Port St Johns to Nelspruit


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Africa » South Africa » Mpumalanga » Nelspruit
July 18th 2009
Published: July 18th 2009
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Snow on Black Mountain in Lesotho
Hello Everybody;
We've seen alot since my last entry. I don't think I mentioned in my last entry, but the last place we were at, Coffey Bay, we met a South African guy there. Mike Schausser. He was totally blown away when he started talking to us because he lived in Durango for a year and a half and went to Ft. Lewis College. Then he punted for the University of Colorado Rams for 2 years. He'd been to Farmington many times and he and Aaron even knew some of the same people. Wild, it is a small world. Our next stop was Port St. Johns, staying at the Jungle Monkey Back packers. It was great. The scenery totally changed on our way there from tribal village living on a dry savannah to tribal living in the jungle. It was beautiful and there were actually monkeys swinging in the trees off their restaurant deck. The little town was a beehive of activity, it felt like real Africa, funky stores, street stalls, people cooking pots of food on the street, loud music on every corner. Very alive. They had 3 beautiful beaches there. The day after arriving we put on our suits,
Village Village Village

Lesotho Village
packed a lunch and set off for beach 3. It was a short drive, then a 25 minute hike. Totally secluded beach. We were the only ones there! We couldn't believe it. Sandy beach, big cliffs, jungle, monkeys watching us. It was great. 3 or 4 locals walked by on the far end of the beach going to their homes, but they were far away. We had great fun in the waves, soaked up the sun, picnicked. It was great. After we got back to the Jungle Monkey we discovered that swimming is not allowed at any of the beaches because their waters are so shark infested! Surprise! We didn't go in above our shoulders so I think we were okay. Walking back we had the most amazing ocean view. The sardine run is on down The Wild Coast and we were lucking enough to see a bait ball, a mass of sardines. Hundreds of birds were diving, then came the dolphins and then came the whales. It was an amazing site. We'd been hoping to take a surfing lesson or two coming up the coast, but the ocean has just been to rough, or it was to cold. Now we have to wait til we get back to the coast in Mozamibque. My friend Terri took just had an awesome vacation in Hawaii and she got up on her very first try, now I have to see if I can do it too!
After leaving Port St. John's we traveled back up into the mountains to Sani Pass Lodge. Stayed in a great little rondoval. The next morning we set off with a group to go into Lesotho for an overnight tour. Lesotho is a landlocked country right in the middle of Africa and is an African kingdom, the still have a ruling King. It was a bumpy ride in a Land Rover going up over 9,000 ft.. Besides us there was the guide, a student from Belgium, and 4 students from the Netherlands. All tribal living there, shephards tending flocks all along the way. We stopped and took a short hike and played in the snow. Then stopped for lunch where we were spotted by 5 kids who came running over. They asked a million questions, read every word printed on the Land Rover. Our guide said they mostly want to practice their English with people that really speak English. They are still out of school on winter break. One pulled up my pants leg and looked at my socks. They mostly are wrapped in blankets 24/7 there, except when they go to school they wear a uniform. They didn't beg, but asked for some our lunch. I gave each of them something. They're not starving, they just want something different to eat. Unlike the other villages we've been through where the kids hold out their hands and say "sweetie, sweetie" these kids asked if we had any oranges or apples. We all had apples in our lunch sack and gladly gave them away.
We stayed in a local village at the home of Ntate Thabiso Nguni. He built a dorm room with bunkbeds and arranged with the tour companies to host overnight stays in his village. It was really something. We say traditional cultural dances, learned how they build thier houses, visited the local traditional healer, went on a 2 hour pony trek in the mountains. By the way, Aaron is quite the horseman. It was spectaular. I don't understand how people with no running water, no electricty, no gas can turn our three of the best
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Boy and his Pony
meals I've ever eaten, including fresh baked whole wheat bread. They raise everything they eat. Corn, wheat, veggies, goat, sheep, cows. They sell Angora goat hair and Marino sheep wool from their flocks. They are a hard working people. I am so thankful that I don't have to wash my clothes in the river, haul water in buckets to my house, grind my own corn or wheat, or have to use an outhouse in the middle of the night and it's 28 degrees out. It was a wonderful experience with truly wonderful, giving people.
Our next stop was back down to the savannah to Hluhluwe (pronounced Shush-louie), in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Zululand. We stayed at HluHluwe Backpacker's, 2 minutes from the game park. We saw alot of animals, not big cats or hyena yet. Their big attraction is their white rhinos. They've really been successful at protecting them in their native habitat. Their is still a huge poaching threat and there are actually park rangers that hang from the trees in little tented hammocks throughout the night to try to catch poachers. They shoot first, ask questions later. We saw one huge beast that looked like a concrete wall. An adult
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Band with Oil Can Guitar
male weighs 4,000 pounds and this guy was every bit as big as a two ton pick-up truck, and very white. We had two days of great drives through there. This park also encompasses the largest estuary in Africa. We took a boat tour down it our last day there and saw wonderful bird life, lots of Hippos, up close, and crocodiles. It was wonderful. The Zulu's really try to conserve the wild. They have hundreds of miles of coast line, jungle and savannah that people are not even allowed to go into and it's pretty guarded. You'll be heavily fined if you go in there. They are trying to keep some pockets of nature totally pristine. Our last night there at the backpackers we met 2 guys from Buenos Aires, Argentina. They are here with a theatre company putting on live theatre in some of the big cities. They were great. One had his guitar and they played and sang, it was alot of fun.
Last night we had a stop over stay in a place called Ermelo, very comfortable room. Huge nuclear plant before we got into town.
This morning we arrived in Nelspruit. We'll be heading out
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Pony Trekking
to Kruger Park for a 4 day safari starting Monday. I hope you're all well. Let us hear from you and what you're doing back home.
Til next time,
Carolyn & Aaron


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Lesotho

Our host Ntate Thabiso
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Lesotho

Um...Can I get a bigger horse?
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White Rhino

Hluhluwe Park
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Warthog

Hluhluwe Park
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St Lucia

A feast for the ages. Lobster, Prawns, Musses, Calamari and Fish.
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St Lucia

Goliath Crane


18th July 2009

Sounds like you both having an absolutely wonderful time!! I'm so happy you are getting to have such an awesome experience--have been thoroughly enjoying the travel blogs!
20th July 2009

Let me know where I can meet you!! I will be there in a heartbeat......Happy you both are having a time of your lives. We all miss you.....Be safe! Hugs, your sister Lea....
20th July 2009

Port St. Johns
So glad to get your notes and pictures--I share them with all my friends---We are all thinking about you guys. Take care--Be careful! Miss you! The pictures of you both really help! Rick Barnett

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