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Published: September 22nd 2006
Well I'll start at the beginning, probably easier that way.
Our flight was uneventful, we were situated between three babies, which i expected to be a cruel and noisy 10 hours however the little darlings made no noise at all. However we couldn't sleep for one reason or other. So we arrived at Johannesburg airport early on Fri morning and proceeded to sort out our car rental. Sarah then approached me having just spoken to the lady at Gwala Gwala, the game reserve we were to be staying at, and told me the drive was actually 6 hours there and not the 2-3 our travel agent had told us!
At this point I was seriously fighing sleep deprivation, which had just started to kick in so Sarah did the first half of the drive. We were looking for a road called the N4, the illusive N4 which we now call it, as before we managed to find it we went in and out of J burg Airport 3 times in an attempt to find the road that was to take us on to it. When we didn't find it we headed down a road which looked like it
was going in a good direction but ended up getting lost in a huge city called Perotia and having to be directed by three sets of people. I'm not going to go into the longest drive in the world but lets say it involved huge bloody pot holes, winding roads, me killing a bird -which I still feel bad about. There was a geat bit near the end which involved dirt tracks and Dukes of Hazards style flying over bumps in the car which was great fun until we hit a really big one and heard a nasty scarping sound but we were very close to our accomodation that we didn't really care.
The place we were to be staying was called Gwala Gwala. It is a game reserve situated just outside the Kruger National park. It uses tents and I wasn't looking greatly forward to camping on our first night but when we got there we were so pleasently surprised. These tents were luxury tents, but the word tent is so miss leading it is untrue. For starters we ended up with the honeymoon tent which had a Victorian bath and an outside shower. The whole thing was
covered by a canvas, zip up outer layer ( to keep the monkeys out we were told) but it had every thing a posh hotel room could offer including electricity and hot running water but the only thing separating us from the outside world was the canvas.
We began to notice the temperature dropping as we headed for dinner. Luckily I had a fleece which I put on and we got to the dining area we saw a huge fire was roaring which told us that is was probably going to go get even colder. As we discovered it is just coming into spring in South Africa and that means freezing temperatures at night- great!
The dinner was gourmet, so nice and were joined by Bush babies that sat on the fence waiting for their fruit which is put out for them at night. They are the sweetest little things. That night I wore every single item of clothing I had bought with me, my god, it was cold. However the bed had an electric blanket which I had hadn't seen since my Nan and Grandad owned one in the early 80's. I've got to say, when I
head back to the UK I'm going to find one, it saved our freezing lives and would be great for out British winters. Before dropping off to sleep we heard some comedy wildlife calls, I couldn't tell you if they were from birds or animals but they managed to make us both burst out laughing.
The next morning I awoke to the weirdest call of all. it sounded like a man doing a slow motion sneeze: 'Baaa....hoooo'. It sounded quite near the tent and when I enquired about it I was told it could be a baboon. Then I was told that because our tent is sitting on a small stream they often get hyenas and large game including cheetah's drinking from it. ( hello sleepless nights!!)
We then headed on a bush drive where Dorian, one of our lovely hosts. He showed us the game in Gwala Gwala, although they didn't have many of the big 5 they had some cool animals. We saw a springbok, warthog, Bushbuck, mongoose, monitor lizard, Impala and Giraffes. Giraffes were so great, I've never seen one in the wild, they are just very elegant and gentle, They will give you a
funny look but then get on with eating, which they seem to mostly do. We learned about the different types of trees, their medial properties and about the different poo, which was slightly ick but strangely interesting.
In the afternoon we were taken on another game drive but this time in a place that had all the animals you could think of including the big five......
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