Mpumalanga:the place where the sun rises
Last weekend I ventured 1,864km from my bustling city life in Cape Town all the way north and across the country to Sabi Sands Game Reserve adjacent to the infamous Kruger National Park in the Mpumalanga province with my friends Lauren, Josh, and Colin.
As you can see, physically it was quite the trek (keep in mind South Africa is 3x the size of Texas!) As seems to be the trend these past few months, once again, South Africa slapped me across the face with humility, respect, and awe. There is so much I want to illustrate as part of this post so I can communicate the experience to you effectively, but also so I can personally reflect and document vividly as well. Therefore, I have decided to split this post up into a couple installments. I hope you check back soon to enjoy the whole story!
Friday October 19, 2012
As you all know I am a gem in the morning so you won’t be surprised when I say I literally rolled out of bed at 4:45am in what I planned to wear on the plane, brushed my teeth and caught a taxi to the airport to catch our 6:10am flight to Johannesburg.
After a much needed 2 hour siesta we rented a car, stocked up on road trip necessities (coffee, chips, dried beef and fruit) and we were off! I drove us the whole 7 hrs. since I am the only one able to drive a standard car. And let’s be honest I learned from my dad how to save and that everyone else on the road is a moron except for me so it was only natural that we save money on the car and I volunteer to drive. Josh was my co-pilot, Colin was the official documenter with his GoPro, and Lauren looked pretty and was the dj for our sing-a-long sessions. Our car, which was later named “Yoshi” was clearly the cheapest option available. In addition to its small size, the clutch and accelerator often would stick so I would have to use my toes to pull them back out. In addition, Yoshi’s horsepower was the equivalent of a three year old on a tricycle, but he got us there and back safely so there are no complaints!
Driving through the beautiful country side of South Africa shed light on how diverse and beautiful this country is and it seemed the farther and farther that we traveled from Cape Town the more and more I surrendered myself to it. The rolling hills, bright red dirt, small farmers, winding roads, canyons, informal traders... The vibrancy of the culture and scenery poured into the windows of our tiny car and lifted us all to a level of excitement we could not contain.
Finally, when we rolled up to the gates of the Sabi Sand game reserve we couldn’t hold it any longer and we had to celebrate our arrival to the broadway version of “Circle of Life” (come on we are grown ups, the Disney version was so 1990). Then as if hitting play made our presence known, as Yoshi climbed over the first hill we found our route blocked by a giraffe! Not like the ones that I fed at the Colorado Springs zoo as a kid, BUT A WILD GIRAFFE! Ear to ear smiles, screams, and off tune belts of it’s the circle of life, and it moves us all totally happened.
Upon arrival at the Nkhoro Bush Lodge, our day only got better. Welcomed by a very friendly staff we luckily made it just in time for the evening game drive. We hopped into the open jeep and were able to add elephants (of which you could see from the lodge at the watering hole), white rhinos, zebras, springbok and more giraffes to our list!
The game drive is followed by a wonderful traditional dinner, reflection of the day, and then exhausted we were all soothed to sleep by a miraculous thunderstorm that boomed throughout the bush and poured rain that pattered rhythmically against our thatched roof.