Archive for October, 2014

Summary of our African Adventure 2014

On the flight from Brisbane, we talked about how high our expectations were for our African adventure and we had come to the conclusion that they were much higher than they probably should have been. However, our holiday was even more amazing than we ever thought possible!!!
Some of our highlights were: Walking with the cheetahs; playing with the lion cubs; magnificent dining on the Rovos Rail train; riding the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and looking down on Cape Town spread below us; being at the most southerly point of the African continent; the many fabulous game drives we did where we saw and were so close to more animals than we thought possible; our helicopter flight through the Zambezi Gorge and over Victoria Falls; the Zambezi Queen and our adventures on the Chobe River; and our afternoon with the Lions.
We stayed in some of the most amazing accommodation from the luxury of our suite at Sabi Sands – Kruger National Park, to the suite at the Pezula Resort in Kynsna, to the tented accommodation at Thanda Private Game Reserve, the opulence of our suite on the Rovos Rail train and our master suite on the Zambezi Queen – and all of the other hotels, which were of higher than expected standard.
Our adventures took us into South Africa, Swaziland, Zululand, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Western Australia!
We travelled by aeroplanes, private limousine, electric vehicle, four-wheel drive buses, mini-buses, coach buses, steam train, cable car, funicular, open 4 wheel drive land rovers, helicopter, tender boats and river boat.
We were fortunate to see a fair bit of Southern Africa: from the open plains to the dramatic mountains and gorges; the rugged bushland; the wonders of the national parks, with their rivers and abundant and varied wildlife; and some of the spectacular coastline
We met some lovely people in Africa, including the local guides and rangers and we were impressed with the friendliness and warmth of the people that we encountered in the hotels, restaurants and tourist environments.
We were so impressed with our APT tour and especially our tour director, Delia, who made sure that our holiday was so perfect. We also enjoyed travelling with our fellow tour group members, who were always jovial and fun to be with and we were delighted with the degree of camaraderie that was developed in such a short time.
We had a wonderful time in Perth with Maria & Dennis, Tim & Rachel, Imogen & Carys. We were so fortunate that Tim & Rachel took us to visit the Pinnacles and also give us an insight into just how beautiful Perth is.
We have taken 6,340 photos and a few short videos and we have a store of the most magnificent memories that will stay with us forever!

Sunday 12 October Perth to Brisbane

This morning after breakfast, we went for our last walk along the Swan River and found two Black Swans and a baby cygnet, in Lake Vasto near Riverside Drive.
At 11.00am we checked out of the Hyatt and caught a taxi to the airport for our 1.00pm flight to Brisbane. Although our flying time was only approximately four and a half hours, because of the time zones, we arrived in Brisbane at approximately 7.15pm after a pleasant flight where we even saw some of the South Australian Lakes from our window.
We were very pleased to see Katharine and our beautiful grandson, Patrick waiting for us with hugs and kisses. We arrived home safely and enjoyed catching up with some of the news from Katharine while we waited for Steve to join us after church.
This marks the end of our amazing holiday.

Zambezi Queen to Johannesburg to Perth

WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER ZAMBEZI QUEEN TO JOHANNESBURG TO PERTH 9 OCTOBER
We watched the sunrise over the river from our bed this morning. Breakfast was set for 7.00am as most of us were leaving the boat at 8.15am. We have thoroughly enjoyed our short stay on board the Zambezi Queen and wished that we could have spent more time on the Chobe River. We would have liked to spend more time exploring and photographing the wildlife that abounds in this area and also to have had more time onboard to simply relax and enjoy the surroundings and company of our fellow passengers and crew. For us, it was a unique and friendly experience that has not lost the spirit of all that is uniquely African.
At 8.15am, we boarded the tender boats and all the crew sang a traditional farewell to us as we headed up the river to start the border crossing processes that would eventually take us back to Livingstone. We did in reverse the complicated and unusual process that we had followed on Monday. The only change being that the Namibian Immigration Office was actually in operation and we didn’t have to go to the local police station to get our passports stamped. Tender boat to exit Namibia, tender boat to enter Botswana, bus ride to exit point for Botswana, river crossing to enter Zambia and then an hour’s drive to Livingstone Airport. The process didn’t seem to be as bad as it was on Monday as we were fresh and it wasn’t yet as hot.
We arrived in Livingstone at 11.30am and our flight on an Airbus A319-100 to Johannesburg, left at 1.15pm arriving in Johannesburg at 2.45pm. We were lucky in that we had three seats for the two of us and lots of leg room so it was a comfortable flight. We had a cup of tea/coffee and then headed to the shops for more souvenir shopping before having dinner at the Mug and Bean.
We wandered around the shops and then made our way to the departure lounge only to be told not long before our flight was due to be called to board, that we needed to all leave the departure lounge and line up to have an impromptu bag search. By the time they had finished that, our flight was called and we boarded our South African Airways A340-600 aircraft for the next leg of our homeward journey. For the first time in all our travelling, we found this aircraft to be most uncomfortable for a long haul flight. Although we were in the two seats of a 2-4-2 configuration, we found the seats to be narrow, no long room and virtually no padding on the seats so they were hard and uncomfortable. They also had to reboot the entertainment system a couple of times to get it to work. The one good thing about the flight was that on the way home, they used the jet stream to their advantage and the flight only took approximately eight and a half hours, which was a significant reduction on the time that it took to get there.
We arrived at Perth airport for our three day stopover at approximately 12.45pm local time on Thursday 9 October and after clearing immigration and customs, even with some items to declare, we were out of the airport and into a taxi to the city in about an hour. By this stage we had been travelling for approximately 24 hours and were pleased that we had decided to stopover in Perth rather than to continue our journey back to Brisbane as that would have added a further 8 hours to our journey!!
We arrived at the Hyatt Regency and as we made our way to reception, there was a surprise for us – my beautiful sister, Maria, her son, Tim and his gorgeous girls Imogen and Carys were there to greet us. We had a cuppa and a lovely chat to them and then came up to our room to have showers etc. Our room overlooks the Swan River and Langley Park and is lovely.
We went for a walk along the Riverside, which was most enjoyable, taking in the lovely river and city views before returning to the Hyatt for dinner, updating our blog and an early night.

FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER PERTH AND FREMANTLE
This morning, we were picked up from our hotel at 7.30am and made our first stop on our Perth half-day tour at the stunning Kings Park Botanic Gardens, famous for its outstanding collection of Western Australia flora and is also popular for picnics, walks, cultural and ceremonial events. The State War Memorial was erected in 1929 and the Honour Avenues and special memorials throughout the Park are dedicated to those who died during service to Australia.
From this elevated vantage point we got fabulous views of the Perth city skyline, the Swan River and the Darling Ranges. We also had stunning views of the city and the river when we walked along the Tree Top Walkway.
We saw the 750-year-old baobab tree, relocated here from the central Australian desert, the lake in memory of the Pioneer Women, the Firefighters memorial, Christ Church Grammar School and the University of Western Australia.
We then re-boarded our coach and listened to onboard commentary from our driver as we toured through Perth. We saw:
• the legendary WACA cricket ground – home of cricket in Western Australia since the early 1890s. The first Test Match was played at the ground in 1970. The pitch at the WACA is regarded as one of the quickest and bounciest in the world and the outfield is said to be exceptionally fast.
• the Bell Tower – located next to the Swan River, the Swan Bells are a set of 18 bells hanging in a specially built 82.5 metre high copper and glass campanile, commonly known as the Bell Tower or the Swan Bell Tower.
• Perth’s grand main street, St Georges Terrace, which runs parallel to the Swan River and forms the major arterial road through the central business district. At its western end in the Barracks Arch. St George’s Terrace is named after St George’s Cathedral. Set into the footpath along the street are a series of commemorative plaques honouring notable figures in Western Australia’s history.
• Perth Mint, which played a central role in the development of Western Australia’s Gold industry. The mint produces Western Australia’s coins and has a 1 ton Gold Coin.
We also saw Government House, St George’s Clock Tower, Trinity Church, The Barrack’s Arch and Parliament House.
Our tour then took us to the coast where we passed Cottesloe Beach on our way to the historic port of Fremantle, where the river meets the sea. We had a quick tour through Fremantle and were dropped off opposite the Norfolk Hotel to go exploring. Some people on the tour were going back on the bus, others were catching the train of the ferry back and we met Maria & Dennis and their two gorgeous grand-daughters, Imogen and Carys. (Maria and Dennis are staying with their son, Tim and his wife, Rachel to spend some time with them while the girls are on school holidays.)
We all went for a walk through the Esplanade Reserve to the Fishing Boat Harbour and decided to have lunch in the Kailis’ Fish Market Café, which has just won some awards. After a delicious lunch and a lovely catch up chat, we wandered down through the boardwalk to the Western Australia Maritime Museum. In the forecourt, they had more than 400 outdoor galleries with 21,000 names inscribed on them as recognition of some of the immigrants who made Australia home. Sandy and Maria looked to see if their family had been recorded but we were advised that families had to register with proof of their ship’s arrival into Australia via Perth. Maria, who was 8 years old at the time, remembered the old buildings that we were taken to upon arrival to transit to Sydney.
We strolled thorugh the three levels of the museum seeing some fascinating things including Australia II, Alan Bond’s America’s Cup winning Yacht and various other small sailing boats, including a pearl lugger, an early harbour ferry, some old one and two man sailing boats, an old whaling boat and the first pilot boat to be used from Fremantle harbour.
Outside the museum was a cutaway section of the bow of an Oberon Class submarine and behind it the HMAS Ovens, an Oberon Class submarine set up as though she were in drydock.
We wandered past the Round House, a convict built prison and made our way along to the Inner Harbour for our Captain Cook cruise along the Swan River back to Perth. We enjoyed the changing scenery on the riverbanks and watching people enjoying themselves in various size boats on the river.
After we arrived at Barrack Jetty, we all walked to the Esplanade train station and caught the train to Cockburn Central, where Rachel and Tim picked us up. We were surprised at how modern, quiet and smooth the train was, as it scooted along the tracks, which went along the middle of the in bound and outbound lanes of the freeway.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Tim and Rachel’s house, chatting and laughing, as well as having a well-earned drink or two after a very full day! Tim and Maria drove us back to the hotel where there was only enough time to shower before happily falling asleep.

SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER PERTH – THE PINNACLES
Last night, Rachel and Tim asked us if we would like to join them, the two girls and Maria & Dennis to go adventuring. After breakfast, we met them outside the hotel – Rachel, Maria, Sandy and Carys in one car and Tim, Dennis, Richard and Imogen in the car – headed 245 kilometres north to explore the Pinnacles. The scenery was stunning as we drove along the Coral Coast, with wildflowers and native shrubs beside the road. We stopped at the fishing village of Lancelin at the “Kerfuffle by the Jetty” café for morning tea, overlooking the Lancelin Island Lagoon and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
We drove through the Nambung National Park, a few kilometres inland from the ocean to the Pinnacles Desert, where thousands of limestone pillars rise from the yellow/orange sand. The pinnacles vary in height and shape from a few inches to 10 feet tall. There seems to be no pattern to their location or their shape – some of them are jagged, sharp-edged columns, while others resemble tombstones. There are a few theories as to how they were formed – one of which is that they are petrified forests that were covered in sand that is now being eroded by wind and weather allowing the old petrified tree trunks to appear.
We have never seen anything like this before and were absolutely amazed by the formations as we wandered along the 2.5 kilometre trail through some of the Pinnacles, to a vantage point where we had a fantastic 360 degree view over the Pinnacles desert, out to the contrasting white sand dunes and the Indian Ocean.
From the Pinnacles we drove a short distance to another fishing village, Cervantes, where we had a lovely lunch at the Lobster Shack. After lunch we went for a walk along the beach, before returning to Perth to our hotel.
We said our goodbyes to Maria & Dennis, Rachel & Tim, Imogen & Carys, as we are heading back to Brisbane tomorrow. We have thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit to Perth and we were really pleased to be able to see so much and to spend precious time with Sandy’s family!

