?>

Africa

1st November
2011
written by Hazel

We were very sad to leave Sabi Sabi.  It was such a beautiful place and we loved seeing the animals so much.

The same day we left the game reserve my mom had to fly back to Johannesburg and then on home, so we were also sad to say goodbye to her.

A driver came and picked us up and then took us to Nelspruit, a nearby town where my mom would catch her flight later that day.  But first we had another treat in store!  We met up with my aunt’s foster daughter, her husband and their new baby!  They gave us a wonderful lunch at their home and we had a great time chatting with them.  They also gave us some good travel advice, dropped my mom off at the airport and us at our hostel.  So kind of them!

We had a couple of days left before our flight out of Africa, so we decided to stick around in Nelspruit and see the Blyde River Canyon which is only a short drive away.  We rented a car and I was very happy to find that the traffic in that area was not so busy.

It was a beautiful day exploring the canyon!

Rock Pinnacle

Rock Pinnacle

(more…)

26th October
2011
written by Hazel

While the big cats were the main event at this reserve, we also had many, many other spottings.  Here are some photos of the other animals we saw:

Swimming monitor lizard

Swimming monitor lizard

(more…)

26th October
2011
written by Justin

The other main event in Sabi Sabi is the last animal of the Big Five that we had yet to see – leopards.  And what a show!  We saw a few different leopards on a few different days, including a fast-paced off-road chase of a leopard on the move.  We were amazed at how the guides were able to find the first cat – another car had seen it but it had moved a little since then.  They were right on and led us to it.  It took a while for me to see at all, and I knew where it was!  I’ll give you a sense of what a leopard laying in the grass looks like:

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

(more…)

26th October
2011
written by Justin

It soon became clear that the specialty of the Sabi Sabi rangers was to find big cats, take you to them, and then take you so close you can’t even believe your eyes.  We had our first encounter with big cats the first morning!  Our guide Neil told us that the lionesses had taken down a Cape buffalo nearby and that we would go to see them feasting on the carcass.  True to their word, there were several lions just hanging about!  They had seemingly eaten their fill at this time and were mostly just focused on digesting.

Relaxing Lions

Relaxing Lions

Lioness takes her turn at relaxation

Lioness takes her turn at relaxation

(more…)

25th October
2011
written by Hazel

I have to start this post out by thanking Phil and Joanna, without whom we never would have been at the Little Bush Camp in the Sabi Sabi private game reserve.  This is absolutely the most luxurious, incredible place I can imagine for seeing these animals and I feel beyond lucky to have spent three nights there.  My photos definitely do not do this place justice.  It was perfect.

Our swank room!

Our swank room!

The food was amazing (and endless) with lots of delicious choices for each meal.  I was stuffed constantly!

(more…)

24th October
2011
written by Justin

Swaziland Countryside

The first day in Swaziland we mostly spent inside, recovering from travel and making plans for our time in the country. Our exceedingly generous hosts Phil and Joanna made us great food – they typically eat raw vegetarian food, so we had really delicious salads covered in nuts and fruits and other goodies, along with some cooked dishes made just for us. We felt completely relaxed and really well taken care of! So we were productive in our planning and made an ambitious schedule where we’d get to see 3 Swazi sights – the Mlilwane Game Reserve, the famous Reed Dance, and the beautiful Malalotja Nature Reserve.

Lurking Croc

Lurking Croc

(more…)

22nd October
2011
written by Justin

After the end of our tour we pretty much just crashed out at the Ritz backpackers. We ordered take out Indian food, did laundry, and slept basically as long as possible. But our rest was not super long because we had booked a shuttle – the only one we could find – to Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland.

The shuttle (website link) was all-in-all a good experience, but it was a lot of hassle trying to get the reservation. We were wary of all the transport options between Johannesburg and Swaziland; the bus station in Joburg is said to be really dangerous, there were no trains as far as we could tell, and no coaches would go past the border. We had heard that Baz Bus, a popular backpacker’s bus, used to go there but alas it had been removed from the route selection. So we were pretty stuck until I found another option – TransMagnific minivan service. This was a company with a 15-seater van that had daily departures, a reasonable website and online bookings, but I couldn’t find any recommendations or reviews online. Needless to say, we were reluctant to pay $70 USD a piece ahead of time for a company that didn’t exist. When it became clear that they were the only option, we gave in and booked online.

Then the difficulties began because they wanted a prepayment to their Swazi bank account. We booked the day before our Acacia safari, and were unable to get to a bank before we left. There were a few banks along the course of our safari that looked as though we could use them, but since apparently banking hours are 9:30 to 3:30 with a lunchbreak in the middle we didn’t manage to get to any bank until Maun, just before we left for the Okovango Delta. That was when the big kicker came: you can’t transfer money to a Swazi account from Botswana unless you have an account! We got agitated at this because we would be unable to pay until maybe the day before our journey.

Fortunately TransMagnific came through – they let us just pay the driver after the trip! We were really happy that we could keep our seats for the van (which turned out to be completely full) and showed up the day of with our luggage.

Besides our payment issues, we had no trouble at all with the service! We had a smooth, comfortable ride with complementary snacks. I think our request for no mayonnaise on our sandwiches caused them to omit the sandwiches completely, but we were prepared with our own food anyway. I can highly recommend this shuttle service. The only caveat is that our van got in to Mbabane more than 1.5 hours later than the website stated, and we didn’t run into any traffic. So our generous hosts in Swaziland ended up waiting at a gas station for a really long time! We made it to Mbabane after dark, a little tired, but happy to be there!

Tags: , ,
11th October
2011
written by Justin

Highlights

  1. Elephant herd crossing the water – Chobe Natl Park, Botswana
  2. Feeling CLOSE to the animals on our Walking Safari – Mosi-oa-tunya, Zambia
  3. Finally getting the hang of mokoro driving – Okovango Delta, Botswana
  4. Camping out really made us feel like we were on an adventure!
  5. Lots of really cool people and animals accompanied us the whole time!

Lowlights

  1. Four whole days doing nothing but travel.
  2. Poor communication between our guide and Acacia Small Groups – this directly caused delays and low group morale.
  3. Getting lost on the way to the first night’s lodge — after 12 hours on the road
  4. Constant equipment issues.  We constantly had issues with tent zippers breaking and other people had to sleep in fleece blankets one night before sleeping bags were found!
  5. Livingstone sales pitch video for overpriced activities.  This sales pitch lasted for an hour and caused other members of the group to miss out on things – The Waterfront, Zambia
8th October
2011
written by Justin

We were sad to leave the campsite when we did – 2 nights just didn’t seem enough to fully appreciate where we were.  However, Maggie and I got to have a completely different experience of the delta once we got out: a 45 minute flight above it!  We were stoked because it had been said that it’s hard to fully appreciate the size of the delta from the ground.  Whoever said that was right!  It was wild to see animals, scenery, and the odd fire from 500-1000 feet up. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Our Plane

Our Plane

(more…)

7th October
2011
written by Hazel

Once we had the camp set up we got to start relaxing.  I found this to be a very laid back part of the trip.  Mornings and evenings we got to go on walks on our beautiful island.  We saw some animals (although nothing as spectacular as in Chobe) and enjoyed the landscape.  It was so nice to get some solid hiking in after spending a lot of time in vehicles!  We saw zebra, lots of kinds of antelope, elephants, hippo, lots of birds, and a snake in the big tree IN OUR CAMPSITE.

Island Scenery

Island Scenery

We hiked around a giant baobab tree near the camp

We hiked around a giant baobab tree near the camp

(more…)

Previous
  • You are currently browsing the archives for the Africa category.