This will be my last day in South Africa. 😦
I have the morning drive to look forward to, followed by breakfast and then it will be time to head for the airport to begin the long journey home.
Although Cedric and Norman start their leave today, they have decided to stay for the morning drive for us.
We loaded onto the vehicles at 6 am as always and were off. Cedric pointed out critters as we drove past, but he wasn’t stopping for anything this morning. We headed all the way to the gate to Sabi Sands and then turned and kept going. I figured that something was up and we would find out soon enough.
Finally he stopped and said that we would have to wait, but that this was something big. Just as he said it was time to go in, some Hyaenas came out of the bush and walked by our vehicle. My thoughts were that there had to be a lion kill, but I wasn’t expecting the scene we drove into.
The 4 male Lions in the Majingilane coalition were at a buffalo kill having breakfast. The buffalo had been killed that night by the young breakaway Tsalala Lionesses and just moments before we arrived, the Majingilanes took it from them. The girls had eaten quite well, so they boys didn’t get a lot to eat. We were only a few feet away from them and it was an awesome way to start the day.
There are more pictures below, but here is a video I made
One of the newcomers to our vehicle, who had just arrived yesterday and had heard Cedric’s instructions about not standing up in the vehicle, stood up to take a picture of the Lions. The reaction from the Lions was instant as they stopped eating and looked towards us. Cedric immediately told him to sit down and gave him a lecture (well deserved). They are not joking when they say that the critters accept the shape of the vehicle with us all sitting. It was a very tense moment before the lions went back to eating. I don’t think anyone snapped a picture during that minute.
After awhile, we pulled away to let another vehicle come to see them. We hadn’t gone far when we saw Buffalo. This was probably the herd that was missing the one we saw with the lions. So far, we had seen Elephants while quickly driving here, then Lions and now Buffalo. That was 3 of the big 5 in about an hour. Several minutes later and we had also seen a White Rhino. What was the chances of seeing a Leopard and getting the big 5 in one drive? Actually, chances were very good and before too long, we were watching Salayexe.
At that point, I told Cedric that since he was on a roll, maybe he could find Wild Dogs too. Unfortunately, we didn’t find Wild Dogs, but along with the big 5 we did see Waterbuck, Zebra, Kudu, Impalas, Steenbok, Side-striped Jackal, Lilac Breasted Roller and the Hyaenas that I already mentioned.
I had packed everything up last night and after the drive and then breakfast, I paid my bill and headed for the airport. I was fine up until the tar road I was on ended without any mention of Hoedspruit. I knew it should be to the right so I turned that way. There was a sign that mentioned airport, but the name of the airport didn’t mean a thing to me.
I was driving fairly slow and watching for more signs, when I realized that the vehicle behind me was likely the hired car taking the other family that was leaving on the same plane I was taking. I pulled over to let them pass and then sped up to follow them. They waved as they went by and at least I knew I was on the right road and since the driver knew where he was going, I didn’t have to watch for signs for the rest of the trip.
We got there in plenty of time. I turned in the car and since I had not filled it with gas since I left Kruger, they were going to fill it and charge me for it. That was fine with me since I hadn’t felt comfortable about stopping outside of the park to put gas in it. Their estimate seemed a little high, but its possible that they were including the gas from the car that was replaced earlier as well.
The plane was much bigger than the one I had taken from Johannesburg to Nelspruit and it left right on schedule and landed on schedule as well. Once in Johannesburg, I had to find the Vodacom office again to return the phone. That also went well and I will see how much of a refund I will get in a couple of weeks.
The plane to Frankfurt left on time for the overnight flight, so I said good-bye to Africa and settled in on South African Airlines for the night.
Writing today’s blog makes me sad all over again that the trip is over. Up until now, it has felt like I was still there and re-living it while going through the pictures – but, it’s over. Still another full day of flying (a 31 hour day).
Click here to start at the beginning of the trip instead of reading backwards. 🙂