Zambezi Queen

MONDAY 6 OCTOBER LIVINGSTONE TO KASANE AND ZAMBEZI QUEEN 30 DEGREES
After a very leisurely breakfast and a slow start to our day, we repacked our bags and at 11.00am headed off in two mini-buses with trailers attached for our luggage, to travel 90 minutes to the first of our checkpoints, the Kazungula Customs Service Point. The long process was just beginning!!
On our way to the river, there were dozens of trucks lined up, waiting to cross the river in the only vehicle ferry – the estimated time for them to clear the checkpoint and get across was one week! Normally there are 4 ferries working and customs are able to clear up to 40 trucks per day but at the moment, they are only clearing 5 trucks per day.
After our passports were stamped for us to clear Zambia, we were loaded onto a tender boat and ferried across the river. We crossed the confluence of two rivers, the Zambezi River and the Chobe River and we were at Africa’s “Four Corners” where four independent countries meet. As we crossed the river, we had Zimbabwe to our left, Botswana straight ahead, Namibia to our right and Zambia behind us.
On reaching the Botswana bank, our boat nosed in, lowered the front and we all climbed out and onto two small buses that were waiting for us. The boat then went back to the other side and collected our luggage and after it was loaded into the two trailers attached to our buses, we drove the short distance to a Checkpoint where the Botswana officials came on board to check our passports to ensure that we had not been in any of the Ebola countries. We then drove the short distance to the official border and had our passports stamped for entry into Botswana.
Back on the buses, we drove through Kasane, which serves as the administrative centre for the Chobe District. Kasane is also known as the location for the remarriage of Elizabeth Taylor to Richard Burton in 1975. We were taken to the Chobe Marina Lodge for some quick refreshments, a comfort stop and to complete some paperwork.
Then we were loaded onto two tender boats and our luggage onto a third tender boat, which went straight to the Zambezi Queen. We were taken to the Botswana side of the Chobe River to have our passports stamped to leave Botswana – what a quick visit to Botswana!! Then we were taken over to the Namibian side of the river and walked up a steep dirt track up a hill to the Border crossing to have our passports stamped for entry into Namibia, back down the hill, back onto the tender boats and then we were taken up the river to where the Zambezi Queen was moored.
After approximately FIVE hours, we finally boarded the Zambezi Queen for our cruise along the Chobe River!!! We were welcomed on board by the staff waiting with cool clothes and cold drinks and ushered upstairs to the dining for a snack that they had ready for us and our River Cruise along the Chobe River could begin!
The Zambezi Queen was built in 2009 and is 45.7m long with a beam of 7.8m and has a maximum total of 30 passengers on board. The top deck houses the dining area, a lounge, bar and outdoor areas. The Second deck has 10 suites, each with a balcony and the First deck has 5 suites each with a balcony, as well as the kitchen cooking area and staff areas. To surprise Richard, Sandy had organised for us to have one of the four Master Suites and ours is at the front of the boat and has a balcony at the side and an additional balcony at the front with table & chairs and ample area to sit and admire the view. After checking out our suite, we then joined the others on the top deck, watching a variety of animals pass by as we headed up the Chobe River four sundown cruise and then on to our nightly mooring.
The Chobe River divides Namibia’s Caprivi Strip from Botswana’s Chobe National Park, which is 11 000 square kilometres of African bush, and is home to the largest population of elephants in the world – currently estimated at roughly 120,000. Along the river we saw some buffalo, elephants, antelopes of various types, cows, hippopotamus and a rich selection of bird life.
We enjoyed dinner with Tony & Carol (from Wynnum) and Graham & Mary – lovely food and great company. We headed off to bed at about 10.00 pm after an exhausting but enjoyable day as we relaxed on board the Zambezi Queen.

TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER ZAMBEZI QUEEN
We enjoyed a relaxed breakfast while we watched for animals along the river banks and then at 9.30am, we were loaded into the tender boats for a visit to a local Namibian Village, Ejambe Village. On our way, we saw some hippos in the River, one of whom obligingly opened its mouth for Richard to get a photo. We also saw some elephants, a water monitor lizard, and some Maribu Storks.
After about an hour, we arrived at the village and were greeted by the children and Joseph, who shook everyone’s hand – first a normal shake for the morning, then a thumb grip for the afternoon and then another normal shake for the night. Joseph took us up to the village and explained that the bottles and tin cans attached to a wire fence around the village was their early warning system to let them know that elephants were coming to try and steal their crops and vegetables.
There are 55 people living in the village and Joseph explained that if the house didn’t have a fence around it the man was single and if there was a fence made from tall reeds, then that meant that a family lived there. Some of their houses are made from clay an have tin roofs while others have thatched roofs.
The children, from the age of six, attend a boarding school about 3 kilometres away but come home for the weekends. There is also a Clinic/hospital near the school where the families can go for treatment and the women have their babies there. The men in the village are fishermen by trade and also have cattle and grow crops.
We were introduced to the former Head of the Village – the villagers have appointed his son to take over from him, as he is quite sick and aged 79 years.
After our tour of the village, we were taken to a communal area where the women, children and babies awaited us with a lovely welcome song and dance that we were invited to join in. One of the Zambezi staff members came with us to the Village as her sister lives there and she invited Sandy to come and dance, which Sandy enjoyed.
On our way back from the village, we saw some elephants, hippopotamus, a crocodile, kudu, open-billed storks and some white egrets.
When we arrived back at the boat just before 1.00pm, we went up to the lounge bar to have a cold drink and chat before enjoying a lovely lunch.
This afternoon at 4.00pm, we went for a water safari in our tender boats. In the two and a half hours that we travelled up and down the river, we saw a variety of bird life, including African Open Billed Stork, Egyptian Geese, Yellow Billed Egret, African Spoonbill and a Fish Eagle. We also saw several crocodiles, more elephants, some hippos, a giraffe, buffalo, baboons and Puku, which is an endangered species of antelope.
While we were on the river, our ranger/driver positioned the boat so that we could watch the sunset over the Chobe River, our last sunset in Africa! He also provided us with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and nibblies. Very pleasant!
We returned to the boat at 6.30pm to freshen up and get ready for our farewell dinner. After dinner, the Namibian staff entertained us with traditional songs and dance. They encouraged us to get up and join in the dance by tying one of their traditional beaded skirts around us and leading us in the steps – what fun and much laughter!!
After some speeches, we finally managed to tear ourselves away at 10.30pm to finish packing, have showers and get to bed after another beautiful day on the Chobe River.

