As long as you are in Kruger, there is hope

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As long as you are in Kruger, there is hope. That’s a phrase our driver in Kruger always said. Hope for what? Probably to see some of the more special animals. Because we saw EVERYTHING. Buffalos, giraffes, elephants, birds, hippos,… We saw everything BUT the big cats. We started to think that they were on strike. But as long as you are in Kruger, there is hope.

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We realized that our Vic Falls to Johannesburg tour with Nomads was over, when everybody was saying goodbye and we had to organize a taxi for ourselves to get to the hostel. The high prices made us wish that we could hop back on our tour truck.

Finally, we arrived at the Sleek hostel, which was quite cool but clearly, they were not prepared for winter. The rooms were freezing!!! At least the shower was hot. Since it wasn’t advisable to walk outside as females after dark, we ordered some pizzas with help from the guy at the reception. At least an hour later, they finally arrived cold but you know; this is Africa.

Luckily, we survived the cold night and tried to organize an Uber to the mall in Sandton the next day. Unfortunately, the app just didn’t work for us and so we had the choice of being ripped off by another taxi driver or take a minibus cab from the nearby taxi rank. We opted for the later, as it was only R11 and should be safe in the bright daylight. So, 10min later, we were on our way to the mall in a car full of black people.

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Sandton City reminded me of Las Vegas with lots of big buildings, where all the life is going on inside. We spent the day shopping for clothes and souvenirs and enjoyed a delicious chocolate fondue from Haagen-Dazs. We needed that, after 3 weeks with hardly any sweets. We were getting a little worried about how we would get back to the hostel, when we met a guy from our hostel at the supermarket. What a lucky coincidence. It’s just safer to have a male person with you here (that’s what the guy at the reception told us). We wanted to take a bus with him but unfortunately, they just stopped running (at 8pm) but we could then actually haggle a taxi down to R150.

That was a good day in Josie and we didn’t feel like we had missed out on anything. I hadn’t particularly liked what I had seen of Johannesburg. Therefore, we were excited that our safari to Kruger would start the next day.

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It began with a lot of driving. First, all the tourists in our area of Johannesburg were collected by Viva Safaris and then we started heading up to Kruger. We stopped for lunch in a restaurant with delicious food. An Italian couple even ordered the garlic snails. However, they hadn’t known what snails are, so in the end, they didn’t want to eat them. My chance to try one as I always said that they are disgusting and I don’t want to eat one. Well, now I can confirm my opinion; I won’t eat one again if I can avoid it. Other than that we pretty much just drove the whole day. We reached Balule game reserve (which joins together with Kruger) shortly after 4pm and noticed that this safari was a class higher. First of all, we had a room and not tents and the beds were so comfortable and everything in the lodge so nicely put together, that we could just relax for once. Then, they had an animal spotting terrace where we saw some baboons, warthogs and big elephant bulls. The elephants were as big as the safari vehicle we boarded afterwards and they came so close that we could be glad that they were feeling friendly.

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When that excitement was over, we climbed into the safari car and went for a sunset drive. Somehow, we just don’t get lucky with night drives. Again, we only saw a few and very general animals like impalas, giraffes and luckily a few genets. When it was dark, we stopped somewhere in the bush, where the staff had set up dinner with tables and lots of candles. It was very romantic and the star spangled sky amazing. We had another South African specialty called pap (?). I had heard a lot about it. Mostly that it doesn’t taste like anything, you can compare it to polenta and it’s so thick that you could kill somebody with it. Luckily, it did not taste like polenta and i actually liked it with the tomato sauce and chicken they served it with. After dinner, they drove us back to our nice room. Unfortunately, not even the hyena that usually comes by showed up.

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The next morning, a different safari jeep picked us up and we entered Kruger at Open Gate. We spent the WHOLE day driving around Kruger, spotting animals. Our driver, Dominic, had amazing eyes. Sometimes, he’d stop the car, leaving us all wondering what had happened until he would say: well, don’t you see the rhinos? And even then it took us a moment to find them. How could he have concentrated on the roads, the cows and impalas next to the road and still see the cool animals? If anyone would find us a leopard, it was him. But at 2pm, still no cat had showed up. We stopped for lunch at Satura camp, where they had a pizza place and Mugg and Beans. If you go to Kruger, you don’t have to be worried about the infrastructure.

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After lunch, we kept hoping. We still awed at the cute elephant and hippo babies but it would have been nice to see some predators. So, when we saw a lot of cars stopping at one spot, we knew there had to be something. And there was. A giraffe only had a hole where its head and neck used to be with two big female lions and four cubs enjoying the rest of its body as a meal. You could really see that their mouths were red from the blood! That was something!

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Then it already was almost sunset time again and we had to drive to our camp for the night. It was called Marc’s Treehouse Lodge and when we arrived there, we wished that we could stay longer. We really slept in a treehouse with our own bathroom. There are no fences around the camp and so there is the chance of seeing an animal.

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After dinner we went straight to bed, as we were exhausted from all that driving around in the dry heat and we had to get up at 5.30am for our bushwalk. The bush walk was okay. We learned some more things about plants and termites. After an hour, we were glad that a good breakfast was waiting for us and then we unfortunately had to start our journey back to Johannesburg, as our flights were leaving the next day.

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What an awesome time these past four weeks has been. What an adventure! I feel so lucky that I could experience all that (and on top I always had such nice company). And I had no problems with Malarone at all. Not more than the usual dizziness anyways. Neither did Michèle. I guess all the foods and drinks we had were clean as well, since our stomachs never bothered us! So, everything was a success and I’ll definitely come back to Africa to see some more of this continent.

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