Our Great South African Adventure: Days 7 & 8

Note: I'm posting the trip in increments of one or two days, so make sure you start from my first post and work your way backwards--just follow the titles!

  • I couldn’t get enough of the wild animals, so Bryan and I decided to do another game drive, this time in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. The weather had finally cleared up the day before, so this was our first chance to see a beautiful African sunrise (since we left the hotel at 4am!!). We didn’t get to see the elusive leopard, but we did get a lot closer to the buffalo, and we saw more giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and elephants.
  • Next it was back in the van for a long drive to Durban, one of the big cities in South Africa. Durban is known to have a fair bit of crime in the city, so we actually stayed a little north of the city in an area called Umhlanga. Linda dropped us off there just after lunch, and then he left us! We were sad to see him go, he was a great guide!
  • Durban was the warmest city we had been in, and our hotel was a short 5 minute walk from the beach. Bryan and I grabbed a pizza and then headed down and relaxed a bit on the shore of the Indian Ocean. I was struck by the difference in their sand (if you can call it that) and ours—there it was basically small pebbles and shells. We didn’t change into our bathing suits before going down, but I did roll up my pants legs and get my feet in the water. When else am I going to have a chance to get in the Indian Ocean?! Bryan put his hand in… that was enough for him. :) It was VERY chilly, that water!
  • Since the sun was out and our hotel had a pool, we did go back and put our swimsuits on and lounge by the rooftop pool for a bit. That was the only time the bathing suits came out. And, really, it was a little too chilly for them that day, but we were determined to make the most of it. :)

  • Day 8 was a travel day. We were scheduled to fly from Durban to Port Elizabeth, where we’d meet our new guide who would be with us for the rest of the trip. Somehow our three travel companions had an earlier flight than us, so we got to sleep in a bit while they got to wait for us in Port Elizabeth. :) This was okay when they were only waiting an hour or so, but we encountered quite a debacle at the airport. To make a long story short, one of South Africa’s rugby teams had decided they wanted to go to P. E. that day, and they took over the flight we were supposed to be on. With all of their equipment, they were too much weight, so we got booted. Of course, South African Airways told us we couldn’t go on the flight because there was really bad fog in P. E. and the pilot HAD TO carry extra fuel and that was making the plane too heavy. When we finally did arrive in P. E. 3 hours later, the sky was clear, and Alex, our new guide, informed us that it had been beautiful all day. Nice. Alex would be with us for the rest of the trip, and he provided a whole different perspective from Linda. Alex’s parents were Dutch, but he had been born in S. Africa. His and Linda’s views of their country were similar, but there’s still a distinct difference (from what I could see) between white South Africans and black South Africans. It’s funny, because, as an American, it seems wrong to make that distinction in writing, but for them it’s very natural—apartheid ended just 15 years ago, so the separation is still very relevant.
  • Next we headed to Knysna, where we’d be for 2 nights. We were now in the southern part of the country, and boy, is it different from the parts we’d spent our first week in! Equally beautiful, but in a totally different way. We arrived at our hotel in time for dinner, where Bryan and I both tried springbok, a type of small antelope. I liked it, I don’t think Bryan liked it as much.

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