Sorry for the delayed post, but I was just realizing that I would be remiss if I didn't post one of the most memorable experiences of our trip: our Safari. Unfortunately, it's hard to describe just how incredible it was to see all the animals on the savana, and after our camera broke shark-diving, my photos are only from my phone.
We booked an all-inclusive safari at Rhino Post Lodge / Rhino Plains Camp. I didn't know what to expect, but not thinking about any travel details a week was a very relaxing experience. I was so unprepared, that I actually didn't really know anything about Kruger at all: So let me fill you in. Kruger National Park is a game reserve the size of New Jersey, full of animals. We saw rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, lots of impala, a honey-badger, wild african dog, wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, monkeys, bush babies, hyena, LIONS, a jaguar eating an impala, zebra, and so many more animals, I can't even keep track...
On arrival to our lodging, we were informed about the rhythms of safari life: Our wakeup call would be at 5:30 am and we should be ready to go by 6. We'd be back by 11 AM for brunch, and then could relax until 3:30 pm tea, and more safari until about 9 pm, when we'd return for a late dinner. While driving with our guide Collin was great, two days with no exercise had me going a little stir crazy...
So the next two days we went on a walking safari. Animals are more afraid of humans on foot than cars, and so we spent lots of time analyzing dung on the trail. We did however still see rhinos, hippos, elephants, zebra, and wildebeest while hiking.
Our last night we hiked out to a platform situated in the trees near a man-made watering hole, where we camped out under the stars. Hearing jaguars call in the night, and elephants trumpeting while knocking over trees while sitting around the campfire enjoying Boerewors (South African sausage) and a Castle Lager was a truly unforgettable experience.
After our safari, we spent two days in Jo'berg. Our hotel assured us that our neighborhood was "completely safe," but on leaving for dinner our first night the doorman suggested Courtney leave her purse behind. "That will get stolen," he said.
Safety in Johannesburg is relative and that set the tone for our two days there. We hired a driver and tried to see the sites, but honestly, there's nothing that exciting to report, other than the airport has a store called "Big Five Duty," which was funny because we saw plenty of that on safari...
On a sadder note, there's a sickening issue in Kruger that deserves national attention and that's poaching. There's a huge market for rhino horns in Asian markets because people believe ground up rhino horn cures cancer and makes your penis larger, which is pretty ridiculous considering eating rhino horn is about the same as eating your fingernails. Poachers will tranquilize rhinos, and saw off their horn and leave them to bleed to death. The poachers are armed with military weapons, and it seems the corruption in the South African government leaves the park powerless to stop the crimes. Some South Africans asked us to spread the word, so for more information check out: http://www.march4elephantsandrhinos.org/