Graptolite is at 36:49.20N 028:18.56E in Turkey and the skipper is in
>From Bulawayo there was more driving through Matabeleland to Beitbridge
and the chaotic border crossing into South Africa.
Over the border we drove through a baobab-tree-covered landscape to the
northernmost gate of the Kruger National Park. We had to be at the Punda
Maria Camp before 18:00 as they close the camp gates then. There are few
petrol stations in the area and we almost ran out of petrol on the way. We
had petrol in jerrycans but had to illegally get out of the car to refuel
at the side of the road in dangerous lion country. We saw no lions but
there was a hungry-looking wild dog on the road ahead. We made it to the
camp as they were closing the gates. They don`t lock you out but there are
fines involved and we had had enough of fines recently.
>From Punda Maria Camp we drove south stopping at Mopani Camp for lunch
just south of the Tropic of Capricorn overlooking the Tsendze River. Then
it was on to the Olifants River and the Olifants Camp with another
excellent river view with a campfire to watch the sunset. All the
buildings in the camp are thatched but they don`t seem to fret too much
about it all going up in flames.
We watched the sun rise over Mozambique then it was another wildlife
spotting drive through the park to Satara Camp with the first rhino plus
baby rhino and spotted hyena plus baby hyena sightings. We barbecued (or
braaied) some bleasbock outside another thatched bungalow.
On our third day driving in the Kruger Park we stopped at Tshokwara for
breakfast under a giant sausage tree (Afikanischer Leberwurstbaum auf
Deutch) and had the Full South African of kuduwors, pap and sheba
(antelope sausage, wallpaper paste and tomato salsa). We called into
Skukuza Camp briefly then left park through the Paul Kruger Gate. We took
an interesting drive on a terrible road through rural Africa reaching
Kapama Game Reserve in time for afternoon tea. Timing wasn`t really an
issue though as we were the only guests in the lodge and considerably
outnumbered by our personal staff of bearers, trackers, game wardens and
The evening`s game drive, just for us, with Wesley and Britt, the
Afrikaner game wardens and the native tracker, Derek, turned up three lion
cubs, two lionesses and two rhino. The night sky was very clear and our
old Pacific friend, the Southern Cross, was there.
This day was something of a mystery tour for me, probably as it was my
birthday and Heike likes to give surprises. We were up very early, or
quite late depending on how you look at it and on what seemed to be
another game drive but I was beginning to suspect something when we
switched from the safari truck to a car at the gate. The car took us to a
grapefruit orchard where a big round yellow thing was growing. I
recognized it as a hot-air balloon straight away, having been in one just
After the balloon safari, it was back to the Kapami Lodge for breakfast,
then a little nap then lunch and a birthday cake for me. Then another
little nap (we were up very early) and then it was time for another
evening game drive. Or so I thought. It started off well when we saw a
male lion waking up from a sleep. It`s a tough life in the African bush.
Wesley then seemed to drive forever down smaller and smaller tracks. There
in front of us was a four-poster bed with a mosquito net. I was handed a
radio for ´just in case` and we were left there with the sun going down
and roaring coming from the trees. Surprise, surprise, Martyn. There were
hurricane lanterns and a cooler full of wine so it was not too bad. A chef
called Emanuel turned up later and cooked dinner for us then left. How
surreal is that? Dinner was carpaccio of springbok and some fish followed
by amarula pannacotta.
Wesley turned up as the sun was rising and we were off driving through the
bush again on what I thought was yet another game drive. Suddenly lined up
in front of us were eighteen African elephants all with African riders. We
had arrived at the Jabulani Camp for an elephant-back safari. Surprise,
surprise, again. We lumbered through the bush for a couple of hours
ripping up trees as went along and looking at the animals. I had the
biggest and baddest elephant that used whole trees for toothpicks. Then it
was back to the Kapami Lodge for breakfast then on the road again back
into the Kruger Park.
We took a look at the hippos at Lower Sabie Camp then went on to
Berg-en-Dal Camp where we barbecued some kudu for dinner. As one does.
In the morning we had a monkey sneak into our bungalow to breakfast on
some packets of sugar. Our breakfast was eggs and bacon. We then left
Kruger Park through the Malelane Gate. Kruger Park is about the same size
as Israel so, who knows, we may have missed a few critters on the way.
>From Kruger Park we drove west into the Transvaal Drakensberg mountains
going over the Great Escarpment and on to the High Veldt. The Escarpment
is cut through by rivers with big waterfalls and canyons. We took a look
at MacMac Falls and the Blyde River Canyon on the way to the historic gold
mining town of Pilgrim`s Rest. Overnight it was a stay in a nice hotel in
the town of Dullstroom.
>From Dullstroom, it was a drive to Johannesburg to return our 4WD. We had
driven over 5,500 kilometres over some rough country and slept in a
different bed every night for 19 nights and I for one wasn`t sorry to
We had arranged to meet our old Boer Pacific sailing friend , Gerrie
Boshoff, for a beer before flying out but as it turned out, European
airspace was closed due to an Icelandic volcano and the flight was
cancelled. It now looked liked we could stay a bit longer. Gerrie kindly
showed us around Pretoria and the Voortrekker Monument and some pre-World
Cup preparations in Johannesburg then we stayed the night at his home on
the Vaal River in Vanderbijlpark. Gerrie also invited his friend Reetha
over for drinks and I had an audience for a slideshow of what I did on my
It now looked like a serious extension to our vacation was becoming
inevitable so we returned to Johannesburg and caught a flight to Cape