Monday, May 31, 2010

African Adventure: Part ONE!

There is SO MUCH to tell about Africa that I have to do it in installments! haha Part One is Day 1- 8 in Africa, so basically the first half of our trip, which we spent in an AMAZING safari camp in the province of Limpopo, which is about 2-3 hours outside of Johannesburg. Elin and Teek met us in Joberg (that's what the cool kids call it) and traveled up with us to Dinkweng.

Our lodge was amazing and the view of the back porch was spectacular, we even had our very own fire pit and braai (essentially South African bbq) area!! But it got better: since we were the only guests that week, we got the Polaris (basically a huge golf cart!) ALL to ourselves for the whole week. Since Dinkweng is the "nice animal reserve" (no lions and tigers and bears!) we got to drive into the valley in our Polaris and drive around looking for the two giraffes that were on the property (which we saw--TWICE!) and a ton of different kinds of African deer. It was basically my dad's way of figuring out his menu for the next two weeks on wheels!! (he ate warthog, kudu, ostrich and springbok! I ate chicken!).
The night of our arrival, the nicest people in the entire world (the family that manages the gianormous property) hosted a braai for the 5 of us at the main lodge which was the most amazing kickoff to probably the best eating two weeks of my entire life!! We had chicken skewers and pork chops and the best sweet potatoes I have ever eaten and beer bread and God's gift to man: bacon and cherry skewers (my mouth is literally watering just THINKING of them right now!). What an awesome way to start an truly awesome vacation!
The next day we headed out to K'Ingo which was the sister and neighbor camp of ours which had the big 5, which is buffalo, elephants, leopards rhinos and lions. Of the big 5 we only saw two, elephants and rhinos (which we saw at night so we don't have pictures of them sadly!), but we saw a lot of other cool non big 5 animals too!

My favorite moment of the ride came when we saw two elephants near a watering hole and our guide stopped on the other side of the lake and pulled out a cooler full of beer and a cheese and cracker plate! We all got out and watched the elephants from from probably about 70-ish yards away (I'm TERRIBLE at estimating) and drank a beer!! It was definitely one of the high lights of the trip for me! Another braai followed our game drive, which included the BEST dessert I've ever had: a chocolate cake-y thingy with PUDDING inside! yum yum! Next morning we woke up really early to try to catch the giraffes and saw a lot more on our property than we had the previous day!

(Kudu above, impala below)
Elin and Teek left that day which left me, Mom and Dad to relax, play cut throat Canasta, take afternoon Polaris rides and watch Planet Earth for the rest of the week...but that doesn't mean it got boring!! On Tuesday, Dad and I decided to go mountain biking. This might shock you, but I was actually the one to suggest it! The next hour or two consisted of probably the funniest and hardest bike ride of my whole life. First, the terrain was MUCH harder than we thought. The uphills were so hard! The downhills were fun though! After we took a break, things got interesting. My Dad's pedal (and arm of the pedal!) kept falling off so we either had to stop every 5 feet to put it back on or he had to continuously kick it back on between pedals. THEN my seat starting getting thought it was on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride or SOMETHING! It was moving around in a seesaw motion unless I put my weight in exactly the right spot..I fell off the back! hahahaha I'm just glad no one saw the two of us was so disastrous!

On Wednesday, we woke up super DUPER early to get over to K'Ingo for our second game drive. It ended up being just us and Brian, our CRAZY but trusty guide. We did a LOT of off roading through the brush which was different than our previous game drive, where he stuck to the trails. But when we ended up seeing two cheetahs, that's when he earned is title of crazy!! We saw them heading away from us so what does Brian do? Stops the car and tells us to all get out to follow them! We did and they ended laying down to groom each other. So there we are, standing about 30 feet away from CHEETAHS (which they could probably travel in .2 seconds..literally) and that's when Brian decided to tell us that Cheetahs drink more blood in a day than water!! Mom and I are naturally FREAKING out, so he decides to tell us how to handle the Cheetah's if they come for us: "Don't worry, if they come for you it'll be at your throat so when they try to attack you just reach out at grab them by their throat. You'll get a few scratches, but you'll be fine." ExCUSE me?? hahah it was so terrifyingly awesome (after we got out alive, of course!) and is another one of my favorite African stories.

On the last day, Dad relinquished his role of driver..for a few minutes..and let me drive! It was a BLAST! I don't know why I didn't INSIST I drive earlier!! I smiled the whole time!!! It was a great way to say goodbye to Safari time. Next post will be Hello City Time!! YAY!

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