Sunday 5 October Livingstone – 27 degrees

HELICOPTER FLIGHT OVER VICTORIA FALLS AND ZAMBEZI RIVER
After a good night’s sleep and a leisurely breakfast overlooking the Zambezi River, we headed off to United Air Charter’s Helipad at Baobab Ridge Helipad for our 30 minute flight. Us and 2 other couples boarded our Eurocopter E130B4 Collibri helicopter, with the two of us being put in the prime position in the front – Sandy next to the Pilot and Richard next to the window.
We took off from the helipad and flew at low level over the landscape with its Baobab trees, Mopani trees and Acacia trees to the Zambezi Gorge. As the pilot flew over the edge of the deep gorge, we had a magnificent view through the front bubble of the helicopter. The pilot lowered the helicopter into the bottom of the Batoka Gorge with its 800 feet towering cliffs and we had an exciting flight down the rapids, skimming along 50 feet above the water, weaving through the gorge. After a long straight rapid, the pilot lifted us up out of the gorge and headed to the falls, passing over several cultural villages.
We were delighted to discover that there were several huge waterfalls that couldn’t be seen from where we were yesterday and the pilot did figures of eight so that the people on both sides would get a great view as he explained various things through our headsets eg the reason we had to fly at 1500 feet above the falls was to maintain a clearance between us and the mist rising from the falls.
The pilot then took us over Livingstone Island and then Siloka Island and Mosi Oa Tunya game park, where we could see some elephants trying to stay cool under the shade of some tree.
We were really pleased that we had decided to do this extra long flight because it gave us the opportunity to really see the size and the grandeur of this natural phenomenon. We saw much mor of the falls from the air than we thought was actually there after our walk yesterday. We could really understand how breathtaking the falls would be during the wet season because they were spectacular today!!
When we arrived back at the hotel, we were greeted by men in tradition dress and a choir singing – just beautiful.
While we were waiting for our lunch to be delivered to our room, a number of zebras wandered past our verandah and stopped outside our room to graze – only in Africa!!
We had planned to have lunch on the verandah but our porter suggested that this might not be a good idea as the monkeys would be attracted to our food and try to steal some. Although we haven’t seen any monkeys here, we decided to take his advice and eat inside our room, looking out over the Upper Zambezi River.

LION INTERACTION
What an awesome experience we had this afternoon! The two of us and two other couples from our group, Kevin & Rosemary and Pete & Barbara, were collected from the hotel and taken to the Mukuni Big Five Safari Centre, about a 7 minute drive for here.
Our guide, James, talked to us about the lions and described how we should act around them and what would take place. He also told us that there would be three other handlers there to protect us and “make sure we went home with big smiles”. James gave each of us a stick approximately three feet long and described how we should use it to help us walk some rough terrain but also to use to distract the lion if it became too interested in us – we should put the end of the stick near its mouth and the lion would naturally chew on it playfully and lose interest in us. There was also a videographer, who took lots of footage of the afternoon and has promised to drop a CD/DVD into the hotel for us this evening.
We followed James down to the area that the other handlers were sitting with two lions, both aged 21 months – a male, Terry and a female, Diana, a brother and sister. We were introduced to the handlers and then to the lions and then each of us got to interact with them, patting them, talking to them and having our photos taken. When Sandy had her interaction with Diana, James asked her if she would like to scratch Diana under the chin and of course, she did – Diana appeared to enjoy it as much as Sandy did and proceeded to yawn, which then encouraged Sandy to scratch Diana behind her ear, which she also seemed to thoroughly enjoy!
Richard also enjoyed his time with both of the lions and couldn’t believe it when Terry, the male lion, opened his mouth to show us his teeth.
Each couple also had photos with both of the lions and they we all had the chance to walk with them. At one stage, Diana, the female lion, climbed up onto the fork of a tree. This presented us with a great photo opportunity, so each couple stood in front of the tree with her looking down on us. Neither of the lions were in a harness or restrained on a lead, so they were able to do as they pleased, and before too long Diana decided to come down.
When both of us were interacting with the lions at the same time, one of the handlers took our camera and took lots of photos for us.
Before we left the complex, James took us to see the Caracals and the Cheetahs.
We had an absolutely awesome afternoon and came back to the hotel elated!!
What a wonderful day we have had: flying in a helicopter over Victoria Falls this morning and playing with the lions this afternoon!!
There are lots of photos in the gallery on the website, although the late afternoon shadows made photography a bit tricky!

Saturday 4 October Johannesburg to Livingstone and Victoria Falls

This morning after breakfast, we were collected from our hotel and taken to the Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport for our 10.40am flight to Livingstone arriving at 12.30pm. Livingstone was named after David Livingstone, the British explorer who was the first European to explore the area. After our somewhat lengthy process to get our entry into Zambia approved, our group was picked up from the airport in two mini buses and taken on the 20 minute drive to our hotel, the Royal Livingstone, which is on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls. The hotel stretches along the banks of the Zambezi River, just a short walk to the entrance of The Victoria Falls.
After checking in, we were taken to our rooms and in front of our room, there were three zebras grazing on the grass!! After settling in to our room, which has a private verandah with table and chairs and overlooks the Zambezi River, we went for a wander around the very spacious grounds in the sunshine and very warm weather.
At 4.00pm, we met Delia and the others for a 10 minute walk to the Victoria Falls. While Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya “the Smoke that Thunders”, is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1708 metres and height of 108 metres, resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water during the wet season. Victoria Falls is approximately twice the height of Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of Horseshoe Falls. In the wet season, Victoria Falls has an average Flow Rate of 1,088 cubic metres per second. The roaring spray from the falls rises to a height of over 400 metres and sometimes even twice as high and is visible from up to 48 kilometres away.
As we are visiting the falls at the end of their dry season, there isn’t the volume of water coming down the river and so, while there were some impressive waterfalls, the whole 1708 metres of cliff face was not covered in cascading water as it would be in the wet season. We were a little disappointed that the falls were not as spectacular as we thought they would be. At the Main Falls, the water was powering over the cliff and we saw the mist rising high above the falls, so we certainly could see how stunning it would be in the wet season. The falls we saw today were the Rainbow Falls, Armchair Falls, Horseshoe Falls and the Main Falls. As part of the walk along the Zambia side of the river, we needed to go down many steps cut into the rock face and there were lots of lookout sections along the opposite side to the actual falls. We also walked over a bridge that was suspended high above the river below, which is called the Lower Zambezi River.
We arrived back at the hotel at about 5.45pm, just in time to see the sun setting over the Zambezi River just outside our room.
We had a lovely group dinner here at the Royal Livingstone Hotel out on the Restaurant deck – it has been quite warm here today, so it was very pleasant sitting there with a soft breeze blowing in off the river. The food was delicious and the company was good, with lots of fun and laughter.

