!

Without doubt one of the greatest travel experiences we’ve ever had, or are likely to have J

 

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Brrrr....morning drives were surp…
Brrrr....morning drive's were sur…
We sat down for lunch mid way thro…
We sat down for lunch mid way thr…
More kruger game walk, we saw a gi…
More kruger game walk, we saw a g…
My attempt to find shade in the bu…
My attempt to find shade in the b…
Hippo pod, with baby hippo and all!
Hippo pod, with baby hippo and all!
It was incredible when a line of e…
It was incredible when a line of …
The big elephants sheltered the ba…
The big elephants sheltered the b…
Proper group shot with Bennie too!
Proper group shot with Bennie too!
Nick sings a song to thank them (J…
Nick sings a song to thank them (…
Thats us on the roof of the Intre…
That's us on the roof of the Intr…
A very dry sort of landscape
A very dry sort of landscape
Kruger game walk
Kruger game walk
Bennie talks to us as we sit on th…
Bennie talks to us as we sit on t…
The rhino rolls around in the dirt
The rhino rolls around in the dirt
More rhino-rolling
More rhino-rolling
Then some beers and a sunset from …
Then some beers and a sunset from…
One downside of the truck roof, wa…
One downside of the truck roof, w…
Bennies sisters 2 week old girl
Bennie's sister's 2 week old girl
Inside Bennies parents house
Inside Bennie's parents house
Up close on Bennies sisters 2 we…
Up close on Bennie's sister's 2 w…
This town has only had electricity…
This town has only had electricit…
Bennie and his pregnant wife Cynth…
Bennie and his pregnant wife Cynt…
The meal we shared with Bennies f…
The meal we shared with Bennie's …
Our campsite in Bennies parents …
Our campsite in Bennie's parent's…
Bennies Dads dried chilli
Bennie's Dad's dried chilli
The setting for our dinner and sin…
The setting for our dinner and si…
Pretty impressive garden really
Pretty impressive garden really
More of the family garden
More of the family garden
Bennies dad really liked that gar…
Bennie's dad really liked that ga…
Time to pack up camp
Time to pack up camp
These chickens were very noisy!
These chicken's were very noisy!
The house that Bennie grew up in, …
The house that Bennie grew up in,…
Group shot
Group shot
Bennies old school as we drove out
Bennie's old school as we drove out
Polokwane
photo by: noelm82