Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Geoff's African Safari, the journey there.

sunrise on the road

I'm going to have to make this a five part series of posts about my trip to the Kruger National Park. There is a lot to write about and, as you probably know, I love being in the wild, especially where there are lots of animals.
We left the farm at 5.15 in the morning intending to stop along the way for breakfast. Taking pictures while traveling in dark conditions isn't exactly easy, long exposure with lots of jiggling and joggling, but I did manage to get a shot or two of the sunrise. I had every intention of writing about the whole trip so knew each step of the five hour journey was going to have to be photographed. Shelley was in the back of the car catching up on a few zzz's, she'd only gotten back to the farm after ten the previous evening having been to lectures after work. She's studying for her through Unisa, an internationally recognized distance learning institute here in South Africa
After 270 kilometers we arrived at a little town by the name of Dullstroom. This is where we decided to stop for a bite to eat and a little souvenir shopping.  You must understand that this is a major tourist rout from the Kruger Park and there are lots of quaint little restaurants and knickknack shops on either side of the main road. We first went into Dullstroom Art, Craft and Accommodation to see what there was of interest.
Shelley shopping
It was very cold that early in the morning and the shop interior was a bit too dark for decent photography. While Jason and Shelley browsed I went outside to take a few pictures of the town. Fascinating place actually, rich in history and antiquities. The buildings only stretch back a few hundred meters on either side along the road. It makes such a difference to see churches and Godliness in these small rural towns, definitely something Johannesburg is lacking, well in my opinion anyway.
There is a monument there that has been erected to thank God for answered pray during the Battle of Blood river that took place in the early 1800's. It reads, "The promise of 1838.The Voortrekkers, with the victory at Bloodriver.
Here we stand before the Holy God of heaven and earth to pledge a promise to him that if He will protect us and deliver our enemy over to us, we will this day and this date every year dedicate it to be a Sabbath and build a house for him.......... and so on and so on . I'm not going to translate the whole thing. They did build a house for God there.
After a bit of wandering around we eventually settled for a breakfast and coffee at Harries Pancakes a spot that both Shelley and Jason had visited before. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the dishes we ordered, we were all very hungry by that stage so, after a prayer to say thank you to God, we tucked straight in. We were there for about an hour and then hit the road again. We were still in the High Veld and since this is a Summer rainfall area everything was dry with brown grasses and leafless trees. Our journey necessitated traveling through quiet towns, a pass and then the J.G.Strijdom tunnel to the Low veld.
After a couple of toilet stops on the way we eventually arrived at the Klaserie Private nature Reserve turnoff six and a half hours later. It would still be another fifteen minutes of dust roads before we reached the camp site we would be staying at, Xihututu, an African name for Leadwood trees. The reason, in my opinion for the rather descriptive name, comes from the weight of this wood, it really is very heavy. There are a number of privately owned camps in Klaserie Nature reserve that have been joined to the Kruger National Park with all fences removed to facilitate the free movement of game throughout the area. The Pappin family, with whom we would be staying, own an area of about 300 square hectares with two lodge areas, the Bush camp, where we would be staying and the River lodge.
I, of course, jumped out of the car with my camera and got busy looking around and exploring the place as soon as we arrived. It was not quite what I had expected, way more "up market" and much better, a delight to behold. We were the first to arrive and unpacked the car in no time. A couple of hours later we got a call from the River Lodge to say there were animals at the river and we must come down there so off we went in the Land Rover. The two lodges are not far apart but it is definitely not safe to be on foot in the reserve.
A herd of more than twenty elephant.
A whole herd of Elephants was waiting for us with Cape Buffaloes and a number of other lesser buck such as Antelope and Rooibok, Impala in English. What a delight. This is still on the first day only hours after we ad arrived. A lot of people visit this reserve and go for days without seeing any elephant at all, we were indeed blessed. Shelley and I, as the "Nuwelinge" Newbies, were introduced to Ros, the owner of this little piece of paradise, and Granny.
Granny and Ros preparing snacks at the River Lodge.
Some of the other guests were arriving by this stage but we would only reach a full compliment of 16+1baby some time the next day.
We stayed at the River Lodge, which is built fairly high up in the curve of the river offering magnificent views of a long stretch of the river, for quite a few hours with the Elephants and buck hanging around too. This is when I became aware of the limitations of my 200 mm lens, definitely too small. Oh well, time to buy a bigger lens, maybe a 400 mm.
We were still going on a "Game Drive" that afternoon and I still had to make supper which would take a couple of hours at least.
This has already become a long blog post so I'm going to wrap it up for now. I'll post again tomorrow with lots of  pictures of animals.
I do realize that posting pictures of the animals here on my blog does pose a threat to them but since I'm not going to post GPS co-ordinates and so on, I'm hoping everyone will respect the severity of the danger to this little corner of paradise.
This particular section of the Kruger National Park is only open to invited guests and is not on the main Tourist route, no buses and not many vehicles.
Blessings to everyone from a very happy Geoff back on the farm in Mid Rand, Geoff.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Geoff it sounds like you had a wonderful time! Can't wait to read the rest of your blog posts and see your amazing photos.