Published: November 6th 2007October 25th 2007
The Pictures Speak For Themselves
It seemed like a crazy thing to even consider this late in our trip. Here we had spent almost 5 months straight in Europe and the surrounding area and were getting on a plane to head as far south in Africa as we could get. As we left our hotel in Barcelona, at 6pm on Tuesday, I wondered how I had let Kel talk me into a crazy trip a quarter of the way around the world.
Really, she can be pretty persuasive when she wants to be. After five years of marriage you know someone pretty well and know their weak spots. If aimed correctly, an argument, for or against something, can really knock a person over if their defenses are breached, and breach my defenses she did.
Back when we were in Croatia, Kel had brought up the African Safari Argument
for, I believe, the third time. Unlike the other times she was greatly successful. Prior to this infamous discussion, Kel’s attempts at getting me on the long flight to South Africa had been complete failures. This time was completely different because of one key argument: Kel:
“I want to go on a safari and it’s really important to me. If we don’t do this, know it will be my one big regret about this trip.” Mike:
“ I just don’t think I have it in me to fly that far this late in the trip. We can always do it at another time. We are still young and can go to Africa later.”
A pause for thought was followed by the knock out punch… Kel:
“I’m not going to let this idea die. If we don’t do this now, we’ll have to do it later in our lives and instead of flying from Europe, you’ll have to do it from the US which is almost twice as long.” Mike:
At this point I was contemplating the idea of 15 hours or more of flights just to get to Johannesburg and then travel on from there. This idea of long distance travel is a huge weakness of mine. I just hate traveling that far and wimp out big time any time we have to fly more than 6 hours. The whole reason
Photo By Spencer Hirst
I didn’t want to go in the first place was due to the long travel time; thus, an even longer trip in the near future sounded like a nightmare to me. After some serious contemplation that actually took me two days, the following response was issued. Mike:
“OK, book us a trip to do a safari but make sure it happens before the end of the trip so that we don’t have to fly directly from SA back to the US.” Kel:
The rest is history, at least on the planning side of things. The trip from Barcelona to our first safari camp in SA turned out to be a bit more travel than I had expected. It actually turns out, with an SA Airlines flight directly from JFK to Johannesburg, you could fly from the US and take less time to get where we were going. Ouch! To Kel’s credit, she did get us an 8 hour flight from Spain - South Africa, it just turns out that there’s a few more little flights to be had before actually touching down in the bush camp.
By the time we arrived
at our camp in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, we had traveled 22 hours and taken 4 flights. After the flights from Barcelona to Madrid and then Madrid to Johannesburg, I was wiped out. Then we discovered we had to take a small prop plane to Kruger National Park where we got on the smallest plane I have ever flown in. With only four seats in the plane and one other person, the pilot, we got a harrowing (Kel thought it was cool) flight from Kruger to an airstrip near our camp. Any gust of wind buffeted our plane and caused more than minor jostling. I eventually closed my eyes and did my best to zone out.
By time we arrived at camp, I was hungry and very, very tired. We ate some dinner but pretty much just crashed. Out next day was going to be an early one because game drives start at sun up which meant being in a car at 5:30am. Rest was the only thing on our minds as we ate dinner and went to bed. Photography Safari Style
For those of you who are big TravelBlog readers, this next section
will not really be interesting because you, no doubt, have read a plethora of safari blogs. For those of you good friends from home, this could be interesting as I’m sure that most of you have no idea what to expect from an honest to goodness African safari. I know we didn’t.
Throughout our time in the Timbavati, our days were relatively simple from a scheduling point of view. Everyday started with a wake up call at 5:30am. By 5:45 everyone in the camp was up and out of their rooms getting a quick spot of tea and some biscuits (cookies for us American types) before we boarded our safari vehicles by 6am at the latest.
The average safari vehicle is exactly what you would expect. In most cases they are Land Rovers (sometimes they are Toyota Land Cruisers though) that have had their roofs taken off to reveal a seating area for a driver and up to 10 passengers. Never did we actually have a full load of ten, but ten could, with a bit of squeezing, be accommodated. All of these vehicles are formidable off road machines with a full accoutrement of big knobby tires and
spring suspension which allowed our driver to take us through almost any situation.
We would drive around the African bush in search of interesting wild animals until 9:30am when we would return to camp to take a siesta, get some breakfast, and later some lunch, before our afternoon drive back into the wilderness. From 4pm until around 7pm we would continue our trek to find nature. After our return we would all wash and change before a late, usually 8pm, dinner and the off to an early bed time to start the whole thing over again.
During our two and a half days in the Timbavati we were incredibly lucky when it came to animals but were not so blessed with weather. During this time of year we were expecting near summer temperature and were told that this meant hot sunny days and cool temperate nights. Instead we got rain, cold and wind. For almost our whole time there, the temperatures were in the 50’s Fahrenheit or teens for you Celsius lovers. The skies were cold and gray and the winds whipped up to a shocking 15 miles per hour. The temperatures did absolutely nothing to stop us
but it certainly kept us bundled up in coats and rain gear.
We really lucked out and got, not only a truck that wasn’t completely full, but we spent all of our days together with the same family. Kel and I really hit it off with Spencer Hirst who was finishing a semester abroad at a university near Cape Town. Spencer was interested in photography so Kel and I let him borrow Kel's camera for some of the game drives. He really caught some great shots, they were so good that a few of them made it to the blog. Keep your eye out for them, I have labeled his pics with his name so that you know which pictures were his (the rest are ours). Having three fun other tourists on our daily trips into the wild really made our trip that much more enjoyable. Thanks so much guys, it was great hanging out with you and special thanks to Spencer for letting us keep his great pictures!
During our few days in the park we saw the following animals on the drives: 10/24 Morning Drive:
Impala, Lions, Grey Hornbilled Bird, Elephants, and Cape Buffalo 10/24 Evening Drive:
Impalas, Lions, Zebra 10/25 Morning Drive:
Yellow Hornbilled Bird and Waterbucks (Not the best of drives due to inclement weather…turns out animals don’t like wind and rain any more than we do) 10/25 Evening Drive:
Elephants, Lions, Zebra, and a Leopard 10/26 Morning Drive:
Monkeys, Cape Buffalo, Heron, and Lions (eating the Zebra we had seen the day before. Circle of Life and all that)
After our morning drive on the 26th we were driven from our first camp to our second which was further north in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. If you like these pictures, hold your breath because there’s more to come.
Hope everyone at home is doing great. Thanks for reading!! Take a moment to browse the other three pages of pictures. I couldn't limit the number to just a few. There are so many good ones that I put almost 75 up on this blog. Enjoy!
There are more photos below