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  • It was another early morning today as we had to be up at 5:00 am to get to the airport to fly to Durban. The check in process went smoothly and after we went through security the first thing we saw was Iron Maiden's 747 "Book of Souls Tour" plane parked on the tarmac. Apparently they are playing two dates in Cape Town over the next week.

    I must add that security when flying domestic in South Africa is very different than what we are used to. There is no liquid limits nor do you have to take your shoes off. The no liquid limit was great as I was able to bring two bottles of wine with me in my carry on bag!

    The flight was a short two hours, which was much nicer than the two ten hour flights to get here! Once we arrived in Durban we boarded the coach and headed for the Hluhluwe Imfolozi area. We drove directly to the St . Lucia estuary where we boarded a flat bottomed boat for a river game cruise. This was our first chance at animal viewing since we landed in South Africa.

    It was about 3:00 pm when we boarded the river boat and we travelled up river in search of hippos and crocodiles. We did not have to go far before we spotted our first hippo. Hippos are nocturnal animals and as it was late afternoon they were just starting to get a bit active. We were able to view several dozen hippos along the river including two young males posturing for attention and several baby hippos playing near the shoreline. We were also able to hear several of the hippos making their distinctive laughing sounds, which always brings a smile to my face. We only saw two crocodiles and even then neither were very clearly visible.

    There are many fires burning in the area as the farmers are burning the remnants after clear cutting areas of eucalyptus trees. They burn the remaining stumps before planting new trees to clear the soil of possible diseases and to ready it for the next planting. Eucalyptus is used for building beams and making paper and their other forestry species is pine which is used for furniture building. This area has thousands of acres of forestry and is very scenic. An offshoot of the burning is that there is a lot of smoke in the sky's which gave way to some stunning backdrops over the river and a spectacular sunset where the sun was burning red.

    We finished the river safari and made our way to the hotel for the evening in the Imfolozi valley. The hotel was pretty much in the middle of nowhere so we had dinner in the dining room and then retired early as we have another early start tomorrow.
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  • It was another 5:00 am morning this morning so that we could get to the game reserve early for our first game drive of the trip. The game reserve was about 50 minutes from our hotel and after a short delay waiting for some folks to find their passports we were off.

    On arrival at the game reserve we separated into groups of 9 or so and took our places in the open aired vehicles. I was fortunate enough to get the passenger seat next to the ranger/driver while Claude was a row back on the other side and about a foot higher than my seat. Thus gave us excellent views although I think everyone had very good views. Our driver Jerome, was hilarious and he quickly named me his spotting assistant.

    The very first animal we spotted was a lone female lion, although there were likely others nearby. Next were a herd of elephants drinking and eating vegetation at a watering hole. After that we came upon three young Cape buffalo butting heads and horns on the roadway and then more elephants and more elephants. After tiring of seeing so many elephants we went in search of more lions but we only found a young male that was gaunt and unhealthy looking. He had likely been injured and thus had difficulty catching any prey. We carried on looking for white rhinos and after a bit of time and driving spotted some in the distance and then traveled on a little further to find some a bit closer. And closer we did! We rounded a corner to find two rhinos standing in the middle of the road right in front of us! We stopped the vehicle and turned off the engine and watched as they stared at us and sauntered closer. Before they finally turned off into the brush they had gotten within about twelve feet of the front of the vehicle! We left the rhinos and then drive to the top of a pretty high hill to get a view of the surrounding terrain. The vistas were beautiful and we were able to get out and stretch our legs. After the brief break we continued down the other side of the hill where I spotted a giraffe off in the distance. We drove to get a better vantage point and found a family of four to six giraffes including a baby giraffe.

    By now the time for our Safari has come to and end so we headed back to the entrance to meet up with the others and to share our stories of sightings. We also came back to some bad news and that was that our good friends and travelling companions, David and Priscilla, were leaving the tour to get medical help for David. He had been feeling under the weather since the beginning of the tour and unfortunately instead of getting better, he was getting worse. He did not go on the safari and instead saw a doctor and it was recommended that he be admitted to the local hospital for rest and attention. We are so sad to say goodbye but we know it was the right decision and our hope is that they will be able to rejoin us in a few days time.

    After giving our love and best wishes to David and Priscilla we reboarded the coach to make our way into Swaziland. Crossing the border required us to leave the coach and get an exit stamp on the South African side, walk across the border and then get an entry stamp on the Swaziland side. We then got back on the coach and stayed our journey into Africa's smallest country.
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  • Hallo Swaziland!
    Vom Krüger Nationalpark aus sind wir nach Swaziland gefahren, da viele Leute davon berichtet haben und es „auf dem Weg“ lag.
    Swaziland ist noch deutlich ursprünglicher und unverbrauchter und die Menschen sehr, sehr freundlich! Sobald wir an Kindern vorbeigefahren sind, konnten sie sich kaum halten und haben gewunken und sich gefreut.
    Übernachtet haben wir im „Hawane Resort“. Da wir aber die Backpacker-Unterkunft gewählt hatten, ging es vorbei am Resort – mit Pool und Spa – und……zum Pferdestall. Unsere Unterkunft war ein umgebauter Pferdestall, die Zimmer die ehemaligen Pferdeboxen. Schlafen konnte man, wo man wollte und wenn es reinregnet, sollte man einfach die Box wechseln B-)
    Eine tolle Idee, aber in der Umsetzung etwas einfach, da es vor allem nachts echt kalt wurde und wir etliche Schichten zum Schlafen anziehen mussten. Aber für 8€ die Nacht kann man nichts sagen…
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  • Unsere Unterkunft haben wir uns ausgesucht, weil in der Nähe das „Malolotja Nature Reserve“ liegt, eine tolle Gegend zum Wandern!
    Also begeben wir uns heute auf eine 3h-Wanderung. Wunderschöne Natur, bestes Wetter und tolle Aussicht!

  • Irgendwo in Swaziland knacken wir die 2.000-gefahrene-Kilometer-Grenze!
    Ein guter Zeitpunkt, um von den interessanten Autobahnen in Swaziland und Südafrika zu berichten.
    Höchstgeschwindigkeit sind immerhin 120 km/h, was aber niemanden davon abhält…
    …Bushaltestellen direkt an die Autobahn zu bauen
    …Kühe direkt an der Autobahn grasen zu lassen, natürlich ohne Zaun
    …Verkaufsstände direkt an der Autobahn aufzustellen
    …mit Kind und Kegel gemütlich über die Autobahn zu laufen.
    Höchste Aufmerksamkeit ist also gefragt!!
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