Monday, January 25, 2010

South Africa - Drive North and Kruger Park

From South Africa

Drove up North through Blyde River Canyon and then over to Kruger.  Beautiful drive through some amazing country; the landscape changes every 100K, flat lands, hills, hugh cattle farms, pine forests, steep rocky outcroppings, etc. The highway stretches forever with nothing in between the exits, yet we often see people walking along the road.  Parts of the highway are adjacent to shanty towns and they have signs that read !Danger Hijacking Area! !Do Not Stop!.  The median on the highway has a wall 15ft high and 6 feet thick in these areas, separating the shanty on one side and a more middle class neighborhood on the other.

South Africa is a first world country with loads of infrastructure, yet many jobs that can quickly be done with machinery are done by hand.  This is done on purpose in an attempt to create more employment.  For example, you see large teams of workers cutting grass and trimming bushes along the highway by hand.  Gas stations are required by law to have full teams and stay open 24 hrs.

Along the ride, you can’t help but notice gas station managers and shop owners wearing side arms in some of the places that we stop.  A Constant reminder that you always need to be careful.

Spent a night at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge (pic at top), very beautiful lodge and very reasonably priced.

From "God's Window", South Africa

On the road to Kruger, we stopped by a place called ‘Gods Window’ with unbelievable views.

We arrived in Hazyview between Numbi and Phabeni Gates at Kruger.  Stayed at the Umbhaba Lodge which is not worth the price – just a tourist trap.  Worry more about spending as much time in the park, rather than where you’ll sleep.  We went for a night drive and a day drive through Kruger.  Amazing, and you can drive into the park on your own during the day.  Saw loads of wildlife including 4 of the Big 5 (the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt on foot) – buffalo, elephants, rhino, and leopard – didn’t get lions yet.

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