Friday, January 30, 2009

Kruger Trip 2009

January 20th, 2009, we departed Cape Town for an eight-day holiday. Stop one was 1,400 kilometers away, two hours by air, the airport in Johannesburg where we rented a car for the drive east. Our first destination, stop two, was the town of Barberton, about 400km from Joburg. We spent two nights at the Mazwita Bush Camp, moving on across the border into the country of Swaziland, not a terribly long drive in length, but a bit dodgy due to road construction on the South Africa side and road quality on the Swazi side. Stop three was in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary where we spent two nights at Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge. Departing Swaziland by way of Jeppe’s Reef, we drove to stop four in Kruger National Park at the Biyamiti Bushveld Camp. Two nights at Biyamiti, then drove to stop five, the Shimuwini Bushveld Camp. Two nights then back to Joburg via Limpopo and Polokwane.

That’s the outline for the next series of journals from the other side (of the world). You have noticed that the schedule allowed two nights at each location. That fine bit of planning gave us an entire day to explore the particular area or rest up – this was a holiday.

Kurt is involved with some of the tourism planning for the 2010 World Cup in Nelspruit (near Kruger and Barberton) so is familiar with the area and has made contacts there. We stopped in Nelspruit to say hello and to stock up on enough provisions to cover us for the next few days, until we made it out of Swaziland and back into South Africa. Drinking water is not an issue in South Africa but we were not so sure about Swaziland. Since people are dying of cholera in the Limpopo area, near Zimbabwe, we played it safe and carried water.

Most of the South African electricity comes from coal-fired plants such as this one between Johannesburg and Nelspruit. The area is rich in coal and we saw many strip mines and processing facilities. Nuclear provides much of the power but more is needed and new plants take time to get online.

The area is also heavily mined for gold and diamonds. We didn’t get samples, but we did get pictures. More on that later.

It was a full day of travel. Also a day full of memories for us. Eight years ago, January 20, 2000, we were in Zimbabwe, sitting around a campfire, in the bush, with three well-educated Zim guides, being grilled on George Bush and his policies toward Africa. Eight years later the attitudes toward America and Americans is different ... and hopeful.

That’s enough for now.


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