Dawn was breaking as I drew back the curtain to check on the status of the weather and was pleased to see it was another fine sky overhead which should make for a pleasant flight north to Johannesburg so we can position ourselves ready to head to Kruger National Park tomorrow.
Again, although the bed was firm we both had a good night’s sleep with the added bonus that there was no early morning phone call from Auckland from someone who had found ‘our wandering dog’.
With the car to be dropped off at Port Elizabeth airport this morning we have spent a bit of time condensing our possessions so the it fits again into a suitcase and a backpack each and that includes the gin and vodka that we still have left. We have done our darndest to consume it all but we are left with 500ml of each we have now transferred into used plastic water bottles. We shall just have to remember what is in them and not take a swig expecting the contents to be water only to find it is gin or vodka,neat !
The notes on the 2 game parks we are
going to say that you shouldn’t bring your own alcohol but it would seem a shame to leave the remaining contents behind for someone to enjoy. We don’t expect that our bags will be checked for illicit booze.
Not that we are expecting alcohol to be expensive to buy at the two game lodges given the prices in restaurants and even allowing for remoteness.
Hein, our host, was up and about ready to serve us breakfast. He works from home and Karen, his wife is a teacher.
Another very tasty and fulfilling breakfast was had and again no lunch will be required today.
As we packed the car up we took note that the electrified fence is atop the fence right around the perimeter of the property but we guess this does give the occupants the security they feel they need and in an odd sort of way it creates a little haven feeling within the large property.
We headed on our way to the airport through Summerstrand which is a very affluent neighbourhood with almost every home behind a high, solid wall and an electrified fence on the top.
We were soon at
the car rental return and after a quick check to see we hadn’t put any dings in the vehicle we placed our suitcases on a trolley and walked across the road to the airport terminal building.
What struck us first was it was a lot more modern than Cape Town with brighter lighting.
Although it is an international airport there didn’t seem to be many flights leaving in the 2 1/2 hours we had to wait for our departure to Jo’burg.
In fact when headed upstairs to the Wimpy restaurant for a coffee we noticed there wasn’t one aircraft to be seen in front of the terminal ready to head off somewhere.
On entering the restaurant we were asked to park the trolley with our suitcases outside with a staff member noting that would be OK.
Upon leaving the restaurant we heard an announcement that reminded travellers not to leave their luggage unattended or it would be removed from the terminal as the airport authority wanted to ensure all travellers safety ! Well, we suppose our luggage was sort of attended in that the staff at the entry to the restaurant had said it was
OK to leave it there. Any way it was still there waiting for us and not out on the pavement outside the terminal because it didn’t look like it had an owner.
Waiting for the bag drop to open for our flight the Sharks Super 15 rugby team trooped by us on their way from Durban to Cape Town after their defeat by the Hurricanes. They were taking a British Airways flight to Cape Town which seemed a bit odd but it appears that British Airways must fly regional routes within South Africa. Later as we waited in the departure lounge for our flight to board we noticed two British Airways aircraft at the departure gates.
Going through security here seemed very relaxed and even the coins in my pockets didn’t set the security scanner off.
It didn’t seem possible for a flight to arrive in, disgorge its 100 off passengers, refuel and reload and be off the ground within 30 minutes but we weren’t that far off when our South African Airbus 319-101 was loaded and on its way to Jo’burg.
The flight was smooth and even from 38000 feet you could make out the
territory we were flying over which looked very brown.
We were served a snack of a filled bread roll and cold drink and the 1 hr 40 mins flight time shot by and soon we were on our approach to the metropolis of Jo’burg.
The weather here was as fine as it was in Port Elizabeth although as you might expect from a city with a population approaching 10 million people there was a yellowish smudge on the horizon from the pollution from the heavily industrialised city.
The city is at 1700 metres above sea level and we might have expected to feel a little short of breath and perhaps this will affect us eventually as we become accustomed to the rarefied air. Not that we are here for long because tomorrow morning at 6.46 am we are off to Kruger National Park.
Gretchen has developed a love for being greeted at an airport arrivals hall by a man with her name on a board and today was no different as we didn’t even have to phone our accommodation to let them know we have arrived at the airport.
The guy took us to the
Safari Club establishment vehicle in the adjacent car park and we were on our way to the nearby lodge which will be our home for the night(and 2 further nights as we come and go from safaris and Botswana over the next couple of weeks).
Emerging from the airport road onto the highway passing the airport we had 5 lanes in each direction marked for a maximum 120kph and a roadway that we guessed was moderately busy but still with traffic whizzing along at a good speed.
Our driver was very careful and we talked with him about when we arrived, where we had been and where we were going as he carefully switched lanes and exited the highway after a few minutes of travel to take us to a little quiet haven amidst all this traffic that is the Safari Club Lodge.
We checked in and were escorted to our large room adorned with a large photo of an elephant and her baby on one wall. The room has a traditional thatched roof and all in all the enclosed lodge with two electronic gates was a quiet haven just off the motorway from the airport. Our view from the room is over a green lawn and trees that would provide valuable shade in the hot summers they experience in Jo’burg.
We enjoyed a drink out in the garden area with just the noise of a landing aircraft overhead every so often but in-between times the sounds of chirping birds. And all this within the environments of a very large city.
We were the only people in for dinner tonight, apparently other guests were arriving back from self drive safaris and also off a KLM flight from Amsterdam at 10pm tonight.
We had a thoughtful discussion with the guy on the front desk and also the waitress both of whom were from Zimbabwe and came to South Africa for work and a better life saying that Zimbabwe since Mugabe is no better than it was and in fact may be going backwards.
So bright and early tomorrow morning, 6.15am actually, we will be transported to the airport bus station with a packed breakfast to have on our travel to Kruger National Park and the adventure will really start !
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