Our Opel Zafira mini-van was delivered on time this morning, although the paperwork and rental details were grossly out of order. Renting cars can be a real challenge when you don’t know the type of car you will end up with. The agents start spewing out car name after car name as they take you through the different classes, all names and styles we have no clue about. What is a Toyota Condor? An Opel Zafira? Will that work? Who knows?!?!? In the end the one we chose worked out fine. We dropped the back two seats (three rows) and loaded one side with our backpacks and the other side with $300 worth of groceries, all requiring no refrigeration, for a week of meals.
The highways here in South Africa are world class, though the tolls make using them expensive. We rocketed north out of town at 120km/h (75mph) with the guides telling us that it would take over six hours to reach the northern entry to Kruger National Park. No way, we cut almost two hours off that time. The land coming out of town was very flat and brown. This is the dry season and there has been no rain in months. Nevertheless, the scenery was beautiful. As we got further north we started to enter rolling hills with larger mountains on the horizon.
Along the way we crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn. We had to pull off and take a picture of the imaginary line. One of those been there done that moments.
Our week in Kruger begins in the far north near the Zimbabwe and Mozambique border, in an area of South Africa known as the Limpopo region (after the major river separating Zimbabwe and South Africa). Most visitors to the park never get close to this far north, which is exactly why we headed there first. The park is almost 400 miles long north to south and the climate and landscape changes tremendously in those miles. Our goal is to see it all. In order to make that happen we drove up today to stay just outside the gate so on our first official day, we can enter the park in the morning and get at it.
We stayed at a clean little hotel in a small town about 50 miles outside the gate (the closest you can get) and soon thereafter headed to the local casino hotel (not sure why/how it was built here) for dinner. We came back to the hotel to a blackout. Seems the whole area lost electricity. No electricity meant no running water, as they used generators for that too. As soon as we were done taking sponge baths by candle-light, the lights came back on. Go figure. Lights were out again at 9pm, our choice this time, with visions of lions and zebra in our heads.
Tags: Down time, Johannesburg, Kruger, Pretoria, South Africa, Travel