I’m part homebody, part nomad. I get itchy, twitchy and bitchy and yearn to travel if I’m home for longer than 2 months. (And then I’m generally ready to be back home after 2 to 3 weeks.) A decent portion of my friends are pretty vocal about their hatred of modern air travel and they generally try to avoid it whenever possible, but honestly if I could get somewhere interesting by flying cargo with donkeys and chickens or whatever with 30 layovers, I’d totally do it, no ifs, ands or buts. Sometimes airplanes suck, but the amazing experiences that they make possible have always made up for a few hours of discomfort.
This year my parents totally spoiled us & decided to take us to South Africa for our family vacation as our Birthday and Christmas presents for the next 127 years.. . I guess the nomadic thing kinda runs in the family. My parents visited the country last year, had a totally amazing time and thought that we would love it as well. Luckily I’m related to these awesome generous people so I was in for the trip of a lifetime!
So in September (I know I’m WAY behind in updating this blog) after about 36 hours of air travel, layovers in multiple countries, and car travel, we ended up in a swanky guest house in Marloth Park on the Southern edge of Kruger National Park, and Northeast-ish region of the country.We stayed in an awesome house/lodge? called Kahya Umdami that was owned by some super friendly people from Cape Town. There was a ton of wildlife that roamed the area & could come around looking for handouts. Guinea fowl (who looked like they would make delicious hot wings!), kudu (only try to feed the young ones, fyi) ,warthogs (omg, so cute!!!), giraffes, bushbabies (the itty-bitty tweaked-out speed freaks of the animal kingdom), hoards of banded mongeese, and tons of crazy looking colorful birds were just some of our regular visitors.
Luckily we had brought a huge crate of fresh papaya or papaw, so the critters loved us, and we got to hand feed a ton of warthogs and kudu. I actually ended up with the nickname Angelina Jolie for threatening to smuggle/adopt half of the visiting warthogs.
In the mornings we’d wake up pre-dawn, so we could begin our game drives in Kruger around sunrise and hopefully check out animals while they were at their most active and looking for breakfast. We did 2 game drives that basically last from 6am to 4pm with a few stops for breakfast and lunch. But you’re basically spending a super long day in big open air jeep scanning the horizon and trees and brush for small as well as large animals that are generally some perfectly camouflaged shade of brown. Your eyes start to play tricks on you after a while. Sometimes it takes you a while to realize that there are HUGE critter only a couple of yards from you. Many times it took me a while to spot giraffes, because they were literally the size of trees. In a concrete zoo in the states these animals look super bright, colorful and huge. In the African bush the same animals blend into the landscape perfectly.
We were very lucky during our game drives and saw so many different types of wildlife, including “the Big Five“. Some visitors to Kruger stay for a week and never see all of the big 5, but we were lucky to see tons of elephants, a bunch of white rhinos and a handful of black ones, tons of cape buffalo, lots of female lions, and two leopards.
We also saw lots of critter families, including a nervous white rhino mama and her super cute baby who wanted to cross the road and finally got the chance, 2 boy cheetahs just chillin on a park sign for a brief rest. A family of baboons. Many dazzles of zebra, lots of monkeys of various types and sizes, crocodiles and hippos sunning themselves next to one another at the watering hole, lots of various deer-like critters who are at the lower end of the food chain such as: kudu, impala, water bucks, dik-dik, etc….
We also went on a walking safari where they drive you out deep into the bush. The park rangers give you a super intense speech about how dangerous it is when you leave the jeep, how everything can and will kill you. How you should not speak at all, and to follow their instructions to the letter when they tell you to do something, and failure to do so will result in getting torn apart by a black rhino. Then you get out of the truck & walk out into the wilderness. We tromped around for about 3 hours until we tracked down a rhino, took some pictures until it noticed us and then we got the hell outta there. That was pretty awesome….
I had spend the morning all jazzed up that I would be eaten by something huge and didn’t really realize until the next day that there are boatloads of super poisonous snakes that I probably should have been keeping an eye out for as well… My favorite poisonous South African snake would have to be the Puff Adder, which I kept calling the Steven Adler. They are cute little buggers. So cute & little that they look like harmless little strips of plastic when they are babies. Luckily when we came across one on our final morning, our host was in-the-know and pointed it out to us, allowing us to give it a VERY wide berth, as well as made us paranoid for the rest of the trip.
Check out all of the pictures from my trip: HERE.
What a totally amazing trip! I would love to go back to South Africa some day and experience more of that beautiful country. I’d love to check out the Zef flow coming out of Cape Town. Travel down to Durban and check out the surf (and shark!) situation. Follow my roots back to the Cradle of Humankind. I’mma keep my fingers crossed, and hope for something to pop up that will allow me to return someday.
10 of 30 Completed!