We were 20 feet from a lion before 9 a.m. Wow, I guess we’re really in Africa.
Monday — all of Monday — was spent flying 5,000+ miles straight south. But I must say, KLM airlines is not a bad way to fly. We arrived after 10 pm in Johannesburg, where we breezed through baggage and customs and were picked up by a driver from our hotel. We spent the night at a quaint B&B near the airport with clean & comfy rooms, a lush garden for A to run around in the morning, and friendly pets (2 dogs and a parrot) so we were all happy.
First thing Tuesday, we picked up our rental car and started the long drive to Kruger National Park. The first hour was, shall we say, not promising. We headed the wrong direction out of the city. The car’s GPS was sending us in circles. Audrey threw up all her airline food in the back seat (luckily in a bag). We rebounded quickly, though, and were soon back on track.
The drive took us through corn and wheat fields that looked a lot like Kansas, past nuclear reactors and depressing coal towns, over rolling hills and impressive mountain passes. We had lunch in a really adorable town called Dullstrrom. (In typical fashion, we ordered Audrey chicken strips and instead she ate our feta and smoked trout salad.)
The morning delays had us running late and by the time we got to the gate of the game reserve (30+ minutes from our lodge), we knew we were too late to catch the 4:30 game drive. And then we drove to the wrong lodge (I’ll explain later). But the big up-side was that while we were driving around, we had our own game drive. From our rental car, we saw giraffe, zebra, impala, jackals, kudu, duiker, and baboons. Holy crap.
We finally arrived at the lodge, and… Oh my god… This is the way to travel. Gorgeous suite with a pitched thatch roof, two beds (though unlikely A will leave ours), indoor and outdoor showers, private deck and plunge pool… It’s amazing.
We had late dinner when the others got back from the evening game drive and then passed out in our room to try to catch some sleep before the 5 am wake up call. We slept pretty well except for what I’m pretty sure was a bat in our room in the middle of the night. Thank god for the mosquito netting around our four-poster bed! (to be continued!)