Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Kruger Park - Part Two

We enjoyed our first visit so much that after Andi went home we decided to return for five more days.  This time we rented chalets at each camp.  We drove a full day to reach the southern border where we stayed outside of the camp for the night.  We chose a lovely B&B with the most charming hostess.  After breakfast, we headed into the park and stayed one night at Skukuza Camp, two nights at Olifants Camp, and one night at Sweingdezi.  It was great touring all of the parkland, even with the often torrential rains that came and went.  For five days we covered just about every dirt track there was on the map, dodged mudholes and fallen trees and spotted quite a bit of wildlife.  The lion and leopard evaded us this trip and we never got to see that rhino.

Pretoria - Johannesburg

Driving west and out of the park, we retraced our steps back onto the Panorama Route and then into Pretoria were we had booked a private home in the Menlyn Park area.  Menlyn Park is an upscale neighborhood on the southwest side of the city.  Our home was a huge 3,000 sq. ft four-bedroom hacienda with pool, lovely gardens, and great security.  For the next few days we enjoyed the privacy.  We toured Pretoria for a day, took in the sites of the capital city - the Voortrekker Monument, the State House, and the Mandela statue in the park.  For a large city and capital of the country, interestingly it had little to see and do that interested us other than many parks, a few wildlife reserves nearby, and an assortment of small art galleries and novelty museums.

We booked a day tour of the Cullinan Diamond Mine and that was quite a day.  We drove about an hour east of town and into the hills to get to the mine.  For the tour we had to don coveralls, a safety belt, light, and hard hat.  We went down about 1200 feet into one of the shafts and then wandered the maze with our guide watching the various aspects of diamond mining.  In the US we would never have been allowed to this.  It was a great tour and sadly, no diamond samples and no pictures.

Our last day together we visited Johannesburg and took the Hop On Hop Off bus tour.  We toured the city and its sites...big buildings, museums, had lunch at a large casino and then toured Soweto.  The Soweto tour was interesting...but in 25 years, the town has changed too much, there was little to truly see form the past.  The guide did a great job of pointing to a building or a hill and saying, "at one  time there used to..."

Hans and Marie departed on the 27th.  Andi stayed on for another week.  During the time we pretty much stayed around the house relaxing.  On our last night together she treated us to dinner at a quaint country restruarant out in the bonnies.  It was call the Tin Roof Cafe and the meal was lovely.

Kruger National Park - Part One

We planned our drive to complete the first half of the Panorama Route, then enter the park south of there, and complete the route on our exit to Pretoria.  It was a beautiful drive up into the highlands and valleys that make up the western border of Kruger National Park.  The cliffs make a natural boundary for animal migrationa...and the western side of the park is fully fenced and gated.  We stopped at God's Window to view the valley below, before descending onto the park's plateau.

We booked a safari camp with upgraded tents, fully catered meals, and two or three game drives, walks, or activities each day.  We dug in for a nice long rest. Our tents faced the park fence and in the late day and early evening we had a full time continues procession of wildlife to walk wander by.  Foe the next seven days we had three daily choices of game drivers and activities.  It was a grand stay.