Thursday 2 October Kruger National Park and Friday 3 October Kruger to Johannesburg

Thursday 2 October Kruger National Park
After a good night’s sleep, we were up at 5.00am to get organised for our early morning Game Drive. After a cuppa, we headed off to see what we could find although we were without our tracker, Omega, as he hurt his knee yesterday.
Allan told us that there had been a brief sighting of some Rhino last night and so he suggested that we set off to see if we could find them in the area they had been seen. We crossed the river on a narrow one lane wooden bridge and before too long, he found some Rhino tracks and we followed them for some time, going in and out of seldom used tracks to try and find them.
We saw some Impala, Bushbuck a Gray Duika, African Fish Eagle, a larger Male Bushbuck and then we found some elephants, including a mother and her baby. We also saw 2 young male elephants, who were lagging at the back of the herd.
We continued to track the rhinos along the river where we saw a large male crocodile basking in the sun on a sandbank in the middle of the river – we watched him for a while and then he slid into the water and glided away.
We continued our search for the elusive rhino and eventually, we spotted them in amongst some trees and rocks, a fair distance of the track – they looked just like big rocks until we got closer. There was a male, a female and a baby White Rhino and we sat with the motor off, watching them while they grazed. We were also fascinated by the Red Billed Oxpeckers who were actually sitting on the face of the mother rhinoceros, eating the insects off her face.
After watching them for a while, Allan suggested that we could continue to look for animals even although it was time to get back for our late breakfast – of course we agreed to this! We met up with our other Tinga Lodge groups near the river as they had spotted a large pod of hippopotamus in the water. We had a cuppa and a snack with them while Allan and one of the other trackers headed off to check the area. By this time is was well after 9.00am and we had been out for three hours, so the men were easily able to “spend a penny” and the two other ladies in our group, Clare and Jan, and Sandy decided that they needed to do likewise so they found a bush nearby.
Allan and the other driver arrived back and announced that we were going to WALK down to the river, in single file, with Allan and one of the other drivers at the front, both with rifles and a tracker at the back. We were told we had be to be extremely quiet as there were s few elephants on our side of the river and also that they needed to be able to hear any lions.
We made our way to the river through long dried grass, small shrubs and trees and found the pod of hippos on the other side of the river. There was a dominant male, several females and a few babies. We watched them for a while and then made our way back to our vehicles and drove further along the track beside the river, when we spotted a breeding herd of elephants on the other side of the river. Allan drove the 4WD down through the bush to the edge of the river along with another of our vehicles and we were all delighted when they all walked down into the river, crossed over to our side and then walked right past the front of our vehicles, disappearing into the bush. There were 5 females and 3 or 4 calves and we got some awesome photos!
Our adventure hadn’t ended yet and we headed off to follow some Black Rhino tracks to see if we could track it down to no avail. We found a big Male Elephant that made threatening gestures and came fairly close to our vehicle – Allan later told us he was not concerned as there was a small ditch between us that would have slowed the elephant if it really been serious about harming us. We got some amazing close up photos.
One of Allan’s associated radioed him to tell him that a lion had been seen in a particular area but had gone bush, so we headed off to find him. After a while, we found him and went off-track again to get closer to him. While we were stopped, he walked around the vehicle, eyeing us off and was less than a metre away from us and then he walked backwards and forwards sniffing at the grass. When he headed into the bush, Allan drove back out and onto the track and explained that this Lion would have been trying to find his brother and they must have gotten separated. As we headed off, we saw the lion’s brother heading back towards him, so we went back to see the two of them greeting each other by nuzzling each other’s faces.
After an awesome morning game drive, we arrived back at Tinga Lodge at 10.15am for a very late scrumptious breakfast in the open dining room. While we were having our breakfast, a couple of bush monkeys came onto the verandah and were trying to steal food but were being chased away by the staff. However, one cheeky monkey managed to quickly jump onto the table next to us and steal a muffin out of the basket before anyone had a chance to stop him – lots of squeals and laughter! A vote was taken and it was decided to skip lunch, making our next meal High Tea at 3.30pm.
We returned to our lovely room at 11.00am and spent the rest of the time relaxing and catching up with our blog as well as sorting through our awesome photos!
While sitting on the lounge, sorting out our photos, we saw a whole herd of elephants walking between our room and the river about 20 metres away!! We quickly grabbed the camera and went out on the deck to take photos. One of them stopped to eat some of the tree that was just outside our fence.
Awesome!
At 3.30pm, we joined the others for High Tea and then headed out on our last Game Drive here at Sabi Sands. Our driver, Allan, advised us that Wantit would be our tracker for this afternoon. We headed off to try and find the Black Rhino that had been reported to be in a specific area, but despite searching for quite a long while, we didn’t get to see this endangered animal or the Buffalo that we tried to find. However, we did see some male Nyalas, Kudus, a Black Breasted Eagle, a Yellow Billed Hornbill and a Male Giraffe. We stopped down by the Sabie River for our last Sundowners here – the colours of the river were beautiful.
At approximately 7.15pm, Allan took us to the Boma area, where we had a lovely African three-course outdoor bush dinner, which was set in natural surroundings. The staff went to a lot of trouble to set up the area – they had tables in a large semi-circle so that each of our 4WD groups and our driver could eat dinner together and the whole area was set up with lanterns, all under the African night sky, a unique taste of Africa.
Our stay at Tinga Lodge at Sabi Sands has been a unique and awesome experience that we will treasure.

Friday 3 October Kruger National Park to Johannesburg
This morning, as there was a slight delay in the arrival of the 4WD to pick up our luggage, our driver took us on a quick trip through one area of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in the hope that we may see a leopard in the daylight. We saw lots of Nyala, Kudu and some little Grey Daika, but no leopards. We were not disappointed as we have seen so many animals at Sabi Sand and leave there with many special memories. He took us to the transfer area where our luggage was loaded onto our bus and we set off just after 7.00am.
We travelled on the Panorama Route, which starts at Graskop and includes “God’s Window”, the Pinnacle, Blyde River Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The Blyde River Canyon, which is 30 kilometres in length, consists mostly of red sandstone and is approximately 1383 metres deep.
Blyde River Canyon is the third largest in the world and is said to be the largest “Green Canyon” because of its lush subtropical foliage. It has some of the deepest precipitous cliffs of any canyon and is the second largest in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent.
Unfortunately, we were not able to stop at “God’s Window” to see the spectacular views over Blyde River Canyon because the lookout was shrouded in mist. However, we did still get to see the Canyon later on.
We continued on to Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where centuries of water flowing through the landscape has carved out a dramatic and intricate series of natural rock formations and inter-connected pools. The potholes occur when the Treur River joins the Blyde River at the start of the Blyde River Canyon and the force of the water in these two rivers, together with the particles of sand and rock, wears cylindrical potholes into the sandstone bedrock. We were impressed with this amazing sight as we walked down a path and over some bridges spanning the deep gorges where we were able to get some great photographs, although they wont do it justice as it was overcast and the day was quite dull.
We then drive on to a lookout over the “Three Rondavels”, the deep Blyde River Canyon and the Blyde River. The Three Rondavels are huge natural round rock spirals that rise 700 metres out of the canyon wall. They are thought to be reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous people, known as rondavels. From the lookout the views over part of the Canyon were amazing, but once again, because of the overcast weather, the photos are not vibrant.
We stopped for lunch at Dullstroom and just as we were leaving there, it started to rain quite heavily, which made the journey to Johannesburg a bit slower. We drove through a town called Belfast, which harvests 60 million tulip bulbs and sends them to Holland – interesting!!
Today, we drove through Forestry Pine Plantations, banana and fruit groves and farming communities.
We arrived at Johannesburg at 6. 45pm, having left Sabi Sands at 7.00am.
We checked into our hotel, The D’Oreale Grande, which has Emperors Palace Casino attached to it. We brought our hand luggage up to our room and then went for a wander to the Casino complex, which not only has a Casino, but has a huge Food Court area, with lots of different restaurants and entertainment. The complex also has shops, a big children’s area and even a theatre complex. After wandering around for a while, we decided to go back to our room and just have a light dinner and do our blog and photos.

