Published: May 27th 2012May 26th 2012
This little trip started few days before the flight with a little stress...who was going to take care of Leslie and Tiffany for 18 days. The problem was happily solved a week before my flight. Now that I'm back home, I can conclude that Tiffany and Leslie have gathered some more independance skills....these little guys are growing fast, and I'm an happy Dad! There are no problems, there are only solutions...I was going to apply this during my trip too!
It all started with what should have been a little stop-over on the way to Congo. Few flights a week between Joburg and Lubumbbashi, fewer flights even between Bangkok and Joburg. Original plan was to stay for 23 hours in Joburg. I tried the new train direct to Sandton, the Gautrain, a pretty impressive ride. That day, I visited the huge shopping center of Mandela Square in Sandton, and I can say, shopping in South Africa is not really of any quality. Ok, I got some nice bottles of wine for friends in Congo. That afternoon, I play golf at Killarney, a pretty interesting course.
Next morning, early rise to catch my flight
to Lubumbashi. I normally pick my visa on arrival...not this time...they had "forgotten" a paper on the other side, I would not made it on that morning flight. So back to the net...this time booking a car, finding a place for the night, and hoping I could get on the next day flight. That afternoon, I went to play golf at Glendower, and had a very interesting, if not scary drive through Alexandria, one of the biggest township of Joburg...what was I thinking! Oh, yes, next morning, few more calls, but problem solved, I went on my plane...ouf!
I stay a short week in Lubumbashi. I am feeling like at home by now in Lubumbashi. Spending a month per year here over the last three years. I posted a pic of one of the place where I spend a lot of time meeting my clients...not a bad place. Week-end was spent working, partying, and playing a round of golf on Saturday.
By Thursday I made my way to Kinshasa, two hours by plane from Lubumbashi. If you want to do the same overland, it could take you easily three weeks! Kinshasa is the capital
of RDC and a huge city. Big buildings, huge "boulevards"...and not really a place you want to walk around. If you walk around in Lubumbashi, people smile at you and greet you hello...no "bonjour" in Kin, and the smiles are not existant on the streets of Kinshasa, this is just another world.
I spent my week-end...partying again, and playing the Kinshasa Golf Open. I didn't play well, but that was not the point, it was fun time! I also took 2 hours on Friday to go around the city to try to get a sense of direction. The River Congo was actually pretty impressive...with huge rapids...and on the other side of the river, Brazzaville, the Capital of the Republic of Congo. It's just across the river, but most people here never ever cross the river, except when it's time to evacuate!
By Wednesday it was time to say bye bye to Congo for this time, I'll be back soon. I was on the four hours flight south to Joburg, this time picking up a rented car to drive 3 hours East to Nelspruit.
Nelspruit, in the tourist world, is considered as
the gate to the Kruger park, one of the biggest safari area in the world. Safari was not on my plan, well, that what I thought! I spent my first and third night at the Mercure Nelspruit, a pretty uneventful hotel.
My first morning I drove North the Panorama road to visit the Blyde Canyon. This is supposed to be one of the deepest canyon in the world, it is also a green canyon. I saw the potholes and the Three Rondavels as well as the full Canyon...and not many tourists around.
My afternoon was spent playing golf at White River. I also stay in a great deal of a little hotel call Oliver. They have 9 cute rooms...dirt cheap for a luxury B&B...the restaurant was even cheaper...try to beat this...bottle of shiraz, carpaccio of beef, shank of lamb...for 40usd!
My next day was THE goal...playing Leopard Creek Colf Club. This place has been voted the number one golf course by Golf Digest 6 times over the last 7 years ( last year it was Fancourt, which I played years ago too)! Slight issue, this place is very, I mean very private. You may own one of
the 100 multi-millions USD mansions, or know somebody who does...not me! Or you can stay in a short list of 15 hotels and lodges...most of them with a price tag well over 1500usd a night...and Oliver's, at less than 150usd a night...done!
The green fee is pretty steep, but the experience is there to remember. The management had a small issue, with 50% of their staff on strike for the last few days...made it for some fun encounters after I passed the gate.
The golf experience is simply magic. The golf is next to the Kruger Park...and on the par 5 13th, where I did a birdie, you have the river with the hippos next below the green...impressive! I also saw many elephants right outside the terrace of the clubhouse, wow! But the most impressive experience must have been the encounter with two giraffes for a good twenty minutes.
How do you react to giraffes? The are eating vegetation...are supposed to be shy too. I was on my own, on foot and with a golf cart...and those two guys where very, I mean very curious, coming in a range of less than 20
meters of me...could they charged? I had no idea, but didn't want to give it a try....big guys...fun guys! It was me and two giraffes for two fun golf holes, a really nice experience.
I didn't really scored well....but that's kind of normal on such a tough course, but it was a great experience. I'll be back in Africa early September, for more work, more friends and some golf. For the sharks of South Africa, just wait for November, the hammerhead season is coming back!
It's good to be home. A pretty quiet month of June is ahead of us, but summer holidays are coming, with a lot of new adventures for us...
There are more photos below