Sorry for the delay, no Internet in the area we were visiting. After finally getting to Jo´berg, spending the night we had a car pick us up at 6 am to start our drive to the Kruger National Park area. Went via Panoramic Route, stopping along the way at Blyde River Canyon (rivals the Grand Canyon – and yes, we´ll be uploading pictures so check those out) on to Bouke´s Luck Potholes, and God´s Window.
We didn´t get to these "sites" until after driving for 3 hours through the countryside. Our drive Pieter (Africaans spelling) was a retired police officer with lots of factoids to share and lots of opinions! 80% of the population is black, over 27% unemployment, main languages are Africaans, Zulu, then English. There were miles of rolling hills planted with maize; mining for copper, phosphates, and coal. The government has built small houses for very many people but they are located several miles outside of any town, too far to walk. so they have shuttle buses running routes up and down the main thoroughfares picking up people for 5 rand (less than a dollar but that is a lot of money when you earn 100 rand a month). And, shuttles are only able to cover a select route, meaning you have to change several times in the cities (we have to research the taxi wars that happened not too long ago).
Back to the sites – our guide would drop us off and give us a certain amount of time to see the sites or shop. Everywhere there were stands with locally made wares, from bracelets to 3 foot tall wooden giraffes to batique placemats. There are signs promoting the fact that these are sanctioned vendors, encouraging visitors to buy local handcrafts.
Finallz got to the Private Game Reserve at Timbavati (outside of Kruger National Park). KNP is over 2 million hectares, our reserve was about 70,000 hectares. As we pulled in the Royal Legend Lodge there was about 6 giraffes grazing the tree tops, boy were we excited to finally have arrived. The main entrance was a thatch roofed atrium area where we were received with cool clothes to wipe our faces and fresh fruit juice. Our friend Jan was the only other guest at the lodge. After dropping our bags in our indiviual "hut", we were whisked off to our first drive around the reserve. (our hut was a king sized bed surrounded by mosquito netting, bathroom with inside and outside showers, ceiling to floor windows overlooking the reserve, even the toilet looked out there. had a viewing deck too).
More about the drive later…..