A Safari and a Robbery

South Africa

Visited May 2013

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Kruger Park, MP South Africa
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{-25.03355997273359,31.791384446093616}: -25.03355997273359, 31.791384446093616
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5/2/2013 Before the plane had even taken off I was sound asleep. One short nap later (12 hours) and we were almost there! I was a little nervous about what to do when we landed, since Johannesburg is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We had to exchange money to use the pay phone to call our hotel and have a shuttle come get us. Eventually our ride came and brought us to our hotel. He was a young man named Ishmael from Zimbabwe. His dream is to get to the United States, but he got one B in high school and you have to have all A's to get a scholarship. It's crazy what we take for granted. Our hotel was a 4 star hotel, but the neighborhood was kind of scary. The rooms were nice, but small, and I'm pretty sure we were the only people staying in the hotel that night. We went to the restaurant where I ordered ostrich sausage. Then we headed to bed after a long day, but our bodies were having a hard time with the time change, so between that and all the scary noises we heard outside, we didn't get much sleep! 5/3/2013 The lady who served breakfast this morning was also from Zimbabwe. She and her sisters all decided to go separate ways when their parents died and she ended up in South Africa, which she hates. She was trying to raise money to leave by selling jewelry and spoons. We took a 7 day trip to Ghana, and returned to Johannesburg for a real African Safari! 5/10/2013 The drive to Kruger National Park was 5 hours (not including stops). Our driver's name was Sam, and there was another man with us named Peter. Peter is an 82 year old man from England who had dreamed of going on a safari his entire life. He had used his life savings for this trip, and every time we would stop for a meal he would say, "Is it included?" If it was, he would eat. If not, he would go on a walk while the rest of us ate. We got to Kruger around 2pm and were shown to our room. Each room was it's own little hut. Ours had 3 twin beds in it, with mosquito nets around each one. Soon we heard the drums, which we learned meant it was time for our meal. Everyone who is staying at the lodge eats at the same time when the drums are played. We had a quick meal and then were taken to an open jeep on a private game lodge called Thorny Bush. There was a man driving the jeep, and another man, the "spotter" sitting in a chair on the front of the jeep who is supposed to find things for us to look at. The perk of this safari is that if you see something, you can drive off of the road and into the bush to get a closer look. For the first 10 minutes or so we didn't see any animals and we were starting to think they were a myth! Then we came upon some giraffes and we got really excited. We saw a giraffe drinking from a water hole. The driver said we could easily sell that picture to National Geographic and make a fortune. We saw 4 of the Big 5 that night, all but the leopard. (The Big 5 are elephant, cape buffalo, lion, rhino, and leopard. They are called the Big 5 because they are the most dangerous and difficult to hunt.) We saw many elephants, they got so close that a girl reached up and touched one (and got in trouble). Elephants are important because they keep the land clear. They will just pick up a tree with their trunk and uproot the entire thing. They also eat the bark from the trees, but they eat the inside of it. So they rip it off a tree and strip the inside. At one point we came upon a jeep that was stopped looking at something but we didn't know what. Our jeep stop and soon we heard the most terrifying growl I've ever heard in my life, about 10 feet away from us. We looked and saw there was a lioness and her cub devouring a warthog. They were so close, you could even hear the flesh ripping off of the warthog, it was awesome! I got the most amazing closeup shots of them eating. More material for National Geographic*. Tradition on this safari is sundown drinks. Of course we don't drink, so we had our grapetizer and sprite and toasted with the rest of them as the sun set. It was quite the experience! The next morning we got up at 5:30 for our safari at Kruger National Park. This safari was also in an open jeep, but with a canopy on top. The other difference was that we had to stay on the roads, so if we saw something cool, there was no getting closer. Our driver, Goodman, was from a local village that used to be within the park and was moved when the park was made official. He knew EVERYTHING about the animals, it was incredible! He taught us about the males fighting over females and getting kicked out if they didn't bow down to the dominant male. He taught us that white rhino babies walk in front of the mom's and black rhino babies walk behind them. (He compared them to white and black people, white people carry their babies on the front, and black people carry them on the back, which we also saw all over Ghana). We saw all of the Big 5 except a lion, which we had seen the night before so overall we saw them all! We saw the leopard in a tree across the river from us, and he came down out of the tree like he was chasing something, it was an unreal experience. I was grateful to have my sister's long lens and got 5 incredible close up shots of the leopard running down the tree*. We also saw zebra, kudu, impala, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, velvet monkeys, giraffe, ostrich, hornbill, warthogs, and wildebeest (and probably more that I'm forgetting!) It was such a cool day. When we got back to the hotel, we were in our rooms for about an hour before dinner writing in our journals and looking at our awesome pictures. The dinner drums went off and we quickly dropped our stuff and went to dinner. When we got back, an hour later, our door and window were wide open, and my belongings were spread out all over my bed. We quickly discovered that we had been robbed. All of our money, credit cards, passports, identification, cameras, and my iPad were all gone. We ran and got the hotel manager and they had many of their staff out looking within minutes. There were 4 rooms robbed in the hour that we were at dinner. The police came and wrote up a report. My friend's passports were found, but mine was not. We went to bed around 2am. We think it was an inside job, but that's a whole other story for another day. The next morning we were supposed to go on Bushveld Walks, where you walk around the property with a guide who has a gun so he can teach you more things, but it was cancelled due to how late we were up. We were taken back to Johannesburg, where we spent the night in the Aviator Hotel. It was also a 4 star hotel, but much nicer and in a nicer neighborhood than the other one we were in before we went to Ghana. The next day the employee who had driven us to Joburg, Fitzgerald, took us to the embassy so that I could get a new passport. We walked around Joburg a bit trying to get money, but it was 3 o'clock in the morning in Utah and we couldn't have anybody wire us money. After the embassy we went to the police station to get an affidavit so that I would be able to get out of the country. We cancelled our next 2 days worth of plans, because we had no licenses to rent a car and no money to do any of the things we had planned on. Since we were flying standby anyway, we took a fight back to the states one day earlier than we had planned on. *Note - Our cameras were stolen while in South Africa so most of our safari pictures were stolen with them. Please forgive the crude phone photos, it's allĀ I have!

 

About Shayla
To share my adventures,To see other's adventures,To plan my next big adventure
Hometown: Holladay, Utah, United States
Languages: English
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South Africa
South Africa

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