June 9 – 10: The Journey Home

My last African sunrise.

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The morning started off cloudy and the sun was fighting to show itself again, but made a nice early morning sky. This is my last few hours in the park and I am taking a very slow drive to Skukuza, where I will have a late breakfast or an early lunch and fill the car with gas before going to the airport there.

No critters seen on the trip down to the main road, but a Waterbuck walked in front of me as soon as I turned onto it.


The first bridge had a pair of Saddle-bill Storks again. They posed beautifully!
There was also a Kingfisher on a rock there too. Since he didn’t turn to look my direction I could not tell if he was the Pied or Giant Kingfisher. I thought he looked pretty big at a distance but when I looked at the pictures, I could tell he was a Pied Kingfisher.


A Giraffe stopped to pose for me.


A few Cape Buffalo remained mostly hidden, but showed enough so that I could tell what they were.


At Transport Dam, there were again plenty of critters relaxing – Waterbucks and Impalas.


I was unable to get a picture, but I saw a pair of beautiful little Blue Waxbills. 🙂  I also saw some Rhinos  somewhere along the drive.


At Skukuza camp I got 1 quick picture of these little birds and think they are Chinspot Batis. I was glad that 1 of them stayed out where I could see more of him.
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I wanted to get to the airport and return the car to Avis early to get the errors fixed up before I left. I did get a new representative there and he explained that the problem was that they are only allowed to print out 30 day contracts and mine was for 33 days – so the first guy should have printed out the 2nd one as well. He was unable to enter the corrected kms that I should have had though and when a charge was added for extra kilometers, he did not charge me, but said he would submit it along with a copy of the contract I had. This also explains why the rate was so high, since by the looks of my online contract, I had an over 31 day rate, which they obviously can’t do if they can only do up to 30 day ones. He could also not explain why there were extra charges, when mine said nothing was owing – so, again, he did not ask me to pay. I will give customer service a call and have this updated with what I find out.

I took a couple more pictures of the Skukuza airport while there


and then more of the park, sky and clouds from the air when we left.


At Johannesburg, I returned the phone and rented a modem for the computer to get online for some of the few hours that I would be there. Not sure why I didn’t think of doing that when I arrived and couldn’t get the SIM card installed on the phone. It almost scared me when I knew how to find both the Vodacom Shops and could get around there and get back to them. I also had no problem finding the right gate to get my flight either. I did have plenty of time anyway though.

It was almost midnight when our flight took off and they served us a meal then and another one for breakfast – but it was a long flight to Amsterdam.

In the morning, I took pictures of views and mountains that we passed over.


Then I got some pictures of the Amsterdam area from the sky as we were landing.


I did not get a window seat on the flight from Amsterdam to Winnipeg and my seat was over the wing anyway. I did get some views of Greenland as we flew over it from another window though (just no pictures).

Our flight went over Greenland and then entered Canada from the north, coming down to land in Calgary.

At Calgary I had 1 hour from landing to get my baggage, get through customs, passport control and security and then get to my gate.

Unfortunately security made things difficult. I had 3 little jars of Marula Jam in my carry on baggage. The security at Skukuza and Johannesburg airports had no problems with them. Amsterdam did question it since it was a little over the amount of liquid that can be carried on, but they said I could keep them. My plan after that was to remove them and put them in my baggage to be checked at Calgary, but due to the short time, I forgot.

Security at Calgary pulled them out and said they would have to seize and destroy them. She then gave me the option of going back out of the room and removing some of each jar before coming back – or to go and check my backpack as extra baggage. I chose to check the baggage and I was so happy that WestJet was ok with that. They even put a fragile tag on it after I told them the story.

It was now almost time for the flight to leave though and I had to now go back through security. This time a bell went off when I walked through the scanner. He said it was just a random thing, but he had to scan my hands, waistband and some of the things in my luggage before I could proceed. So – he did. Finally I got through and went looking for my gate. Of course it was the furthest gate from where I was.

As I was running I hear a final boarding call for me. I finally got there, completely out of breath and got on the plane – only to find out that we are grounded due to high winds.  The flight crew was replaced, but we had to continue sitting and waiting.  We sat there for about 3 hours before finally taking off.  I took a picture of the wind sock to show how windy and nasty the weather was.

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They finally cleared us for take off and we were up above the clouds and on our way. So, I took some pictures as we went.


The clouds turned into small fluffy ones when we were over Saskatchewan and then there were no clouds in sight in Manitoba until we reached Winnipeg.
Whew – we made it.

Final picture is of my little buddy Zeb, who accompanied me on this trip and his new buddy (still unnamed) who I bought while at Pretoruiskop on my last full day in the park.

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What a trip! 🙂

More to follow on the Avis problem.

Click here to start at the beginning of this amazing vacation.

6 thoughts on “June 9 – 10: The Journey Home

  1. Its always sad when its time to go home. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I read about the journey home. Thank you for sharing your amazing trip. The way it was told made me feel I was really there. We are lucky to have our blogs and so a great reminder of the trip which can be re-read again and again.

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