Wednesday 1 October Swaziland to Kruger National Park

We left the hotel at 8.30am and drove through the Ezulwini Valley in northwest Swaziland. It is also known as “The Valley of Heaven” and is 30 kilometres long and quite picturesque. We had come into Swaziland in the dark last night, so we didn’t get to see much. We drove up through the mountains on some winding roads with great views out over the countryside and we passed through timber forests. We saw the Maguga Dam and the Nkomazi River and, after we passed through Piggs Peak, we crossed the Mulamati River.
After two hours of driving, we arrived at the Jeppes Reef border gate and all got off the bus to go in and present our passports to exit Swaziland. We walked across the border and went into the Matsamo Centre for re-entry to South Africa and then all got back on the bus and headed off – the process took about half an hour.
Not long after we went through the border, we passed over the Ingugwane River and also saw some big roadside markets at the centre where people were collecting their monthly pension/grant and then we stopped at Malelane for lunch at a shopping centre. On our travesl today, we saw sugar cane, citrus groves, banana plantations as well as some spectacular scenery.
Our bus arrived at the Malelane Gate into Kruger National Park at about 1.00pm and then drove along a sealed road for approximately 1.5 hours to where our 4WD vehicles would be waiting to take us to our Lodges. Along the way, we saw Crocodile River, where there were hippopotamus, crocodiles and elephants in the water. Further along, there was a giraffe standing in the middle of the road – only in Africa!!
As we continued our drive, we saw Waterbuck (a type of antelope, which have big white circles on their bums), Kudu (another type of antelope), lots of Impala and Sandy called out when she spotted some Elephants so that we could stop and take photos.
When we arrived at the 4WD pick up point, we were told that we were splitting into two groups as the lodges were not big enough to hold us all but we would get back together again for dinner tomorrow night and we would see each other around the park when we were out on our game drives. There are 16 of us staying at Tinga Lodge and the other 11 and Delia are staying at Narina Lodge.
We were loaded on to our 4WDs and our luggage was loaded onto separate 4WDs and we were taken the short distance on dirt roads to our Lodges. We were met at the door to the Main Lodge building by the staff, with refreshing towels and drinks. Once we were all there, Glenda, the manager, gave us a briefing about the game drive times, wake up calls, meals etc and then we were taken to our rooms.
We are not sure that we can adequately describe how awesome this place is!! Our “room”, measuring 16 metres long by 6 metres wide, consists of a lounge area with a 3 seater lounge and a large armchair, a 3 metre long writing desk, a huge coffee table, a cupboard that is filled with complimentary drinks & nibbles and the biggest bed that we have ever seen that has mosquito net s draped around it. The bathroom area is 7 metres long by 6 metres wide and consist of a huge bath, double vanity units, a circular shower that is 2 metres in diameter. The whole length of the lounge, bedroom, bathroom has floor to ceiling windows overlooking our large deck and splash pool, with pool lounges and a table and chairs, all overlooking the Sabie River and over to the other side to some of the Kruger National Park. Each room/cabin is self-contained and is a fair distance from any other building and constructed in such a way that each has total privacy, although it did feel strange having a shower with an unrestricted view of the bush and the River.
We were surprised and delighted that on the middle of our bed, there was a “Welcome to Tinga Lodge Richard and Sandra” message made from leaves and flower petals.
Immediately after being given an explanatory welcome to our room and its facilities, we had High Tea on the deck of the Main Lodge. We had fruit kebabs, strips of crumbed chicken, little sandwiches and cup cakes, as well as fruit juice and tea/coffee.
At 4.00pm, with two other couples, our driver, Allan and our Tracker, Omega, we headed off for our first game drive at Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, which is adjacent to the Kruger National Park.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometres and is located in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumualanga in the north-east of South Africa. The park became South Africa’s first national park in 1926 and has nine main gates that allow entrance to the different camps.
The Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve covers 65,000 hectares. It is situated near to the Kruger Gate and shares a common 50km unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, giving animals the ability to pass unhindered between the reserves. Sabi Sand is the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism in southern Africa, and is the oldest of all the private reserves in South Africa. It has only ever been a wilderness area and is home to a vast wildlife population, which includes “The Big Five”, besides a number of endangered species too.
On our drive, we saw Nyala, Kudu, Impala, Giraffe, Baboons, the largest Owl we had ever seen, and then Omega saw some Leopard prints, so we followed them. We found a tree that she had taken an Impala that she had killed and lodged it in a fork high in the tree, but she wasn’t there at the time. We searched through the surrounding bushes and undergrowth in our 4WD, but we still couldn’t see her, so we left the area in the hope that she would come back when it was quiet.
We travelled out of the area, found a clearing and had our Sundowners – beer, wine, soft drink and nibblies, while we chatted excitedly to Allan and Omega about the leopard and the Big Five while we watched the sun go down.
We returned to the tree that we had found the remains of the Impala, using a spotlight to search the trees and undergrowth along the way, and Voila! there she was in the tree eating the Impala. It was very difficult to get a clear photo of her through the surrounding trees and shrubs as she kept hiding behind the main trunk of the tree. Allan moved the 4WD and drove through the bush, pushing over some bushes along the way, to the other side of the tree to try and get a better view. After a while, we left so that our fellow travellers in the other two vehicles could come down to the small are that we were in to get a chance to see the leopard without unnecessarily stressing her by having too many people and spotlights.
We returned to the lodge to have a magnificent three-course dinner on the deck, which was illuminated by lanterns – very nice! After our meal, we were escorted to our room along a boardwalk as there are no real fences here to keep out the animals. The same rules apply here as in Thanda – you do move around at night without an escort. Our room had been prepared for us with the mosquito net sides pulled down, our bed turned down and a message on the blackboard from our housekeeping staff.
This afternoon has been another really memorable event in our African adventure – we have now seen the Big Five: Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Lion and Leopard!!!

