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Gail Exchange - South Africa - Safari

Our 4 day Safari in South Africa

It was with much sadness and a few tears that the team had to leave Prestige College at the very early hours of 6.30am, hop into our van and head to Kruger National Park.  It had been an amazing convention and lifelong friends were made.  The courtyard was full of students, saying ‘see you later’ rather than goodbye.  Kimball Union were also on their way to Kruger too and we waved, hoping we might see them again on our Safari.

The trip took 5 hours, and we saw more of the beautiful countryside in Mpumalanga province, stopping once at a ‘petrol station rest area’ and saw Rhino and Buffal... not your typical Bombay Hills pit stop experience.  We arrived at our Pretoriaskop Camp (at the southern end of the park) and moved into our tents.  We met Albert and Tiaan our guides and after lunch headed straightout to the park to find our “big 5” .  The first safari drive was fantastic – we saw lots of elephants and impala – the impala were very special for the first 5 minutes – but are considered the McDonald’s of the National Park and we soon began driving right by.  After an amazing buffett dinner (we had a fantastic cook) it was a very early night on the first night – very tired team!

Day Two – an early Sunrise Safari out – in the dark and freezing cold (it is winter here after all) we set out looking for Lions and Leopards.  It wasn’t to be, as we came back with photos of more elephants and Impala, but also added the amazing rhino, hyena and wildebeest to our ‘photo collection”.  The sunrise was very beautiful as we drove deep into the park. We returned for breakfast and then had a quiet day at camp, enjoying the surroundings and then headed off in the evening for the Sunset Safari – and while Lauren was a great touch holder, luck was not on our side, we saw lion prints, but no lions.

The next day we headed off to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre – a 3 hour drive north.  We left at 6am and drove through the park in our van, seeing two special things – a family of Hyena right next to the road and the very rare Grounded Hornbill – 6 birds, looking quite regal.  We travelled through the backroads near the park next – seeing a real insight into the South Africa small towns – people collecting water at village taps, very basic school buildings and selling small wares at the side of the road.   

The Conservation Centre was very informative and we learned a lot about the plight of the Rhino and issues of poaching, as well as what conservation successes there have been.  We got to pat a Meer Cat, saw a King Cheetah and our cats (which we hadn’t yet found in the park) We saw baby orphaned Rhino but adult Rhino’s were in quarantine due to a TB risk.  We donated $200 to the centre (as well as our ticket prices and buying lunch) and then we headed home with the stunning Blyde Mountains in the background.

Our final day of a Sunrise Safari was the last hope we had of seeing the Lion and Leopard, but it wasn’t to be.  We saw fresh prints, and ‘deposits’ on the road, knowing a Leopard was nearby, but were until to spot the ‘stealth’ hunter.  We saw a herd of elephants, more giraffe, zebra and of course the beautiful impala.  We also took the opportunity to try and find as many birds as possible – there are 100’s of stunning birds in the park – many with beautiful colourings.  We left the park at 10.30am and then headed to Kruger International Airport.  We flew to Cape Town, arriving at 6pm as it was getting dark… we could see the difference in this city compared to Jo’Berg very quickly… tomorrow we enjoy the city sites.

 

Highlights of the Safari for our team were….

Shania: The Hyena family because it was really unexpected and really interesting.

Arianna: When our car caught up to a family of elephants and we got to watch them walk together for a while.

Nathan: When we saw the cheetahs at the rehab centre because it was interesting to learn about the cheetah, particularly the king cheetahs.

Emily: Watching the beautiful sunrises and sunsets light up the plains each day.

Evelyn: Seeing the pair of white spotted hyenas in the bush.

Ben: Seeing all of the sunsets and sunrises over the African plains

Lauren: Being chased by a herd of wild elephants because it was exciting.

Taylor: Getting to see a family of hyenas on the side of the road while driving through the park. I also enjoyed just being surround by natures beautiful scenery and nature, it’s definitely something I will hold close to my heart forever.

Greer: Seeing the wild rhinos was awesome because they are being targeted for the poaching and might not be around for future generations.

Ginevee: When a family of rhinos crossed the road right in front of us. I thought this was really cool because we were so close to them and they were just minding their own business, they were very peaceful.