In January, it always seems appropriate to take a look back at the year that just ended to assess the highs and lows and whatever was in between. A definite high point for 2008 was our trip to South Africa. We flew into Johannesburg for Annelie and Jaakko’s wedding, friends of ours from Stockholm. The wedding itself was held at an incredibly picturesque lodge where giraffes, zebras and impalas could be seen as we pulled onto the grounds of this luxurious spot (http://www.kloofzicht.co.za). No doubt about it, we were in AFRICA and it was wonderful. Perhaps it goes without saying that the wedding was gorgeous given the setting. But things got better. The next day, a group of about 2
5 of us from the party (including the bride and groom) headed off on a safari together.
Now this was the experience of a lifetime. I would go back again tomorrow. Again, we were in some posh surroundings at the Motswari game reserve (check out http://www.motswari.co.za) which shares a border with Kruger National Park. On the very first morning, on our very first trip out, we watched two female lions kill an enormous buffalo. It was horrible and spectacular all at once. Much like coming across the aftermath of a car crash, the scene was impossible not to watch as well as impossible to watch all at once. We were in open air jeeps and so close–too close– to the action, coming upon the kill thanks to our tracker who found the prints which we followed to the scene. It was like being in our own show on the Animal Planet and I felt like I was Hemingway himself out with the big game. The sound of the buffalo dying and flesh being eaten, the smell of the blood, the heat of the day–these are all the sensory files that will be forever imprinted on me. Sharing the memory with Robert and friends makes it all the more unforgettable.
It was an amazing start to what continued as an amazing trip and we also marveled at seeing elephants, rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, leopards and more. Words can’t begin to describe what it was like to see these animals not in a zoo, but rather wandering around on their own turf in gorgeously stark surroundings. Each day, we took two safaris–one at 5 am and one at 4pm for the best animal viewing. For the morning trip, we would stop for tea. Our guides would set up a table and cloth out in the middle of the bush and we would meet up with the other members of our party for a swap of animal sighting stories. And on the afternoon trip, we would stop for a sundowner. A gin and tonic always seemed the most appropriate (and healthy) drink to me. In between these trips, we took a daily bush walk. Great stuff.
I have to say that seeing Nelson Mandella’s home in Soweto, as well as his prison cell on Robben Island were also great additions to the trip. And I truly loved the city of Cape Town. We even rented a plane in Stellanbosch and Robert flew us over the vineyards and the Cape of Good Hope. Some great scenery, but nothing could quite compare to the safari.