Blyde River Canyon – Kruger National Park, South Africa, Africa 2017 – Day 12-13

1211-1217

12/11/17

Blyde River Canyon Info

-Blyde River Canyon is the largest green canyon in the world.

-The Blyde river was used to find a passage from Johannesburg to Malawi to the ocean to transport gold.

-Blyde in dutch means happy. They name the river Blyde as Hendrik Potgieter and crew returned safely from their expedition from Delagoa Bay in 1844 as they had left behind women and children who had considered Potgieter and crew dead after not returning for such a long period of time.  It turned out, they took a wrong turn and followed the wrong river to get home.

-The Treur river means “mourning” in Dutch. This river nearby their encampment was named Treur to mourn what they had thought they had lost.

-Pine trees are grown and used to produce paper

-Eucalyptus trees aka gum trees are grown to be used as power poles and they are good for building foundations as they suck up a lot of waters

 

Different from the travel days previous, this day had multiple stops along the way with multiple view points and locations within Blyde River Canyon.

The Three Rondavels was the first viewpoint of the day. Rondavels are homes or shelters that made circular because snakes try to hide in corners thus – snakes would stay away.  The Three Rondavels are similar to Australia’s Three Sisters in Blue Mountain, Sydney. There is a market there but Will told us that at Bourkes Luck Pothole has a market and the same stuff and we should wait to keep on time with our driving times.

Bourkes Luck Potholes was our stop for lunch. As Clive the cook set up lunch, we ventured the Bourkes Potholes by climbing and jumping on rocks then crossed the bridge where the water was flowing and dipped our feet into the water. We had about 20-30 minutes free time to explore and shop before we had to go back to the picnic table area for lunch. Lunch was a little lacklustre with the appearance of that rice with polagna (spam substance) with peas and cheese yet again (lacking flavour) but at least we had oranges. Alberto did speak up on behalf of our group to talk to the cook about the quality of meals and just to have our voices heard.

Back on the truck we went and next stop – God’s window. Will mentioned that we only had 20 minutes so if we were to walk, we would have to either choose the very top of God’s Window with the tropical rainforest ecosystem or goto all the viewpoints. Luckily for this day in particular they told us to wear sneakers. We started running and rushed to the viewpoints. One viewpoint had a great view as the clouds started to set in but there was a rather large group or family of 20 that also wanted to take over the viewpoint and very rambunctious. We scurried along quickly and at the next viewpoint, we saw nothing. We started to run up towards God’s Window in hopes of fantastic views. Looking back on the steps we took up, the vastness of the landscape around us, it looked beautiful. Once you enter the rainforest, you can feel the difference with the drop in temperature and the change on ecosystem once you get in. We made it to the rock landing to find our view as a blanket of white with the clouds overthrowing and concealing the views this vantage point would have given us. Once we caught our breathe and took what we could in from that area, we bolted back down to continue with our day.

We had one more scheduled stop along the way before we made it to Hazyview – Kruger National Park area and that little area was a pitstop that had a restaurant Will our guide kept telling us about called Harrie’s Pancake House. We unfortunately didn’t have time to even order takeaway but we did have the chance to use the ATM at the bank to withdraw ZAR as we needed actual cash for tipping. We had thought about taking about roughly $300CAD worth of ZAR before we left Canada but didn’t think we would use that much but we obviously never realized the real value of ZAR to CAD. You need to calculate cash for tipping and other expenses.

Kruger National Park & Animal Info

-Kruger National Park was created in 1900 by Paul Kruger to prevent hunting. It is famous for inhabiting the big five – Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards, Lions & Buffaloes.

-It is 19000SQ KM. 600KM from North to South.

-Kruger is in a shape of a boot

-Elephants are the only animals that will die of starvation over age when their 6 sets of molars wear down. A group is called a herd.

-Giraffes have no structure in their family structure. A group is called a journey

-Spotted Hyena have female alpha matriarch. It regurgitates for their young. More successful hunters than lions and can run consistent speed for a few km and toys out their prey. A group is called a clan

-Bilatong – dried meat

Our final campsite for the tour was Nkambeni Safari Camp (Numbi Gate, Kruger National Park, 1350, South Africa) situated by Numbi Gate (West side) just outside Kruger National Park.  You can upgrade to a lodge for $80USD. Nkambeni has an electric fence outside the perimeter as the campsite is built around the wilderness of Kruger National Park.The showers and toilet are open toward the electric fence so you can view nature while showering. We were rushed to the camp to set up our tents before rushing off into another truck (smaller to drive on the non-paved roads) for our night game drive through Kruger.

Rick was our guide for the day. It was already hot so I decided not to bring long sleeve and pants (I was in a tank top and shorts) and boy was that a mistake. The driver sits lower and the rest of the cabin is higher up where we the guests could get a vantage point. Driving and sitting in the front without the sun gets chilly quickly. Gordon luckily packed a windbreaker and lent it to me so I could survive but holy it was still cold.