Port Elizabeth to Zululand and Thanda Tented Safari Camp

Sunday 28 September Port Elizabeth to Zululand and Thanda Tented Safari Camp
After Breakfast, we went for a wander around the Boardwalk Hotel grounds and checked out the lovely gardens and the views.
Nando drove us to the airport and we said our goodbyes to him before catching our 11.05am South African Airways flight from Port Elizabeth to Durban. The flight was on a Canadian Regional Jet CJR200, which carried only 50 passengers. We had a smooth flight of an hour and a quarter and were given a snack box, containing a small packet of chips, a small packet of nuts, a small packet of dried fruit and a drink for “lunch”.
When we arrived in Durban, our new driver, Sam, picked us up and we drove for two and a half hours to the Thanda Tented Safari Camp, through Zululand, one of South Africa’s nine provinces. The area is known for its beautiful savanna-covered hills and stunning views and is home to the WWF Black Rhinoceros Reintroduction Project.
Thanda, meaning ‘love’ in Zulu, is said to be an expression of the magical union of powerful Zulu culture, wildlife, romantic decadence and exclusivity and the Thanda Tented Safari Camp is set in one of the country’s most diverse conservation reserves. The bus took us off the main highway, along a gravel track to the property gate, where we were transferred to three open four-wheel drive vehicles for our first three-hour African game drive. Our luggage was taken directly to the campsite and our tents.
Each of the three 4WDs headed off in different directions but stayed in contact with each other via walkie talkies. Within a short time of our driver Effram heading off, our spotter, Ronnie, who was sitting on a seat on the front of the vehicle, found a Hyena and then a White Rhino and her baby, who is 2 months and was having a feed from its mum. We saw lots of Nyala (a type of antelope) and lots of Impala but we did not get many photos of them as they ran off as soon as they heard the vehicle.
Our next treat was when we found some Giraffes, including a baby Giraffe and then we found a female Jackal.
Further on in our drive, Effram drove around a corner and there beside the road, right next to our vehicle, were two male Lions, who are not related but occasionally fight over the territory. Effram quickly reversed the vehicle back around the corner and up the hill so that Ronnie could get off the front so that he wouldn’t be the Lions’ dinner. He then drove us back around the corner so that we could take photos and watch the Lions up close – approximately 4 metres away. He explained to us that the lions don’t see us as food as we are in one large vehicle. One of the lions started to walk off up the track making an incredibly loud guttural roaring noise that surprised us all with its volume and depth of sound. We could also see some vapour/gases coming out of his mouth when he roared. Then the other Lion got up and starting following it at a distance. We followed the Lions for a while until they left the track and then we headed down into an old dried up watering hole and had Sundowner Drinks and nibblies that Effram and Ronnie served to us from the tailgate of the 4WD.
After an enjoyable drink and chat, we continued on our way in the dark with Ronnie using a spotlight to try and locate some more animals, but with no luck. As we made our way to the campsite, it started to rain, but we were so delighted with our first Game Drive in Africa and with the animals that we had seen that no-one cared about the rain.
We were taken in groups from the vehicles to the dining room by porters with lights. Thanda Tented Safari Camp only has a minimum of lighting, provided by solar power and a generator that is used from 5.00am until 10.00pm. Around the campsite there are oil lanterns on poles, so it was quite dark. We enjoyed a lovely African three-course dinner before being individually escorted by a porter to our tent, No 7. Our tent is on a timber platform and comprises of two segments: the main area is a canvas octagon about 8 metres across and the bathroom is a canvas square approximately 4 metres across. The main area has a king size bed and was lit by 4 candles and one upright torch. There is a light (fairly dim) in the bathroom, which only works when the generator is running. Our porter showed us where everything is, including a gas powered mini fridge and he showed us how to use our own gas powered hot water system for our bath. The porter also showed us how to use the walkie talkie which is in our room because there are no phones and they have a policy that “if you can’t see you cant walk” and if you need to go somewhere in the dark, or need something, then you contact the porters by walkie talkie and they are on duty overnight.
It felt very unusual to be settling into our tent and getting ready for bed in very dim light with nobody else around (all the tents are set out quite a distance from each other amongst the trees) and it was pitch black outside and very quiet. We needed a torch to open the combination locks on our suitcases and to find our PJs.
What an exciting adventure and wonderful beginning to our first African Safari!!

