Day 2 - Johannesburg to Guernsey - TIA (This Is Africa)
Sleep was amazing. I felt like I had been sleeping for hours, only to find it was 1:30 am in the morning. I was awoken by my sister, who I’m sharing the room with, using the bathroom. She tried so hard to keep the light to a minimum to not disturb me. To bad. The bathroom has a frosted transparent wall into the bedroom which lit up the room. No need to worry. After a bit we both fell back to sleep to await our 7:45 am alarm, we had set the night before.
Breakfast was at 9 am. We packed our bags and headed downstairs for our buffet breakfast.
Hardy buffet breakfast to start the holiday
The whole group meet in reception on-time at 10am to get into our minibus and head to Hoedspruit.
Our driver and guide for the 6-hour drive to Guernsey is Devon, the owners of the Ngama Luxury Tents we will be spending the next few days at.
With the road rule only treated as guidelines, we shoot down the highway at 120 km/h. The fastest I have seen a minibus go in a very long time. As we started our trip, everyone had questions to ask about the local area. "What's the building?", " Whats that body of water?"
But 40 minutes into the ride the minibus fell silent as all the questions had been asked. We all look out the windows in silence as we watch the bare empty burnt earth rushed past us.
With an unemployment rate around 30% the country is doing its best to create jobs. One of the initiatives is building housing for those who need it. The country is gradualy moving away from the makeshift slum that are being created out of the need to have a roof over ones head. Another is the idea of opening coal mines. With coal seams are similar to Australia, South Africa could stimulate the economy and create millions of jobs. But here lies the problem. Only in the recent past unions have protested and stopped work for 2 weeks losing billions of dollars for the industry. So any mining business looking to support the South African economy will see this as a too hard to deal with situation and move on to other opportunities.
The sky is very hazy. Much of the hazy is created from the controversial power plants which are built on the outskirts of the main Johannesburg district. The haze is also due to no strong winds to blow the smoke from control burning away.
If you’re looking for a great local snack to munch on while you driving for hours, try Beef Biltong. It’s like beef jerky, you can purchase it at any service station or local store.
Large rest top and petrol station.
2 hours in we stopped to stretch our legs, empty our bladders and purchase some food and drink - NikNaks, wine jellies and water. Our stop was only 10 minutes as lunch was only about 30 minutes down the road.
Lunch was in the small town of Dullstroom. A popular weekend travel location for local South Africans to travel to for a spot of Trout fishing.
Harrie's Pancakes & Delagoa Art & Crafts
We went into Harrie's Pancakes. A famous pancake restaurant in South Africa, much like Pancakes on the Rocks in Australia. We were about to purchase either sweet or savoury pancakes. I opted for the savoury option and ordered the creamy spinach and feta cheese. It wasn't the most fantastic pancake I've has, but it very much filled me up.
Spinach and Feta Cheese Pancake
Back on the road again. Devon has said we should arrive into Ngama approximately 4:30 pm so about another 2.5 hours to go.
The drive remained quiet. Many people listening to music or sleeping.
The sun still very high in the sky, boring heat through the bus windows. It felt like I was getting a tan on one side of my face.
The last 30 minute of the drive was off-road driving as we drove into the conservation area. We were very surprised to see so many animals. Elephants, Zebras, Giraffes so many animals welcoming us to South Africa. We haven't even been on our first safari yet.
Giraffe welcoming us to Africa
Hello big boy
Elephants enjoying the afternoon sun
We finally arrived at Ngama at 5pm.
The group stretching after being in the bus for a few hours
After our welcome iced tea, we sorted out our sleeping arrangements. There are 6 luxury tents. 3 with 2 single beds. 2 with queen beds and a family tent with 1 queen and 2 single bed.
The group enjoying their welcome drinks at Ngama Tented Safari Lodge
My sister and I were lucky enough to be given the family tent to share. The space with the tent is huge. Very open. Huge bathroom space featuring 2 showers. One within the bathroom and one outside, for those who want to enjoy the outdoors while getting clean.
With this tents being so remote it relies on its own energy and water source. So a septic tank it is. Drink the water provided and not out of the taps.
If you’re expecting to have fast 5G or NBN internet speeds to chat and upload your photos to social media, I’m sorry that’s not the case. The bush internet is very slow and patchy. It gets the best connection hanging out in the main lounge area.
We dropped our bags in our tents and got changed into something warmer and headed to the main lounge for a long-deserved drink with the group. The night air is still on the cool side. It was great to be able to relax under the starry night sky.
Dinner was called at 7:30pm. Located in its own space, a long table surrounded by gas lanterns next to a fire was our dining room. A really unique experience.
It was a buffet style. With coleslaw, sweet potato, vegetables, sausages, steak and chicken skewers on the menu.
Long group dinner table
Buffet camp fire dinner
Plated camp fire buffet dinner
After dinner, we jumped in the safari jeeps to headed out on our first night game drive at 8:30pm for an hour. The last time we were in South Africa and did a night game drive all we saw for an hour were shiny dots in the bushes. This time we saw lots of animals. Giraffes, zebra, porky pines, owl. An abundance of life, just within our game park area.
We returned from the game drive at 10pm. Perfect timing. I was already drifting off to sleep during the drive. Now it’s time to retire and enjoy our first night's sleep in our safari tents.
Accommodation: Ngama Lodge