Sunday, May 4, 2014

South Africa Days 1-2

Hello everyone!  Aaron and I returned yesterday from what was honestly the best vacation of our lives.  It was amazing!  I didn't expect South Africa to be so beautiful, jaw dropping gorgeous.  So much of the land was untouched and majestic.  We vacationed for 2 weeks, which was the longest vacation either of us had ever taken.  Americans don't take vacation too often but we met many Europeans who regularly take long, international trips.  Many Germans we met were vacationing for 3-4 weeks.  Hopefully America will take up this mentality!

Saturday morning we drove up to DC and left my car with my brother.  We flew out of Dulles via South African Airlines to Johannesburg.  The flight made one stop to refuel in Dakar in which everyone stayed on the plane.  The flight was 17 hours going, 21 hour return trip and I think my legs are still cramping from it.  Nothing like 17 hours on a plane to make you ridiculously grateful to own a mattress.  They served us 3 meals, which were pretty tasty.  Aaron and I both agree that the meals headed to South Africa were 5x better than the meals we were served on the way back and I don't think it was just our enthusiasm that caused the taste difference.  These people are probably all about welcoming you to their country and then couldn't care less when you head out. :)

We arrived in Johannesburg around 6pm, collected our bags and went straight to the hotel.  We had heard mixed reviews about the safety in Joburg and we were way too tired to find out for ourselves so we stayed in for dinner at hotel.  We stayed at the Protea OR Tambo which was a swanky, modernized hotel that was reminded us of the Aloft chains in the US.

The bartender served us Castle, which is a popular South African beer

Not mashed potatoes - our first South African food - pap! which is a porridge made out of miele-meal/maize

The next morning we rose early and caught the 6:30 shuttle to our game lodge.  Many shuttles run from Joburg to the Krugar area daily as it's a huge tourist attraction and much more affordable than flying.  It was about a 6 hour ride which went by fast.

Then we finally arrived!  We stayed at Naledi Game Lodge which is on Bulule Nature Reserve, a large animal reserve that connects to Krugar National Park.  The animals roam freely between the two.  There are a several safari lodges on the grounds, so sometimes on our drives we would run into other groups.

Picked up at the gate, then hopped into the land cruiser

Welcome to Naledi

Pulling Up

the green pool :-)

View from below the deck

Our room (secret - we received a complimentary upgrade)

sitting area 

our outside deck 

When Aaron stated he wanted to go on a safari I was a little nervous about roughing it, but Naledi was anything but that.  It was pretty luxurious so I don't think I earned any stripes for surviving in the Bush by staying there.  One huge plus was the small size, only 6-8 others were there during our stay.  This was the schedule below

5:00am  knock on the door to wake you up
5:30am  safari time!  this trip would last 3-4 hours, with a snack break in the middle
9:30       breakfast
--free time - go on a nature walk with a guide, go back to bed, or lounge by the pool --
2:30pm  lunch
4:30pm  safari time!  another 3-4 hour ride + snack
9:00       dinner
10:00     bed usually or drinks at the bar

The first day we arrived just before lunch and immediately jumped into the routine.  I'll share pictures from the game rides with you tomorrow!  Zebras, lions, elephants and rhinos!!!

One of my favorite meals at Naledi - ostrich meatballs for lunch :-) they were delicious!

1 comment:

  1. Ah! I forgot about Pap!!! Haha!! Those meatballs sounds amazing!!! I love all the game you have the option of trying while in SA! That loge looks GORGEOUS!!! I wish I had the opportunity to have stayed at a lodge like that... Oh well. Looks stunning so far and I cannot WAIT to see more!!!