South Africa – Part 1

My husband and I were married September 10, 2011.  We didn’t go on a traditional honeymoon.  Instead we travelled to Niagara Falls for a three-day Mini-Moon.  September 2012 we went on our Mega-Moon, South Africa for three weeks.

Part 1: Toronto – Turkey – Johannesburg – Kruger Park – Durban

Highlights

If you are planning to rent a car and drive yourself through South Africa I would recommend reserving a car and a GPS 7 months prior to your arrival date.  We did neither of these things.  As stressful as it was getting lost in Joburg TWICE; navigating our way up to the private game reserve just South of Kruger (on the wrong side of the road) was definitely an unforgettable experience.  Good thing I have good map reading skills and my unbelievably sexy husband is very patient.  –Jeff added this part.

We managed to get pulled over twice on this mini road trip.  Once for running a robot!  A what? A robot is what they call traffic lights.  We actually didn’t run it.  We simply explained to the cop that we didn’t do it.  He said, “ok” and let us go.

The first time we got pulled over a guy just jumped in front of our car and started waving his arms.  I panicked and insisted we keep going. (If you have every read a guide-book for SA you would be freaking out too.)  The number one thing not to do… pull over in the middle of nowhere.  Turns out he was a cop and the fine was around $20 American.  We had a very weird and awkward conversation with the officer.  We both got the feeling he was looking for a bribe, but neither of us were bold enough to offer him one.  In the end, he let us off.  Phew.

Africa on Foot: the camp we stayed in for three nights.  I would highly recommend this place.  It wasn’t the fanciest but the accommodations were wonderful.  We had our own hut and an outdoor shower.  We even got to spend one night in the tree house.

The animals were incredible.  We saw Elephants, Giraffe, Lions, Vultures, Buffalo, Hyenas, Hippos a Bush Baby and tonnes of Kudu. It literally takes your breath away being that close to them in the wild.  We came back with close to 1000 photos of the safari alone, but nothing compares to actually being there.  Maybe were just bad photographers.

The drive from the main road into camp was about an hour.  (Off the main road = unfenced safari territory.)  We were advised to stay in our cars, drive slow and stay in the vehicle.  I think we saw a giraffe in the first 5 minutes.  Jeff kept telling me to watch for animals, but the road was so bad I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  On the way out of camp Jeff let me drive so he could look for animals.  Our little Corolla didn’t last 10 minutes with me behind the wheel.  One big bump and then this dragging sound.  It was almost 3 hours to the closest town.  Turns out I just knocked lose a metal cover of sorts.  Oops.  We pulled into a gas station and they had us drive up a ramp; a couple of screws and we were good as new.  Sorry Budget Rent a Car.

We were in the car for just over 16 hours.  It was a pretty incredible driving through this part of the country.  Also pretty incredible how many red bulls 2 people can consume fighting to stay on the road.

We dropped the car at the airport and rode the Gautrain to the main train station.  From there we boarded our fancy train to Durban, had an amazing dinner and slept on the train.  I was up most of the night just staring out the window from my cozy train bed.

To be continued…

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