Day 21 & 22
These two days were comprised, primarily, of driving. We were making our way from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg (or Jo’burg, as it’s called here). The big group mostly stayed behind, though we were joined by a few folks from the tour and a couple of new faces. We drove from morning until evening both days, stopping for meals and bathroom breaks. The highlight was an elephant that we passed on the first morning. We stayed at a nice camp site on evening one and had a small bonfire. On the second evening, we stayed at the Nomad Tours headquarters in Jo’burg, which was quite nice, with a pool and sprawling lawn and a restaurant where we all share dinner. We had woken at 4:30 a.m. on the second day and were quite wiped and relieved to have a cozy room to sleep in.
Today marked the start of part three of the tour, where we will do a loop from Jo’burg to Kruger national park for three nights and then return. We have a group of seven with us, including two from the original trip. It’s much quieter and the bus is very spacious. It feels more relaxed but we miss our “family” from part one (though we have the same guides). We drove most of the day, stopping for food and washroom breaks. We arrived in Kruger park around four and set up our tents. We will stay at the same camp all three nights and it is nice not having to pitch and tear down tents daily. The camp is quiet nice, with a cozy reception/bar area and a large pool with lounge chairs. In the evening, we did a game drive, spotting lots of animals (elephants, hippos, zebras, giraffes and the ubiquitous antelope). We stopped for a cloudy sunset at a beautiful lookout pint, and were provided with locals drinks (amarula- made from a local tree- and a port wine) and snacks. We returned to camp for a buffet dinner with venison stew and local game sausage (where I definitely overate). There was a Swazi group that came and did a traditional dance for us and then pulled us up to participate. I was wiped by the time we got back to the tents, and fell asleep listening to lions roaring in the distance. ❤
Today was a full day of game driving. In addition to the animals from yesterday, we saw a pride of lions, a buffalo and a rhino. Some of the other groups were lucky enough to view the elusive leopard and cheetah, but not us, sadly. Still, we saw plenty of animals and birds. We got back to the camp around 4 and spent a couple of hours lounging by the pool before having dinner and enjoying a campfire together.
Finally, we got to stretch our legs a little today. The tour has been amazing but could have has a little more exercise incorporated to compensate for the long car rides. We drove along what’s known as the Panoramic Route, which is really scenic, passing mountains and valleys, farms and vineyards. We stopped at blade river canyon, the second largest canyon in Africa, with three rondavelle formations, a large lake at the bottom and stunning vistas. We stopped at the kolk gate potholes, which reminded me a bit of Sioux Falls, with the deep red earth and small cascading waterfalls. There were deep pothole formations in the water from the confluence of three rivers in this spot. The pressure creates a cyclone movement in the water which firms the potholes in the rock over time. Finally, we stopped at God’s Window look out point for lunch and a small hike. This spot is featured in the movie, The Gods must be Crazy. We then made our way back to the camp, where we had some pool time and dinner, as well as drinks around the campfire. And, because it was our last night (and to celebrate Jasper becoming a new uncle!) we went down to the bar for some last drinks with our new friends.
It’s hard to believe that we have made it to the final day of our trip. It was a great start to the day, with a two hour guided bushwalk. We saw eight buffalo up close and explored some of the smaller signs of life, tracks and flora of the park. It was nice to move around as we have a long drive ahead of us. We had a last breakfast and tore down the tents and hit the road. We are now a few hours into our journey back to Jo’burg, where we will take a shuttle to our Airbnb for the next three nights and then our tour will officially be over. Overall, I’m really happy that we chose to do this trip. We have seen so many amazing landscapes, encountered such fascinating tribes and viewed a myriad of beautiful and exotic animals that I have never seen before. I’m happy that we were able to see the rhinos before they become extinct and witness the bushmen before their way of life is entirely wiped out. The world is so extraordinary and the more I see, the more I want to explore. I am tired and every piece of clothing I have here is filthy, but I am beyond grateful for every sunrise, starry night and everything in between. ❤