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Don't take away our corkscrew!!

Written on: Wednesday November 22nd, 2006

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

  • We'd been borrowing corkscrews since arriving in Africa, each night we?d vow that we?d buy one the next day but each time we went to the store, we?d buy wine but no corkscrew. At Tsitsikamma there was no corkscrew and no one to borrow one from but somehow Mike managed to get the bottle open. Roger came back from shopping in Cape St. Francis very proud that he?d remembered to buy one but when he looked in the shopping bag there was no corkscrew there, Mike worked his magic again. The next morning we checked at the store and there it was lying next to the cash register, Roger pounced on it and put it in his backpack and there it stayed as we had a corkscrew in the chalet at Addo. Today, November 21st we drove back to Port Elizabeth and took a short flight to Durban but when we went through security we had the corkscrew confiscated (still in it?s original packaging), Roger forgot to take it out of his carryon!!

  • We picked up a van from the airport and had a 2 hour drive to St Lucia. The countryside was as it has always been, beautiful, but a bit different here. There were many planted tree forests and also fields and fields of a crop which we couldn?t make out. All we could see was that before the crop was harvested, it was set on fire. It looked like a sort of bamboo. We also noted that this area was more like the Africa we had expected, poorer housing and fewer white people around.

  • We checked into our room which is an old cottage in the grounds of a nice hotel ? the room is a bit basic but it will do us for three nights ? and it was cheap!! The lady at the front desk gave us some info on where to go, she told us that there?s an area where you can watch crocodiles from the shore so we decided to have a walk down there. She also told us to beware of hippos roaming the streets, we later found out that this usually only occurs after dark as the hippos spend most of the day in the water and come into town on night to graze. It was a long walk but as soon as we got there we spotted a crocodile in the water, we didn?t see much of him as most of the time he was submerged, as were the hippos. We saw about four of them playing around in the water. Occasionally they?d come out a bit, Mike?s super-duper camera got a good photo of one with its mouth wide open. After dinner at the hotel we had an early night as we had to be up at 4:30 am the next day ? we were booked for a day in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Nature Reserve.

  • Scott of Heritage Tours and Safari picked us up at 5 am in a truck fitted with high seats attached to the truck bed, there was room for 9 people and Ben from Germany was already in the truck, we picked up two Swiss people and two more Germans from different hotels around the town and then we readied ourselves for an hour?s drive to the Park. There was a canvas canopy over the seats and as it was a coolish morning Scott covered in the sides promising to open everything up once we got to the park. On the way we passed through Mtubatuba where we understand Ernie Els was raised. From what we saw he came from a very humble background as the town is mainly made up of blacks and the housing is very basic. Once at the park, Scott pulled up the canvas sides and told us that we were going to drive for about an hour to a picnic site where we?d have breakfast but along the way if we saw anything of interest we?d stop. Within five minutes we turned a corner and there was a huge giraffe standing only a few feet from us. Scott said he was an old guy, you could tell by his dark colouring. He just stood there while we snapped piccies. Before we reached the picnic area we?d seen baboons, rhinos, several types of deer, warthogs, wildebeest and birds.

  • The picnic site overlooked a river and in the river closer to the opposite bank was a dead wildebeest, Scott said it had probably died of old age. Two hyenas stood on the bank watching crocodiles approach the wildebeest. People who were already at the picnic site said the hyenas had been feeding on the wildebeest until the crocodiles approached and then they backed off. They were lovely looking creatures, I was surprised as I always thought hyenas would be scrawny like coyotes but they were more like a big cat with huge ears and beautiful fur. They were funny as they eventually went up the bank into some bushes but occasionally would come back to check if the crocs had finished eating yet. The crocs were massive and from time to time we could see them lift the hind leg of the wildebeest as they tried to get to its innards. This was the most interesting breakfast of the trip so far.

  • It was back in the truck after breakfast and a drive around looking at different types of creatures while Scott filled us in on their mating habits, life-spans, eating preference and various other quirks. He was very interesting and very knowledgeable. Eventually we came upon a huge herd of elephants, there must have been 40 of them of all ages. Scott wanted to make sure that the elephants didn?t surround us as he said they can become dangerous if they do, we?d never thought of that in Addo and were absolutely thrilled that they were all around us. I guess we?ll treat them differently another time. Scott was keeping in touch with another group in the park by radio and found out there was a sighting of a lion but it was at the other end of the park, so he told us to hold on to our seats and we went racing off, not sure why we went so quickly because on the way he told us that lions are very lazy and only move for about 4 hours out of 24 and it certainly didn?t move much when we were watching it. Unfortunately it was at quite a distance and even with binoculars we could only just see it but we can say that we have now seen four of the big five.

  • We had lunch at a different picnic site, Scott lit barbeque coals and cooked kebabs, made a salad and potatoes ? very tasty. Then it was back in the truck and another hour of animal spotting. Scott tried desperately to find us a lion but it wasn?t to be. Ah well we still have Kruger. It was another fantastic day in beautiful South Africa.