While I’m laying down in my Fatboy Lamzac I’m writing this article. We woke up early today, the Kruger Park gates open at 4.30 am. Yep that’s right, 4.30 am!
Since it’s currently too hot for both the animals and ourselves it’s a perfect time to describe our first days.
Here we go!
15th of January 2018 was finally there. After multiple ‘goodbye’ events, drinks, matches etc. we got on the plane to Johannesburg. Both customs and the security check in Amsterdam and Johannesburg were in a good mood today. Our bag with all our electronic equipment (including the drone batteries) didn’t need to be opened and there were practically no queues. After a perfect flight we arrived at Johannesburg where we stayed at the Aero Guestlodge. It was pretty convenient that they picked us up at the airport.
After a good night of sleep we woke up on a perfect African summer day. We had one goal for today and that was to pick up our car. We bought our 4×4, or like the gurus call it ‘our Fourbie’, at Bushlore (link). Bushlore is a rental company with over 200 4×4’s. We’ve picked an overcomplete 2015 Toyota Hilux Double Cab. The car has basically got everything you might need when living/working/travelling on the road. It’s a high clearance vehicle (comes in handy when driving on these sandy roads), got an extra large fuel tank (160 liters), a rooftop tent, a watertank (60 liters) and a fridge in the back.
It’s not a Volkswagen Fox
It’s obvious that you can’t compare our little Volkswagen back in the Netherlands with this beast. This became all the more obvious when we got an extensive 2,5 hour explanation of the car itself and all it’s accessories. We got to know where the watertank is located, how the air compressor and hi-jack work, that we have a camping shower (awesome!), how we should get the gas cans out and how we should deal with the double battery system in our car. We were surprised by how complete the car actually is.
After the awkward moment of swiping my credit card we went to one of Johannesburg’s cosy ( 😉 ) shopping malls. A big parking lot with all the shops you need (or might need). This is where we bought our South African pre-paid card, towels and some food for on the road. After a good dinner at our B&B we slept for the first time as owners of a fourbie.
A bit of history
The next morning we wanted to see something of Johannesburg. One of the must do’s is the Apartheidmuseum. This museum explains everything you should know about how it was to live in South Africa at that time, what kind of sick ideas the government had and it shows a lot of videos of that time. Really impressive.
It felt a bit weird but after that visit we did have to do some more shopping to prepare for our trip to Kruger the next day.
From A to B to C to…Kruger
When we were about to leave Johannesburg it turned out that we needed some extra storage/dividers in our car. That’s why we arrived at Builders Warehouse at 7.00am. We visited this store the day before to build our DIY awning (post will follow if we succeed hehe). After we got the boxes we went to Pretoria to pick up our Wild Card.
Ups and downs
We arrived At SANPARKS (South African National Parks) HQ at about 9.00am. This is one of the few places left where you can actually obtain a physical Wild Card on location. With a Wild Card you can visit all National parks of South Africa (and thus it saves a lot of money). Once this smooth process was finished we had to go to the Department of Home Affairs to extend our tourist visa…
When we arrived at the Department of Home Affairs in Nelspruit they didn’t know what we were doing there. We went from the reception to immigration and then immigration told us to go to a complete other location and company. We had to go to Visa Facility Services (VFS). This organisation was located at a different spot in Nelspruit. When we got there we were asked to take place in a queue of over 40 other non-South African people. When it was our turn we were told that we have to go through this online process and that it could take up to 8-10 weeks before we hear anything back. Moreover you need to come to the same office twice and hand over all kinds of documents. That’s going to be a challenge with the trip we’re making. It’s also a bit different than what’s on the site of the SA embassy.
But hey, we will sort this out eventually :)!
Kruger National Park!
We couldn’t wait to leave Nelspruit. After about an hour we were welcomed by some elephants, this was even before the formal entrance to the park. Then we drove into the park and four white rhino’s were ‘waiting on us’, what a start! We made a short evening drive through the park (we were pretty late) and managed to spot a rhino that was drinking water as well as the sun set.
Here we are, under the stars
Like John Legend sung before, there we were under the stars. We camped at Berg-en-Dal in Kruger. It’s an excellent camp and probably because the local school holidays had just ended we were almost by ourselves on the campsite. We went to bed early so we could wake up at 4.10am.
While the gate opens at 4.30am this time of year the sun only rises at 5.17am. As a consequence the first bit of our morning drive was pretty much in the dark. Woking up early was actually rewarded with the magnificent sight of a couple of white rhinos. We also stumbled upon the remains of a buffalo that was being torn apart by more than 100 (!) vultures. This didn’t stop us from having a delicious ‘roosterkoek’ with butter at a picknick site in Kruger.
It’s still amazing that I can worry about how to get out of this Fatboy Lamzac without smashing my laptop on the ground.
To be continued!