A dream came true, we’re on safari!
Country: South Africa by Lisette
The last week in Maputo was devoted to washing dirty clothes, deciding what to leave behind and what not, working my ass off, a last minute party and packing, we were ready to travel!
Taking the early bus to Nelspruit, we knew the drill of crossing the border with South Africa well. But just that day, the border was crazier than normal and we lost our bus!
So here’s how a typical border crossing in Southern Africa works:
When you hit the border of the country you are departing, you leave the bus to enter the office. With Mozambique’s stamp, we then had to walk to South Africa’s border. Next to Beitbridge’s border crossing (SA-Zimbabwe), this was the longest line-up I’ve seen so far! Luckily, the Intercape bus hostess was able to whisk us through fairly quickly. We were told we were with the last batch and had to find the bus ourselves. “Sure, no problem” we told her confidently, as we had done this before.
Except, we couldn’t find the bus, nor could other people that were in ‘our batch’. After a little while I tried to contact the Mozambican office and someone else tried the Customer Service and we were told, “to stay put”. Finally, the bus personnel were contacted and they found us – the bus was now delayed for about one hour.
When we finally arrived in Nelspruit, we went straight to our accommodation, Old Vic Traveller’s Inn. A lovely place set in a gorgeous garden. Even better, we were upgraded to a larger hut!
We had no time to enjoy it much though because we wanted to buy a camera as we lost our Nikon SLR during the home invasion and were going to Kruger National Park tomorrow! Yet, their hospitality really stood out.
Ah, Kruger – we were so lucky to see some wild animals amazingly up close. Within minutes of arriving in the park, we saw giraffes. Not much later, the saw the butts of rhinos in the far distance. Birds were singing in the trees their morning song and we heard on the radio lions were spotted.
Easy to spot were the many impalas and warthogs that we had seen in Swaziland and Zimbabwe as well. Then came the first surprise: as a cheetah was following an animal in the woods, we were able to follow the cheetah for a little while. Then suddenly it came upon the road, right in front of us, and walked majestically for several minutes in open view!
As we followed him, as quiet as a mouse except for the slight noise of the jeep’s engine, he looked at us a couple of times. I am certain he was wondering why we were on his tail and that we had just ruined his breakfast he had had in mind. Knowing the cheetah can run faster than any other land animal (up to 120km) and who has the ability to accelerate to 100km/h in three seconds, it was amazing and very rare indeed to watch him stylishly saunter about.
From watching a graceful feline to viewing an ugly vulture up in the tree, our shocked brains took a little while in registering this extraordinary experience. After a short break with no spotted wildlife, we came upon these black and red birds (pictured below). Some research with Google told me they were Southern Ground Hornbills.
For a while there was not much to be seen and we just enjoyed the nature and a good lunch. Shortly after we were rewarded for our patience as we saw a herd of elephants. We came fairly close so we were received with some trumpeting and flapping ears, so we didn’t stick around for too long. But the image below of the herd with the baby-elephant was totally worth it.
We had to drive a while to see the lions lying in a dry riverbed. As exciting as it was, it was also a bit disappointing because without binoculars you would never have seen them. Of course, for safety it was smart to be far away. But hey, we were already spoiled with following the cheetah, so expectations were high. And then, …
Then came the second most amazing sight of the day – a huge rhino was lying in the road. There was no safe way around him, so our guide revved the engine a bit to annoy it. We were rewarded with some snorting. Slowly it stood up, glanced at us one more time and unhurriedly turned around to walk away.
On our way out of Kruger National Park, we once more saw elephants, quite a large herd this time!