Monday 29 September Thanda Private Game Reserve
After a good night’s sleep, we woke at 4.45am to the sound of heavy rain. At 5.00am one of the porters arrived at our door to give us our wake up call. At 5.30am, we set of on an invigorating early morning game drive through Thanda’s Private Game Reserve, which has 14,000 hectares of land. The rain had stopped but we put on the ponchos that were provided for us, just in case.
We searched for Africa’s elusive Big Five – elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard. They are described as the Big Five because they are the most dangerous of Africa’s wild animals.
We spent the first hour driving around through various tracks but the only animals we saw were Impala and they rushed off into the bush as we approached. Eventually, we came across some Hyenas and a Wildebeest and then we came across the two male lions again, this time at least 5 kilometres away from where we saw them last night. Again, we were able to drive right up next to them to take lots of photos.
Effram drove us up to a clearing on the crossroads of two tracks and stopped the vehicle for us to have a cup of tea/coffee and some biscuits because at that stage we hadn’t had breakfast. We enjoyed a chat before heading off to find more animals. Not far away we found some Zebras and one of them had a little baby who was feeding from her – fantastic!
As we were heading back in the general direction of our Camp, we came across two beautiful cheetahs. We were told they are brothers and we were delighted to see them grooming each other by licking each others’ face and head. We watched them for a while, taking photos and marveling at how graceful they are as they moved around and sat up on a mound. Cheetahs can be recognized from a leopard by the “tear-stain” marks on their face.
We also saw some crested guinea fowl and several other birds.
We returned to the camp shortly after 9.00am and went straight into the tented dining area for breakfast. It was interesting to finally get to see the camp and our tent in the daylight. We have a lovely view out over the bushveld from our deck and we discovered that we have an outdoor shower area that is private but maybe a little cool to use at this stage. As well as the dining area and lounge/bar, the camp has a small gift shop, an outdoor boma and a swimming pool.
At 11.00am, we were entertained in the lounge/bar by a colourful group of Zulu women who sang and danced for us – most enjoyable.
After a light high tea at 2.30, we returned to our tent to catch up with our blog and sort photos ready to post when we get internet coverage at our next hotel, before returning to our vehicle for our afternoon three-hour game drive.
At 4.00pm, with threatening skies, we put on ponchos provided by Thanda and headed off for our 3 hour afternoon game drive. As we hadn’t had much rain during the day, the tracks had a chance to dry out a bit so we didn’t do as much slipping and sliding as we did this morning.
We saw lots of Nyala and Impala, both of which are types of antelope and then several Giraffes. As we travelled further, we came across a herd of buffalo that were crossing our track – we saw males with big horns, females and some young calves. It was awesome to be so close to them and they were not at all bothered by our large 4WD with 10 eager tourists, a driver and a spotter. The buffalo are considered one of the most dangerous animals as they are unpredictable and give no warning that they are going to attack.
By this stage, although we couldn’t actually see the sun, the light was disappearing fast, so we stopped for our Sundownder drinks and nibblies and a chat. It was good to stretch our legs as we had travelled a fair distance on some bumpy tracks and had been dodging thorn bushes that were encroaching on the seldom-used tracks. Occasionally, we went totally bush and pushed our own way through some of the shrubs in search of the elusive Big 5.
By the time we had finished our Sundowners, it was dark and we headed back towards our Camp with our spotter, Ronnie, using a spotlight to check either side of our track for animals. The beam caught sight of a female lion lying semi-concealed among some long brown grass. Without the expert eyes of our spotter, she would have gone unnoticed, so we were very lucky. After cautiously taking some photos, we headed back to the campsite for a lovely three course “BBQ/Braai” that was served in the dining room and not in the Boma area as planned as it was by then raining lightly and we could hear thunder.
We were in bed by 9.30pm, after having had a wonderful day of animal spotting and marveling at the beautiful Zululand mountains and plains.

Tuesday 30 September Zululand to Swaziland
This morning we were up bright and early again as we were treated to an extra game drive for those who wished to take this opportunity. There were only 10 of us so we climbed into 2 vehicles, again with ponchos to ward off the possible rain. It had poured with rain overnight and we were woken by loud claps of thunder and bright flashes of lightning at 2.00am.
Effram told us that this morning we were off to find elephants! We headed off to a different section of the park and as we climbed up onto a ridge, we could see back to the Thanda Tented Camp site with each of the tents nested into the bush. As we drove up one of the better tracks, there in the middle of the road, were two male lions! Effram explained to us that they were on this better, drier track because they would not want to lie in the wet grass. We watched them for a while and took lots of photos and then, when our driver tried to drive around them, they got up, gave us a filthy look and strolled over to the grass at the side of the road, where they settled.
We continued our hunt for the elusive elephants – we could not believe that an animal that is so big could possibly hide from us. Eventually, Ronnie, called out to say that he could see two lots of huge elephant prints and worked out what direction they were heading in and we followed after them. We came across two elephants – an older large male and a “teenage” male and Effram told us that they are together, away from the herd, so that the older male can teach the younger male all about being a good elephant. We watched the teenager, who was about 20 years old, for some time as he grazed from the trees and shrubs. The older male wandered off and soon disappeared in the shrubbery – it was then that we could see how easy it is for them to camouflage themselves and be so hard to find.
We finally tore ourselves away from the elephant and headed to an area where we found lots of Zebras and Giraffes. On our way back to camp, we also found some Kuzu, another type of antelope.
After breakfast, our bags were collected from our tent and we were taken via our 4WD back to Thanda’s Main Gate, where we boarded our bus for today’s travel and adventures.
Although we were only at Thanda for a short time, we managed to get in 4 game drives, totalling 11 hours and saw 4 of the Big 5!! We thoroughly enjoyed this amazing experience and would have loved to stay longer.
Our adventure started much sooner than we had expected because about 1 kilometre from the main road, while still on a dirt road, the bus slewed slowly sideways when going up a slippery hill and became bogged in the muddy edge – this all happened very slowly and we were in no danger. Delia, our tour director phoned Thanda, who sent a tractor, which took one hour and 20 minutes to reach us and then it pulled the bus back on to solid ground and waited until the bus had reached the top of the incline to make sure we were ok. Everyone had been asked to walk up the muddy, slippery hill carefully to reduce the weight in the bus. Good humoured, everyone cheered when the bus arrived at the top of the hill to pick us up.
We headed off towards Swaziland and then the next part of our adventure began – the bus was having mechanical issues, so we stopped at a Service Station with restrooms and a Wimpy Burger restaurant attached so that Sam, the driver could have a look at the problem. It was decided to arrange a mechanic to come and see if he could fix it but at the same time they arranged a replacement bus to be dispatched immediately from Durban. The bus arrived before the mechanic at 4.00pm so our luggage was transferred and we continued our trip on the new bus with a new driver, Shuran.
The scenery on the way to Swaziland was quite different – much greener and we passed a fairly large dam the Jozini Dam, with Ghost Mountain in the background. We drove through the Phongola Nature Reserve and arrived at the South African side of the border, Golela Border Control, an hour later, We had to physically go in and have our passports checked and stamped as exiting South Africa. We then walked across the border and into Swaziland Immigration, Lavumisa Border Crossing and again had our passports checked and stamped. We then got back on the bus and headed to our accommodation
Swaziland ids a Kingdom and it is a small landlocked country in southern Africa that is bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa and to the east by Mozambique.
We finally arrived at the Royal Swazi Spa Hotel at about 20 to 8 and went straight in to dinner. We had a quick bite to eat and came back to our room to get organised for tomorrow, as we are both very tired.
Because of the issues with our bus, we were not able to visit the Swazi Candle Factory or the Ngwenya Glass Factory, which were planned for today.
Today has been one of those days that happens from time to time when travelling and we were impressed with our Tour Director, who organised the bus to leave Durban straight away and also with the rest of the tour group, who were quite good natured about the whole thing. Some of them spent the afternoon playing cards and others bought a jigsaw puzzle that they all sit and worked on.
As we have been up since 4.30am, we are going to head off to bed as soon as we can and dream about our animal sightings in Thanda and the ones we hope to see tomorrow afternoon at Kruger National Park.
Once again we will be without internet coverage for at least two nights.