The journey between Magoebaskloof and Kruger National Park took us from the Drakensburg Mountains to the Kruger plains, where we arrived at our accommodation, Hoyo Hoyo Lodge, for lunch. Hoyo Hoyo, meaning welcome in the local dialect, is about 1 ½ hours south west inside the Orpen Gate in Kruger. All vehicles have to travel at 50km/h in the park and this is quite strictly patrolled by police. They also patrol for people leaving their vehicles and will literally expel people who do so. Regardless we still saw some crazy people who got out of their car to get a better view of some elephants in a waterhole. Do you people have a death wish? !!
After lunch we met our game driver - Suiteboy - said Sweet Boy. We told him Rhino's were at the top of our list, so we spent most of our time in pursuit of them. Unfortunately we were not successful on this drive but we did see a tiny bush baby monkey flitting through the scrub and the regular sort of things: big elephants, Zebra. Giraffe, etc.
The next morning we did an early morning game drive at 5:30am and found a white Rhino and her baby. Suiteboy was asked how many Rhino are in the park but he said he was not allowed to say because they don't want poachers to discover this information. Poachers are quite a problem in Kruger too. When another guest was viewing a Rhino a Kruger patrol helicopter came by to check out what was happening with the Rhino's. This sounds all very well but even the patrol people are implicated in the poaching sometimes, as well as National Parks Vets, and Lodge drivers/guides. There was a Rhino skull in the area where the Rhino's live, which had been poached a couple of years beforehand. The actual poachers are often ex military from Mozambique and highly skilled in bush survival, as they stalk the Rhino's on foot. There is often a shoot out if someone discovers them and people regularly die in this war. The patrols shoot them on site if they discover them.
Impala was on the menu for dinner, which just reinforces the idea that everyone eats them.
We had a longish break until the afternoon game drive, so I booked in for a head massage and then washed my hair in the outdoor shower at our room. Many of the rooms/luxury tents we have stayed in have had an outdoor shower. This outdoor shower often had bamboo style (it wasn't bamboo but a bit like that) fencing which provided some, but not complete privacy. If someone had chosen to walk by and look through this would have been easily done. The outdoor shower at Hoyo Hoyo had the additional factor of having no barrier against the wild animals and an incomplete wall around it. As a consequence if an animal, say for example, a cheetah or leopard or lion had chosen to join you in the shower, this was quite possible. This is "extreme showering". I did experience a visit, but only from the bushbuck that hangs around the area. Bushbuck are a bit Bambi like. You could say Bambi visited me while I showered, but scampered off when it saw me. I can't blame it, I'd scamper off if I saw me showering too. This morning Kevin went to shower and he couldn't find the soap. He spied it on the ground about 2 meters from the shower and after a nudi run to retrieve it, saw that it had bite marks in it! A baboon or squirrel must have come by and thought it was some form of food. Not only is there the adrenaline pumping thought of death by predator while showering, but there is the added considerations of the elements. It was a bit windy as I showered. I've never had to contend with wind in the shower before. The hot water was plentiful but I couldn't shower too long because the midday sun was shining on me and it would never do to get sunburnt in the shower.
Our last game drive was very pleasant. Suiteboy stopped the vehicle and got out and proceeded to pick up a piece of Elephant poo and piece of Rhino poo very ernestly... Where is this going we all thought? Suiteboy has an ironic sort of name...he's more of a Direct-and-to -
the-Point sorta Boy. So commenced our lesson in animal poo. Here's a shortened version:
Dung = Elephant - big, fibrous and reddish.
Rhino poo - dark, less fibre and in middens.
Droppings = pellets - antelope
Poop = cats, hyena
Shit = Baboons and Monkeys. Their "stinky bedroom" trees smell like a human toilet because their diet is similar to ours.
I'd like to say I saw Suiteboy wash his hands before mixing our gin and tonics but can't be sure...
Our last night in Africa was spent at Hoyo Hoyo. The staff put on an African song and dance routine. As there were very few guests at the Lodge I think all the staff were roped into the routine, including Chef Goodness (yes, her real name) and Wonder Boy (yes his real name...he introduced himself on the first day as our BoyWonder). They all carried weird and wonderful implements: Wonder Boy wore the wooden carving that hung on the wall, that was the shape of a pregnant woman's torso (front side), TK the manager had an orange umbrella, BigBoy had the hand drum and Goodness had a soup ladle. They were all outfitted in orange material with a Zulu African pattern. The beat and the singing was infectious...to the point that a few of us joined in... very enthusiastically you could say...
I write this as we rocket along the toll road on the way to Jo'burg. As I glance across the speedo sits on 130km and the freedom of an unpatrolled highway stretches ahead of us. We've been on the road since 9am and it is now 4pm. We'll be at the airport in an hour and preparing to leave Africa.
This has been a wonderful holiday. Stephan has been great as have all my traveling companions. I don't know about them, but I thought we traveled very well together and that I'd like to do it all again.Read more