THE call of the wild is the best way of describing a visit to Africa and its game reserves; it’s a call that leaves you wanting to come back again.
That’s the feeling of Lauren Vannoort and husband, Gareth who decided to make Africa an exciting way to honeymoon.
Lauren says it’s just so exciting to see the animals up close in their natural habitat. The thing to do is go on Safari and see the big five and they did, and even had a close-up encounter with the biggest of the five.
Arriving in Johannesburg, they spent two days touring the area and see its history. A visit to Johannesburg is not complete without going to Soweto, home of the shanty towns.
Lauren and Gareth were taken on a tour of the shanties where people live in houses put together from waste materials. They are very poor but despite this, the children have a smile for you and seem very interested as you pass by.
This area was home to Nelson Mandela, the man who brought the rainbow people together and ruled the nation after apartheid finished.
They saw the home of Nelsen Mandela, which is now a monument to his memory. They also visited the Apartheid Museum, highlighting the conditions blacks lived under when segregation forced them to use different entrances than whites and even banned blacks from certain areas. Lauren says it was so sad.
Time to go on Safari. The first stop was Kirman’s Kamp, a private game reserve attached to Kruger National Park.
They stayed for three nights getting up at 5:30am each morning to go on a game drive. It sounds early but Lauren and Gareth had no complaints. It was so exciting just seeing all the animals with both morning and evening game drives and yes they did see the big five, lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino.
One of their first encounters with a lion were two females and their cubs. There were eight cubs and they were hungry, keeping their mums very busy. What great photos.
Next, they moved on to Ngala, a tented camp but it was tented five stars. They were big tents with their own bathrooms and you even had a shower outdoors. The food was wonderful and they even had their own butler to serve them.
At Ngala, they went on more 4×4 game drives and on one of these they came face-to-face with an angry elephant.
They were driving down a dry riverbed and came across a group of elephants. Cameras out, they were getting some great shots and it was almost time to move on when a big male elephant stood right in front of their vehicle and he was not happy.
The elephant stated to sway from side to side and flap his ears; a definite sign all was not well. But the guides knew their stuff and would not show the elephant they were worried.
So the driver reeved the engine and started to slowly move the vehicle forward towards the giant animal. As they got closer the elephant gave in and moved to the side of the track. This wasn’t a time to hang around and so the 4×4 sped off leaving the elephant still swaying with ears flapping.
Lauren says it was an incredible experience and they have got the photos to prove it, but it hasn’t put them off, as Africa is such an incredible place.
Finally, they flew to Cape Town; a great place to visit with its Table Mountain, Fisherman Wharf and so many interesting things to do. Lauren recommends the hop-on-hop-off bus to tour the city, and you can also go out to the Cape of Good Hope.
Also, a must do is visit the wineries. They went to the Stellenbosch Winery, well worth the visit.
For Lauren and Gareth, it was time to return home to Australia but Africa has made its mark and they will just have to return one day.
Lauren and Gareth would like to thank Stacey Hodge of Escape Travel in Shepparton for arranging such a wonderful experience.
Until next time,