Published: October 16th 2006October 11th 2006
After spending (4) nights in London with the Joynts and catching up with several E&Y Alumni we caught an (11)hr flight to Johannesburg. A big thanks to the Joynts for allowing us to stay at their pad in London, and for the gang to show up for a few old ones!
Spent (2) nights in Sandton, Johannesburg at Garden Court Sandton City (nice hotel and rather inexpensive, however the taxi ride is $40). Joburg for the most part is not much farther head today than 20 years ago. Numerous former office buildings and hotels sit empty having moved to the northern suburbs after the fall of apartheid. The downtown core of Joburg resembles that of a ghetto - crime is extremely high and you don't dare dangle a camera or wear any jewerly while walking around. It is very very difficult to explain the feelings one has, but without going into detail we felt disgusted to see the amount of money in the northern white suburbs, lined with opulent malls, chic restaurants, and loads of mercedes, while minutes away hundreds of thousands live in townships where poverty is still the common way of live for the majority of people here.
Joburg resembles the 1st world in the white areas, which now shows signs of black middle class families making headway, while the majority still live in the 3rd world. The problem that remains in much of South Africa, like everywhere else in the world, economics dictates where you live. However, having been suppressed for so many years it will take several generations to see equal footing among the races - if ever.
The people in Joburg are extremely friendly and their smiles and humor are contagious. It is extremely hard to imagine how one goes forward without showing any bitterness and hatred given the past hardships and the lack of change that has occured so far. During our stay we did the touristy thing, tour of Joburg, and visiting the township of Soweto which is home to the Mandela and Hector Pieterson Square Memorial Museums.
Okay now the fun really begins...After a 45min flight from Joburg to the Mala Mala airstrip and a 45min drive through the bush in an open Land Rover we arrived at Lions Sands - River Lodge, located on the banks of the Sabie River. The lodge is in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin that
borders Kruger National park - it is a private game reserve that covers 4,000 hectares. From the minute we stepped into the Land Rover at the airstrip we knew that we were in for something special. It was the highlight of our trip so far and was a once in a life time experience. Lions Sands was absolutely incredible, they feed us (7) times a day, the food was out of this world, the local people that made up the staff were extremely friendly, and at no time did we have more than (6) people in the Land Rover during our game drives. Last but not least, we saw the Big (5) several times, both during the morning and night drives.
During our 2nd drive at 5:45am - 9:00am we encountered a male lepoard that had just eaten its kill. What an incredible sight. He walked towards us and by us - no exaggeration he was no further than (2) feet away from me - I was paralyzed as he starred up at me with his enormous eyes before moving on. For all our Big (5) sightings we were always able to drive up to within (5) feet. Believe
me these are not tame animals nor is the reserve fenced in - this is the real thing man and you do get shivers up and down your spine when you see these animals so close. We won't recount all of our sightings but the (3) leopards, (2) lion pride and the hyena den sightings were the highlights - Isabel was over the moon with our giraffe and zebra sightings, a wee bit less intense!!!
Here is a list of our schedule and sightings:
Drive 1 - 4:30pm (Greater Kudus, Warthogs, Impalas, African Elephant & Young Leopard)
Drive 2 - 5:45am (African Buffalo, Hippos, African Elephants, Dominant Male Leopard & Zebras)
Drive 3 - 4:30pm (Blue Wilderbeest, Spotted Hyena, Rhino and Dominant Male Leopard)
Drive 4 5:45am (Rhinos, African Buffalo, Herd of African Elephants, Pride of Lions, Giraffe & Zebras)
Drive 5 4:30pm (Herd of Elephants, Rhinos and Girafee)
Drive 6 5:45am (Rhinos, Herd of Elephants, African Buffalos, Hippos, Giraffee, Greater Kudus & Impala)
We hope the pictures tell our story more accurately.
There are more photos below