We took 2 trucks out and drove through but unfortunately during our 2-3 hour drive, we were only able to spot kudu, impala, waterbucks, water Buffaloes (1 of the big 5) and hippopotamuses. During our game drive, we took one break where we were able to step out of the jeep on a road by a pond. They brought some light snacks and gave us some Amarula. Amarula is a fruit tree which elephants absolutely love to eat. The guides are quite skilled at multi-tasking. They are driving, trying to spot animals in the bush, trying to answer our questions and at night, they add on a high powered flashlight to try to spot more animals.

We got back to probably the best meal of the trip – grilled pork, boar sausage, veggies, potatoes, beans and for dessert apple and banana slices with a custard sauce.

We took a quick shower (good water pressure but the hooks are too high). The stalls are illuminated by lights above but not evenly split above all showers. The facilities are unisex toilet and showers. The main reception building and bar is all the way at the back of the site. They offer 20 minutes free wifi at reception (not the best).

12/12/17

Our final full day with the tour had us back in the trucks for our final day game drive. We made packed sandwiches for this game drive. After our first stop, it was already 10AM and the temperature got warmer with the sun beating down, none of the animals were out except for the impalas. The drive was quiet and that warm heat combination with wind made it the perfect napping scenario but of course we didn’t want to since we were on the drive.

We had stopped earlier at one of the main areas to grab a snack and souvenirs if you like (overpriced) but I did purchase bilatong and some sweets. Luckily we made a second stop for lunch at Skukuza golf club but we had already eaten our sandwiches on the jeep. We wanted to order milkshakes but sadly they told us there were no milkshakes yet 15 minutes later milkshakes we saw mileshakes being brought out for others. I left my purchase of Bilatong and candy in the truck (open concept jeeps) but the jerk monkeys got to the candy and destroyed it but left the bilatong alone. There was also an open bag of Nik Naks in the truck but I guess it was too spicy for them but what a mess they made.

Our last round of the drive we spotted in the distance a leopard sitting in the shade which someone had seen movement of an hour before in that area. We unfortunately were not able to see lions or rhino’s. The drive was truly exhausting and very hard to even keep our eyes open. I have such respect for the guide who has to drive in the heat in the same conditions where we constantly kept falling in and out of sleep during the drive. Little lacklustre to end the last game drive.

After a long day in the heat, we took a dip in the pool. The pool bar was empty so Alberto made it his nest to do work and journaling. The pool was really relaxing. I stayed on the bar to tan and relax. We stayed at the pool for a few hours and met a wonderful family originally from Zimbabwe. Kudzai (kood-zay) 33, a mother and a psychologist and within the first 5 minutes of meeting Will, she figured out his character/personality down to the T. She was on vacation with her family (2 daughters) and husband who is a software engineer. Her sister 24, had a scholarship to attend Yale and now teaches intelligent rich kids in a private school. We relaxed by the poolside until the sun started to set before heading back to our camping area to shower and change for our group farewell dinner.

We all had decided earlier in this trip that we would all opt for the buffet dinner the night so we sat down to buffet at 7PM for $20USD. A really nice day to end a trip with thank you’s going around. 12 days past way too quickly. We hung out on the couches in the main building until the winds picked up and we knew a storm was brewing as the sky was lit up with lighting for a few hours and what one was a crisp clear sky where all the stars were present disappeared.

Sydney, Australia 2010 – Day 4

04/28/10

We booked Blue Mountains Special Tour with OZ Trail tours. We met somewhere near Central today to catch our tour bus for Blue Mountain to visit the Three Sisters. Our guide Steve was very informative and funny. Traveled in a 20 seater bus (full bus) and made our way around to Blue Mountain. Stopped by the Neapean river, a short bushwalk to Wentworth falls and to Leura Village where we stopped for lunch and ate some nice meat pies.  After lunch, we travelled a bit father before arriving in Katoomba. We then hopped onto a cable car to cross the canyon between the Three Sisters and the Katoomba Waterfalls.

The story behind the Three Sisters is actually really interesting. Three sisters fell in love with three men from a neighbouring tribe, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back.

We took the railway up a steep incline to the rainforest where they pointed out different types of gum/eucalyptus trees (ribbon gym, scribbly gum etc) on our walkthrough. We then made our way to Kings tableland. It’s a high point with a beautiful view but apparently there were a number of suicides and wrecked cars when you looked over the cliff at the bottom. It was a little windy but nonetheless a beautiful view from the edge.

We took the cable car over and down then the train back up which pulls you backwards so it feels like you are standing. Sad part of today was that we were unable to see kangaroos even after visiting another national park after Kings Tableland. On our way to the ferry, we drove through the Olympic Park where the driver pointed out several buildings that were used for the 2000 games. The ferry ride home brought us along the Parramatta river where we watch the sun set and had the pleasure of the full moon making its presence known as we sailed under the Harbour Bridge.

We leave for Cairns tomorrow morning.