Thursday, February 03, 2011

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 9

When I look back on our trip to South Africa, there are so many moments that stand out as being truly special. There were quite a few times where I was literally breathless from what I was witnessing. Our safari was undoubtedly one of the experiences that still – seven months later – seems like a dream. It was that awesome.

When I booked our trip, when I decided that we’d take the one day safari, I expected that it would be fun but I had no idea. No idea! Not the slightest clue as to how awesome it would be.

It was so awesome.

We were up early on the morning of the safari: 6:00 am, so that we could get dressed and have breakfast before our tour guide picked us up at 6:45. Which was actually 7:15. Of course. I am such an anal, punctual American; I’m not sure I ever got used to Africa time.

The ride to Pilanesberg National Park took a couple hours, plus the extra time spent picking up our fellow safari-goers at their respective hotels. I’m pretty sure I took a nap en route. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that everyone took a nap en route.

When we got to Park, we had this big to do with the tour operator about our vehicle. We had the option of paying extra to take our tour in an open air safari vehicle or just going along in our tour bus. The tour bus would obviously be very lame, but our tour guide was sort of a tool about letting us get in the open air vehicle. ...which we’d be charged more for. Whatever. We were touring with a really awesome Italian woman who put up a fight for us and, funny, the previously unavailable open air vehicle was suddenly available. Go figure.

Two of the girls in our group decide that they’d rather stay in the van. They were dressed to the nines and had put on makeup in the van. Surprised? Not us.

The rest of our group had an awesome time in the open air vehicle.

I absolutely cannot describe what it was like when our vehicle turned a corner and, a few hundred yards away, a giraffe was standing by the side of the road. When I saw the first giraffe, I thought it was a statue. I honestly thought that it was a statue. How could I be so close to such a magnificent creature? I’m still not sure that I believe it.

We saw all sorts of animals – gnus and springbok and the cutest tiny monkeys running alongside the road. At one point, our driver pulled us off of the main path and turned off the vehicle. Sitting just before us was an elephant. Just hanging out, munching away on a tree. It was so quiet and we were so close that you could hear him chomping away. Absolutely amazing.

The safari experience was incredible. If there is any non-soccer activity that I am grateful to have scheduled into our trip, it was that. I would have been happy with driving around that park and looking for animals for days upon days.

I already want to go back. I want to go on a long game drive at Kruger National Park. I want to pack up my (nonexistent) husband and my (nonexistent) pre-teens and spend three or four days on a safari. Or maybe go with Lucy and Chet. Or by myself. I don’t even care. I just want to go back.

As part of our tour, we took a stop at Sun City, which is this big, lavish hotel and casino complex that isn’t far from Pilanesberg National Park. I guess that the point of including that in our tour was to give us an opportunity to have lunch and a chance to gawk at the grounds. It was nice, I guess, but I wasn’t all that impressed. A casino is a casino is a casino, right? That’s how I felt, anyway. I was equally unimpressed by the restaurant we had a quick lunch at. As well as by the painfully boring guy from Atlanta who we reluctantly invited to traipse around the casino with us.

I did, however, get the chance to buy a print from the 2010 World Cup Fine Art Collection when we were at Sun City. It is framed and hanging in my living room and I love it.

The print is called Soccer in Africa: Rural Game by an artist from Mozambique named Isaac Sithole.

At some other point during the trip, I bought a mug with another piece of his art (the right side of the image above) on it. I am as obsessed with the mug as I am with the art print. Whenever I drink my tea out of that mug, it makes me happy.

That night, we ventured back to Melrose Arch for the evening. It was a Friday night and it was PACKED. It took us a few tries to find a restaurant that would seat us, but we did. We watched the Spain/Chile game on the televisions at the restaurant.

I had just started getting sick at that point, and I ordered hot tea to go with my dinner. Meg ordered Raspberry Tea. Which was definitely an alcoholic drink served out of a teapot. Typical.


Kari said...

Giraffes are so beautiful.
I lucked out and got to see one that was two days old when I was in Minot, ND a few years ago. It was amazingly graceful and so beautiful. It almost made up for having to be in a hotel that had someone else's sock's in the bed....umm ya, we cut the trip short.

Teagan B. Sawyer said...

Ohhhh I'm so jealous. I love your travel posts from South Africa. Sounds like it was planned perfectly. I am also dying to go to Kruger National Park. Looks like it was a blast :) You sound like me in my travel planning and research.

A said...

I have a great idea, Teagan. Bloggers in Africa. It will be a grand adventure. ;)

Kari: I gagged when I read the part about the stranger's sock in your beg. Ewww.

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