The first part of our 2-week journey to South Africa was spent doing volunteer work at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Daktari Bush School. We then entered “safari mode” and went to Kruger National Park. These pictures are accompanied by brief narratives that describe what we experienced.
Day 9 – Oct. 21, 2016
Daktari Bush School to Olifants River, South Africa
Our final morning at Daktari was quite moving. Each student had written a list of “promises” and, one by one, stood on a large rock and read the list aloud to everyone. “I promise to be kind to animals.” “I promise to take care of the environment.” “I promise not to be a drug dealer.” “I promise to have safe sex.” So brave to make these proclamations, especially in front of our large group! We could see how far they had come in one short week. The air was filled with hope as I imagined each student becoming an environmental steward.
Our next destination was the Olifants River, the natural boundary between Kruger Park and surrounding land. It was a long drive from Daktari to get there, but the moment I saw the river I was in awe. Due to the severe drought, most of the rivers we had seen were dry. The Olifants River had an abundance of water. We boarded the double decker boat for a sunset cruise and saw lots of animals and birds, a preview of what was to come on our safari. I wore my binoculars and checked out all of the amazing wildlife, continually asking Dawid (our Toerboer guide) what animal I was seeing! This was one of my happiest moments on the trip.
NOTE: click on the thumbnail image to see an enlarged slideshow!
Day 10 – Oct. 22, 2016
Safari Day 1 – Malompheni Wild Camping, Kruger National Park, South Africa
2 days of off-road safari in an window-less vehicle. Lots of heat and dust, with huge rewards of unobstructed, up-close views of the animals. My first elephant siting was on this jeep. Would love to do it all again.
Photo opportunities galore! Everywhere you looked, beauty. A couple of times, we climbed out of the jeep to soak in the sites, sounds, and expansiveness of the wilderness. Binoculars helped to see animals in the distance.
We camped that night in a remote area of the park, near the banks of the Letaba River. There were no fences to separate us from the wild animals. Two professional, armed rangers were with us, making sure we were all safe. Toerboer staff set up the site, complete with tents, fireplace, and kitchen. They prepared a most delicious meal, too! We sat around the campfire eating, talking, and watching the fire as the stars emerged in the darkened sky.
Day 11 – Oct. 23, 2016
Safari Day 2 – Satara Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Each day brought a new special moment. It was a lesson in being present, paying attention to every moment. Otherwise, you would miss something! Safari day 2 was the highlight of the trip for me. On the second day of our safari, we saw many more animals and had closer views of them. Kruger was bustling with activity! That evening, we welcomed the enclosed, comfy rondavels at Satara, and showered off the dust and sweat from the last couple of days.
Day 12 – Oct. 24, 2016
Safari Day 3 – Kruger National Park to Numbi Hotel, Hazyview, South Africa
We spent the next morning on another drive in Kruger and then headed for our hotel in Hazyview, a busy, small rural town. We rested a bit before heading out that evening for a special festival at Shangana Cultural Village. The arts and crafts at the Marula Market were beautiful: exquisite craftsmanship, vivid colors, inviting textures. An incredible edible feast came after the highly entertaining performance with singing, dancing, and acting.
Day 13 – Oct. 25, 2016
Bourke’s Luck Potholes and Blyde River Canyon to Ginnegaap Guesthouse, Johannesburg, South Africa
The convergence of the Blyde and Treur Rivers form a fascinating landscape filled with potholes shaped by the intensity of rushing water. It reminded me of the American Southwest, where the flash floods carve gorgeous shapes into the sandstone. The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world. Quite intriguing.
Day 14 – Oct. 26, 2016
Ginnegaap Guesthouse, Johannesburg, South Africa
We had the day free to do whatever we wanted. I chose to relax and sketch in the lovely garden at our guest house. For lunch, Peggy, Anne (Ellis), and I walked to the nearby neighborhood center and had a nice meal. In the late afternoon, we all boarded the bus one last time and Ernest drove us to the airport. Lots of hugs as we said goodbye to our South African “vibe tribe”. I will miss you!