On the road in South Africa
Hluhluwe Travel Blog› entry 90 of 99 › view all entries
We are now well into our tour of South Africa with Nomad Travel Company. Our group is made up of 5 Germans, 2 Italian, 1 Polish, 1 Romanian and me and our three guides are Belgium, German and South African. Ages also range from 21 to 60 across the group. The heterogeneous group doesn’t socialize much together since the Germans normally speak German and one of the Italians barely speaks English. Yet, the group experience is not as bad as I expected. Everything runs pretty much on time and everybody is good about getting back to the bus on-time.
Much of our days are spent on our truck which is nicknamed Frankie. It can hold about twice as many people as it is so it is pretty comfortable despite some sometimes poor roads.
Much of our trip so far has been focused on seeing animals. The second day of the tour we went to an animal rehabilitation center to see many of the animals close-up in a more zoo like setting.
From Kruger Park we headed to Swaziland and stayed in traditional beehive huts which were essentially made from straw. Since the temperature was going down below 40 degrees at night this could be a bit cold, but the idea of staying in a traditional house was kind of exciting. That was until Ana spotted a few pieces of poop on one of the bed. I tried to tell her that it was dirt and wipe it off before she could see it too closely, but she stopped me and kind of freaked out. Apparently the thatched walls of the buildings make for good rats nest. After threatening to sleep on the truck for a while Ana finally agreed to switch to a different hut. It was winter and the huts would keep rats warm so they probably all had rats, but Ana didn’t find any poop so we were safe and the trip finished without any rat sightings. Overall, we have been surprised with how nice most of the accommodations are. As we are in Africa and the trip was sold as accommodations one step above camping, we didn’t expect much. We normally have our own bathroom and about half of the rooms are heated. In the South African national parks most of the rooms even have a full kitchen and grill. Food also has been good. One of our guides is a cook/translator and has been able to fulfill Ana’s complex eating requirements and keep our stomachs full.
As far as the country goes as a whole, we have been surprised by the level of development. We have seen little signs of slums, huts or below standard neighborhoods in South Africa. The roads for the most part have also been pretty well constructed. While we have lots of potholes (which are bit rough in such a large truck), they seem pretty safe and much better than India. We have been warned by our guides who do tours throughout Africa that other countries are not so comfortable. Roads tend to be a lot worse and that you are better off camping, because you can keep your tent clean as a hotel room likely will not be.
That is it for now…on to find some more animals before some hiking in Lesotho and southern South Africa.