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Chasing a Dream - Part I "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost

Swazi and Kruger

SWAZILAND | Sunday, 20 March 2016 | Views [342]

Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

6 days into the tour and having a great time. I can’t believe a week has nearly gone by; it makes me glad I’ll be on tour for 30 days. I arrived in Joburg last Sunday and joined up with the Tucan Tour in Pretoria. I only had a few hours before the joining meeting, so it was spent stocking up on supplies and just relaxing. There are 13 other passengers for the first segment to Vic Falls, our tour guide and driver and the destination manager. Mostly solo travelers and mostly female and a wide range of ages. One of my favorite aspects of booking with an adventure tour company like Tucan or Intrepid it the interesting mix of people you end up meeting. We are all from such various backgrounds, and careers and yet we share a passion for travel that unite us. I was surprised that there were a few people on this tour that had made the same decision I did to quit their jobs to travel and we will all be going to Cape Town. I look forward to getting to know them better and hearing about their experiences.

From Pretoria we crossed the border into Swaziland and stayed in charming rondavels in the middle of a wildlife reserve. As we pulled up to camp, there were a herd of Impala and Zebra grazing in front of our accommodations. The landscape of Swazi was quite hilly and green and reminded me a lot of the Pacific Northwest though the foliage was more tropical. We were here two nights and had a full free day to explore the area. There were many outdoor adventure options, but a group of us decided to spend the day exploring the park on foot on the many walking trails. There are no predatory animals, so it was safe to do so. The wildlife viewing was limited; we saw mostly zebra and impala and the occasional warthog, but it felt good to just get out and stretch the legs after sitting in the overland truck for so long. In the evening the rest of the group went for a cultural tour and a visit to the local hot springs, while I remained at camp just soaking in the surroundings in solitude. A wise decision it turned out as the cultural tour was a visit to a fake “village” and the hot spring was a dilapidated swimming pool at a tepid 34 C.

On Wednesday we crossed back over to South Africa and made our way toward Kruger National Park, stopping at a couple of nice lookouts along the way. We spent the night in Hazyview, right outside the park gates. It was an early morning (5:30am) departure so we could begin our game drive while the animals were most active. First part of the drive was pretty boring, and we saw very few animals. Unlike the Serengeti, there were many trees and shrubs which really obstructed the view. In the late afternoon we got lucky and came across a leopard crossing the road; by the time I got my camera out and set, he was some distance away so I was unable to get a good shot. The second day of game drives was much better and we saw a cheetah, several rhinos, and three lions feasting on a fresh kill. All were within a 100m of the road as well so it was very exciting.

Saturday was another 5am wakeup and long drive to Musina, right near the Zimbabwe border. We arrived into camp by mid-afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised by the very modern facilities in the rondavels and also the camp many amenities including a mini-golf course. It was the first time we had arrived at our destination early enough to have some free time and it was a pleasure to explore camp at a leisurely pace. Some of us girls went for a hike to a viewpoint, but we were turned back by a group of rather angry baboons before we could reach the summit.

Sunday was border crossing day into Zimbabwe, and we spent several hours at one of the busiest borders in Africa.  Then it was another 300 km of dodging cows before arriving to our hotel in the late evening.  Tomorrow will be a full day game drive in Matoba National Park where we will do a walking safari in search of rhinos.

Tags: kruger national park, swaziland

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