Nelspruit – White River, South Africa

March 30th & 31st, 2009

Today we drove from Kruger National Park to Nelspruit (White River) to stay at my friend Tina’s house for a couple of days. The area she lives in is very private and gated. It was another short stop we were only going to be here for two days.

The next morning we had an exciting visit to this elephant sanctuary called Elephant Whispers. We learned so much about elephants that we never knew before this visit. We also had the pleasure of riding an elephant which was fun.

Follow us on our journey the next and last stop on this trip is Capetown.

Six dozen roses that Tina bought for her home
Maria at Elephant Whispers
John at Elephant Whispers
Maria & John – Young Elephant at Elephant Whispers
Maria & John – Elephant ride at Elephant Whispers
Maria & John – Elephant Whispers

 

Capetown, South Africa

April 1st & 2nd, 2009

Today we flew to Capetown and took a taxi to our hotel the 12 Apostles.  It’s the only hotel that is not on the strip downtown.  It’s exclusive and quiet which is what we wanted since this was our last stop on vacation.  After checking into the hotel, we took a cab to the marina to meet up with our friend Tina’s aunt and cousins for a sunset cruise.  We were lucky enough to be on an amazing Yacht and had a great time cruising around Capetown.   After our cruise, we ended up meeting up with Tina’s father Hugh to have dinner which was great.  Hugh is a great guy, and it was nice spending time with him.

The next two days we had a few tours set up Cape of Good Hope, penguins at Boulders Beach and a few wine tastings.  Our private car picked us up and drove us to Boulders Beach which had hundreds of penguins.  After taking a bunch of pictures, we then drove to Cape Point which is the southern tip of Africa.  The following day our first stop was our first wine tasting.  The building was stone, and it was beautiful.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of the places we visited; I guess we have another excuse to go back.  This one vineyard was the best wine tasting we’ve ever been to.  They gave us alot more than usual at a wine tasting which was rough so early in the day, but we managed (wink, wink).

This was a short stop in Capetown we didn’t have enough time to visit Table Mountain, but we will be visiting again so the next time we will be sure to see it.

Maria & John – Sunset cruise
Whale tail

Maria & John – First Vineyard
Maria
Maria & John

Locals playing soccer
Boulder Beach Penguin

Baboon

Ostrich

Maria & John at the Cape of Good Hope
Coloful Sunset

Safari – Four days on Safari

March 27 – 30, 2009

What a great day it is we get to spend four days on Safari. As soon as we drove into Kruger National Park and arrived at Jacobin we saw an elephant just walking around which was amazing. The only time I’ve seen an elephant was either at the circus or a zoo, and these wild and free elephants are tremendous. We hung out with my good friend Tina and her cousins Sass and Tom were a blast we had a lot of fun with them.

After settling in and unpacking it was the perfect time to take a drive and have our first sundowners the real way. Elvis who was our driver at Jacobin packs the truck with all kinds of liquor, wine and soft drinks and a basket of finger foods that Saloni and Nora cook fresh daily. Once packed and ready to go for our sundowners Elvis drove us to this perfect spot and set up a table with a tablecloth and made us all drinks and set up the food. It was a fantastic welcome and a great experience.

Once we were done with the sundowners, we then drove to have a bush brie which is a barbecue in the heat of the bush. Once again another amazing experience. One of the things they told us was not to walk away from the other people and the fire because if Hyenas might drag you off and eat you.

The next day Tina and her cousins had to leave, so we had the whole place to ourselves which was great. We woke up every day at 5:30 am and were on the safari by 6 am hoping to see the Big 5 and of course all the other animals as well.

We were lucky enough to see the following animals.
Leopard
Cheetah
Giraffe
WartHog
Spotted Hyena
Impala
Zebra
Black Rhino
Cows
Buffalo
Elephant
Wild Dog
Baboon
Jackal
Wildebeest
Reedbuck
Nyala
Steenbok
Waterbuck
Bushbuck
Kudu

We were very lucky to see a Leopard that had just killed and dragged an Impala up a tree. The next day we went back to that same spot and saw the leopard finishing off the Impala, and you could hear the Leopard cracking the bones while eating it was wild. That afternoon we saw the leopard feeding her two cubs which is a rare sighting.

The only animal we weren’t lucky enough to see was the lion. Hopefully, the next time we go on Safari we will see them in the wild.

Follow us on our journey the next stop is Nelspruit/White River.

A Herd of Cows
The never-ending road to Kruger National Park

All the different lodges

Chalet 4 where we slept
Bullnose bird
Watering hole

Nora, Saloni &
Elvis
Huge spider

Imapala

Outdoor dining at Jacobin with view of the watering hole

Ant Hill
Leopard and her kill an Impala
Leopard and her kill an Impala

Leopard and her kill an Impala

Another sundowner
Owl
Me next to the Safari vehicle
Dinner being cooked over hot coals
Elvis & John
Me & Elvis

Zebra relaxing
Zebra’s getting busy
Giraffe’s and Zebra’s
Giraffe
Giraffe
Leopard
Leopard eating an Impala
Leopard with an Imapala Leg
Leopard and her cub
Black Rhino
WartHog
John & Elvis
Nkorho Bush Lodge another safari lodge
Lovely Eli
Beautiful sunset
Locals carrying sticks for a fire on their heads

Johannesburg, South Africa

March 25, 2009

Growing up I had family that lived in South Africa I always dreamed of one day visiting them and figured that would never happen because Africa is so far away. When I started dating my husband in 2008, I had told him that one of my good friends Tina had just moved back to her hometown of Nelspruit which is a town in South Africa. The last thing she told me was that I had an open invitation to visit her whenever I wanted to, as soon as I told John that she extended an invitation he jumped at the opportunity and started planning the trip the next day.

The flight to Johannesburg is 20 hours we flew from JFK to Atlanta, GA to catch our connecting flight from there we flew to Dakar where we had to get out of our seats while security checked the plane. The last thing we wanted to do after flying about 15 hours was to be hassled to check the plane. Either way, after they checked our plane and we refueled, we were off to Johannesburg. Finally, we arrived at our first destination after 20 hours.

Unfortunately, our luggage didn’t make it in time, so we were without our belongings for one day. We checked into an amazing hotel called the Four Seasons Westcliff. This hotel embodies luxury and style. With its beautifully landscaped gardens and sitting high above you have a fantastic view of Johannesburg’s suburbs. It is breathtaking. A must see if you are traveling to South Africa.

Westcliff Hotel

After checking into the hotel, we had to take a drive to the local mall which was the last thing we wanted to do to get a change of clothes. The concierge advised us to take security with us, and we told them that we would be okay without the security, but they insisted which kind of made me nervous even though I grew up in Jamaica, Queens and John grew up in the Bronx. If you are unfamiliar with New York, Jamaica is not the best part of Queens. I had to go through metal detectors every day to get into my high school, so I was used to being in a bad neighborhood. I survived so I guess it can’t be that bad. We didn’t spend too much time at the mall because it was nighttime and we still needed to have dinner and get settled in and rest since the next day we were flying to Mpumalanga.  Follow us along our journey next stop four day on Safari.

Mpumalanga International Airport