Monday, October 08, 2007

Safari

I have put off posting this long enough! I'm having a hard time figuring out what to write about our Safari because it wasn't all it was promised to be.
We flew from Mozambique to Johannesburg on Friday. It was a longer flight because we had 2 stops, but we made it to Johannesburg in time for dinner at McDonald's and then off to bed.
Saturday morning we got up and went back to the airport to wait for the safari company to come pick us up. The man was a little late, but we drove to Siyabona's lunch stop right out side of Kruger park. It was there we found out that we weren't actually staying in the park (where we had reserved) but outside the park at a place called "Cheetah Inn". We were also supposed to go on an evening safari drive, but that wasn't set either. Jenni talked with the travel agent she booked through and was told that Cheetah was 3 minutes from the park and that we would be so happy there because it was deluxe accommodations. We managed to get our van driver to take us through Kruger on the way to Cheetah Inn, so we were able to see some animals before going to Cheetah. The park gates close at 6 so we had to be outside of the gates by then, and then it took another 2 hours! to get to Cheetah! So, we had been in the van from 9:30am to 8:00pm! By then we were all tired and just wanted to eat and go to bed! We did manage to eat a wonderful soup and Braai (an African BBQ) and then we headed off to bed with promises that we would be staying in the park the next night, so we needed to take our luggage with us the next morning. The accommodations were not luxury, and the showers were the worst! We had to push a button down to make the water come through the shower head, but then you had to hold it the entire time you are taking a shower! It was quite interesting to try and rinse the soap out of your hair with only one hand!
The next day we were up at 4:45am and off for our safari by 5:30am with our luggage in tow. From Cheetah to a different Kruger park gate it was only about 30 minutes. It was fun being in the open vehicles and we had a good time looking at animals during the morning. We then stopped for lunch, we had about an hour and a half off of the vehicles and the main driver was pushing us to get going again. We also found out at this time that we were back at Kruger for the night, again. So, we loaded back up into the vehicles and off we went again, only this time it was extremely HOT! It was in the middle of the hottest part of the day.

Originally, we were supposed to have a 3 hour safari in the morning and a 3 hour safari in the evening and down time in the afternoon because it is really too hot to be driving around in an open vehicle. We even had to stop at one point because our driver was dehydrated. I should stop and say this now...when you are on safari you CANNOT get out of the vehicle unless you are in one of the gated camps. It is dangerous with all of those wild animals out there! Well, our other vehicle got a flat tire! Everyone in that vehicle had to get out so the driver could change the tire! We were too far away from them so we didn't know this until later.


We drove around until about 6pm. Had a quick pit stop to use the potty and buy some cold water and then it was back on the road to get to Cheetah. They had already served dinner when we got there and turned off the water. We were so dirty from the dust that one person from each room was trying to take a shower when the water just stopped coming. I had decided that I would wait and it was a good thing because we found out that they had to wait for the tanks to fill back up! I did end up with a nice shower after our reheated dinner.

The next morning we were back on the vehicles at 5:30. We safaried until noon although we had asked to be dropped off at the location our van driver was picking us up by 11am. We convinced our driver to let us have a few minutes to shop as we had very little shopping time on our entire trip! We had fifteen minutes so it was in and out and then on our way back to the Siyabona lunch stop. When we got there the owner just happened to be there. We had found out that the place we were supposed to stay in the park has been full for a long time because it was a holiday (we had been booking this since June and Jenni had been given the run around since then). She talked to the owner and he was really upset. He wanted us to go back on the safari the correct way, but we had a plane to catch the next day! So, he told us he would refund our money, and also talked about giving us some vouchers for a free safari...not that we can actually use it, but maybe Corey and Jenni can get one. Then it was back in the van to drive back to Johannesburg! It seemed to take a lot longer to get back and we ended up stopping at a gas station which had a Wimpy burger in it to get some dinner. We finally made it back to Joburg, took a shower and off to bed! By this time it just felt good to be out of a car and not moving! I was feeling pretty shaky after traveling for that many days straight...but we weren't done yet, because the next day we were back on an airplane to come home...24 more hours of in air time!

Ok, so that was the bad stuff. Here were a few of the highlights on Safari! It was really amazing to see all of the wonderful creatures ,that God has created, in their own natural environment. The elephants were what really scared me though. They were bigger than the car and at a few points I could have reached out and probably touched one if I really wanted to. We saw so many things...Impalas, Kudu, Giraffes, Sable Antelope (which is really rare to see), hippos (although not close up), Monkeys, crocodiles, and Zebra just to name a few.
The highlights of the safari were though...A mother hyena and her pup (we saw them twice), an entire pride of lions I was able to get a picture of 11 of them but we actually saw 13 the other 2 were just a bit further away, and wild dogs which is another really rare animal to see. The wild dogs were funny though we saw a pack of them, and were taking pictures of them when all of the sudden there were Zebras coming through the brush behind the dogs. We asked if they would go after the Zebra, but we were told no that the Zebras are too big for the dogs. Well, the dogs had another thing on their minds and started to chase the Zebra. Well, the Zebras wanted nothing to do with it so they turned around and started chasing the dogs! It was really funny, and I tried to get some pictures of it, but they were too spread out to get one of the dogs and Zebra's at the same time.

Anyways, here are some of my favorite Safari pictures:

6 comments:

Stacy said...

I'm sorry to hear that your safari wasn't all it was cracked up to be. However, I LOVE your photos! I particularly like the giraffe. I have a thing for them. The picture of the sun is gorgeous too.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that your safari was messed up, if you had wanted to ride around in a jeep on dirty, dusty roads you could have gone to the sand dunes in Delta. Those pictures are worth the pain you suffered to get them. They are unbelievable, and to think that you could be so close to animals we only get to see in cages at the zoo.
God blessed you with his beautiful creatures face to face and no safari should ruin that.

Jami said...

Hi Shannon
Thanks for posting the fabulous pics! The kids have really enjoyed them. I am sorry the safari was not as promised. Glad you are home safe and that the mission trip was such a blessing.
Love to you all!

Jami

Anonymous said...

What wonderful pictures!! These make the miserable drive and dinner at McD's all worthwhile!! Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures.
Mom

Nikki *Ü* said...

Holy cow! Those pictures are incredible!! They look like they could be in National Geographic!! So cool!! I'm sorry it was a pain, but at least you did get your money back!! Such an incredible opportunity!!!

{Betsy} said...

I'm sorry that your safari wasn't as planned. But those pictures are great and what a fun experience with the zebras and wild dogs! That sounds so funny!