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Day 2: Kapama River Lodge

5am wake-up calls.
Morning safari's.
Bush walks in the mid-morning.
More safari's in the afternoon...

This is what a full day at the lodge consists of. At the very least, Kapama staff keeps you busy and constantly on the go. Good or bad, they ensure you get a full experience while you're here. Even as I write this entry, my eyes are fighting to stay open,

But, I'm not complaining, my time here has been extraordinary. Yesterday, I went on an actual bush walk with our assigned ranger, Joe. Apparently, not all the rangers have the necessary skill set to lead expeditions on foot, there are perhaps 2 or 3 other rangers that can. So, in this case its a voluntary experience...

In hindsight, had I known what I was volunteering to do, I might not have been so quick to participate. It wasn't until our Ranger pulled out his rifle, and started loading it, when I realized that this isn't necessarily about fun and games. The risks and the potential rewards are extremely high. In the pics below, I've included the image of what we were tracking...a lioness (the image was from the safari drive earlier in the morning).

Thankfully, by the time we reached the spot where the lions were spotted, they had already departed. The walk to get there however, was the most intense, nerve racking, experiencing of my life. I didn't have the protection of a vehicle. There were all sorts of strange noises surrounding me. And, our ranger was carrying a loaded weapon... clear indication that something could try to eat me!

Walking through the bush, the first thing to hit you is the silence. There are no engines running, people talking, electrical devices, just you and the savanna (with man eating lions waiting to get you).

Perhaps as a way to break the tension, or just add to the experience, the Ranger would stop occasionally to show us something cool, like an African spider that lives in a hole in the ground, which also happens to be as large as a tarantula. Or, encouraged us to hold a millipede, which had to have been 6 to 8 inches long. And embarrassingly enough, had us participate in an Africaaner tradition, dung spitting (...please, don't ask). However, the most important bit was the crash course on what not to do if we encounter danger (for example, don't run from the danger, but feel free to scream).

After it is was all said and done, I survived the walk, didn't scream, and eagerly sat at the front of the jeep during the afternoon game drive.

Overall...I can't wait to do this again ;-)

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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 22:31 Comments (0)

Tinga - Safari and Lodge

After 2 days at Kapama, we moved on to Tinga. The transport there is a story unto itself (feel free to come by, we can chat over a glass of Amarula). Regardless, we arrived safely to a beautiful lodge, overlooking the Sabi river.

Similar to Kapama, this lodge is situated in the middle of a private game reserve. At any moment, whether you're walking to your room, or having a meal, you're sure to encounter wildlife. For example, one day, I watched as a family of monkey's steal a croissant off a plate... while the person was eating breakfast.

As far as the accommodations at Tinga... in a word, stunning. Just take a look at the pictures of the room, they speak for itself.

The safari's didn't reach the same level of excitement as Kapama. That said, our ranger and tracker were well informed, and didn't hesitate to show us the good with the bad as it relates to nature. One of the pics I included shows the end result of an elephant fight for dominance. I have to say, driving through the area and seeing the elephant lying there was pretty difficult. The smell alone was horrid. And, in case you are wondering what happened to the elephants face? It was removed to allow the rangers access to the tusks.

The meals at this lodge lacked any flair or excitement (unlike everywhere else we stayed). It was well balanced, but, kinda boring.

Alas, after 6 safari game drives, lots of food, and plenty of wine, its time to pack up and make the long journey home...

(One more update to follow...)
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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 10:31 Comments (0)

South Africa - Random Thoughts...

Its been 5 days since our return, and I can't stop thinking about South Africa.

I really, really wanna go back. There's sooooooo much more to see and do. I want to spend more time with the people, go into the townships, explore more of Cape Town...

Speaking of which, Cape Town is a first world city, with old world traditions just beneath the surface. Everyday life operates just as you would expect it to... if you were living in a tropical like setting...with exotic animals, and world wonder to wake up to every morning (ie. Table Mountain).

Regarding the people of SA, I can say that the black South Africans seem to be very curious about Tracy and I. Everywhere we went, we were constantly stared at. I wonder not so much why they stare, I want to know what they see...?

When opportunity allowed, I made sure to ask a lot of questions about life for blacks and whites alike. I think its pretty obvious that tension still exists there. Based on a convo I had with one of our drivers, prior to leaving, SA has a few generations to go before the affects of apartheid are felt less. Not to mention the added stress caused by the in-flux of immigrants from other nearby countries, looking for jobs (unemployment rate is about 25%!).

Any new travelers to this country will also notice the clear divide when it comes to who works where. Front line areas, (whether it be customer service, construction, agricultural), are black. Management positions appear to be held by white, or coloured people. I see very few black owners, or business people (but, I know they are out there). Bottom-line, prosperity is clearly limited to the minority race.

Being from Canada, you hear all sorts of stories about Africa, and I'm sure there's truth to some of them. But, one thing is for certain, if you don't give yourself a chance to experience this land and its people, firsthand, you'll never know truth from fiction.

...Until next trip!
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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 12:56 Comments (0)

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