Our trip to Pretoria was absolutely most fun I have had in a very long time. I have never felt more welcome in a home than we were there. See the cast of characters on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/27231432@N02/ for photos of my new family.
Our flight left Durban for Lanseria, a regional airfield outside of Pretoria, at 7. But because we didn’t know if there would be traffic or how difficult it would be to get through the security… we had to be up at 4 am and out by 5 am. Not really a problem… just felt sleepy. The flight was uneventful, but if you ever have the chance to fly Kulula Airlines, http://www.kulula.com , do IT. Absolutely the funniest safety walk through I have had to listen to, EVER. Just about every announcement from the flight attendants was funny, in a way much like Southwest used to be in their early days. Very tongue in cheek.
Our hosts, Fanie (said Farnie) and the kids, Thornton (13) and Heilize (19) (said closely like Eliza) met us at the door with the bukkie, (pickup truck), this one was a quad cab 4x4 with a shell where we threw the luggage. Without even pausing for air we were off!!! We stopped at a place for breakfast and some souvenir shopping. Breakfast is obviously not the speedy meal it is here in the states…. But it finally arrived. Once we sat down we all ordered coffee for the warmth. Ok, it is winter here… but in Durban it’s in the 70’s, in Pretoria, it was in the upper 30’s lower 40’s, not exactly warm. We all had the same thing… 2 eggs, some bacon and toast. It was served with a grilled tomato on the side. The meal was very good. Next was a stop in the African Market. Here they have booths set up and you look and buy. Don’t touch, because they think you REALLY like it and will buy it, and then commences the bargaining. We wandered our way through just one booth and then we were done. It was just too much with the begging salesmen, and there were lots more booths, but just didn’t want to fight to look!! We did manage to spend a few bucks… though.
Next was a ‘self drive wild animal park/safari’ called Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, www.rhinolion.co.za, where we spent the next 5 or so hours driving and photographing wild animals. We saw, lions, tigers, cheetahs, rhino, zebras, springbok, black wildebeest, cape buffalo, gemsbok, ostrich and warthogs!!!
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I may have missed one or two… but you can see them all on my Flickr page: www.flickr.com/photos/27231432@N02/ . All of these animals are wild and there are some really strict rules about driving through the park and not putting your car in park… because the lions have been known to bite your tires… and they also caution you to keep your car window rolled up at least 1/3 of the way. In one area of the park they have a young animals/breeding area. There for a fee you could play with the cubs. There were 3 Bengal cubs, 4 African Lion cubs and 2 young adolescent Cheetahs that you could play with. Other than a guide, you were not supervised or told what to or not to do!!! I chose the Bengal cubs because they were soooooo cute and active. The lion cubs were all sleeping. We also saw a few other animals that were young, but we didn’t get to play with them… Some Bengal tigers and some white Bengals, a pygmy hippo, some birds…. From here we made our way out of the park and on to the road to their home.
At the house we were shown to our room which was prepared for us with chocolates and a card handmade by Heilize with a handwritten note inside, on the pillow imploring us -“to make ourselves at home and to have as much fun as is humanly possible!” Next it was a snack, of a sausage and chips, I thought it was dinner…. because it was late-ish about 4:30. Sometime between 5:30 and 6 Fanie started cooking a traditional Afrikaan casserole of minced beef (ground beef), onions, mushrooms, potatoes, eggs, and a spice blend. At about 7 pm in walks Fanie’s new bride (of about 4 weeks) Elmarie, she had to work today, but will be with us on our outings over the weekend! We sat down to dinner and then some conversation and tea after dinner. We all turned in early, as we had another adventure in the works for Saturday!!!
The Elephant Sanctuary!