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Our Amazing Adventure in South Africa - Part 1

What an amazing adventure.

The itinerary we chose was based on culture, wildlife and scenery.We also chose a company that uses local guides, supports the local economy, and has an animal welfare policy in place.Our trip with Exodus Travels was the trip of a lifetime.

As we landed in Johannesburg, I couldn’t believe we were n South Africa.It had been our dream trip for a long time and we had finally arrived. We picked up our luggage, and were transported to the Aviator Hotel for two nights to adjust to the time change.

Day 1 started at 8AM when we were picked up by our guides, Coly and Jo Jo. Our mode of transportation for the tour was an 18 passenger air conditioned Mercedes van with a trailer for luggage and supplies.It was very comfortable and had lots of room.As we left Johannesburg, we noticed the decent highways on our way to Mpumalanga province, with a lunch stop at Pilgrim’s Rest. We drove through Robbers’ Pass - what a scenic drive.We got our first sighting of wildlife - a troop of baboons in a corn field picking through remnants of the harvest.What a great start to the trip.

Day 2 took us to an amazing tented camp at the Letaba Ranch Reserve.What a beautiful property.It was completely isolated and self- sustaining through the use of wind and solar power, and rain water.Late in the afternoon, we went on an open vehicle sunset drive, and saw giraffes, Cape buffalo, impala, eland, springbok and zebra.It’s hard to describe the beauty of the giraffes moving so majestically in the sunset.Upon our return, we were treated to an amazing dinner by some local ladies.At bedtime we were escorted to our tents by the local guides for a good night’s sleep while listening to the sounds of the wild.The next morning we were up early for a morning game walk through the reserve.We came upon a herd of hippos relaxing in the river and felt the rush of adrenalin after we found the fresh tracks of a male lion.

Our next destination is the amazing Kruger National Park.We spent two nights at the Skukuza rest camp in cute little self- contained rondevals (African mud huts with a thatched grass roof).While in Kruger we completed two daytime game drives, and saw Cape buffalo, giraffes, wart hogs, a leopard, lions, kudu, impala, hippos, crocodiles, vultures, elephants, baboons and springbok.We also did an optional sunset game drive- what a great decision that was.We were able to witness elephants trumpeting, Cape buffalo playing and baby hyenas just hanging out waiting for mom.After dark, we also witnessed nocturnal animals like jennets and bush babies.Kruger was one for the books.

The next leg of our trip took us across the border into Swaziland.The itinerary included a night game drive to see the rhinos.As we approached Hlane Game Reserve, Coly received a call that all night game drives have been cancelled because of poaching activity in the area.Our group completely understood as the safety of the animals is the priority.We stop briefly to get supplies for the evening, and we purchase a bottle of wine called “Rhino Tears” – 15 Rand (approximately $1.50 CAD) of every bottle sold is dedicated to anti-poaching campaigns in the region. Once we entered the game reserve, we were excited to see several rhinos, and toasted their survival around the evening bonfire at our camp.

What happened next? Stay tuned.

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