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Kruger National Park

November 26, 2016

Sitting peacefully under a marula tree, sipping my morning coffee which, by the way, elephants go mad about (marula not coffee), an elderly white South African woman hobbled by and said “it’s a great life, as long as you don’t weaken’.


                Trying to figure out what this elderly woman meant by her saying

I let her walk by without hardly a response but letting my precious coffee get cold I mused on that comment until she hobbled by in the opposite direction and I asked her ‘what do you mean by the expression you used?” Her only reply was “it’s an old South African expression”. Well that left me very bewildered and I went off in the other direction to talk to someone with a great looking South African camping trailer.

So, that’s sums up our visit to Kruger. Actually, no that’s not true.

We made a mad dash up to Kruger taking the train from Cape Town to Johannesburg ($65pp- including a private sleeper for 2 people and a 26 hour train ride).


Connie, never a happy train traveller, gazing out the window at the start of the train from Cape Town to Johannesburg

At least Connie has decided to relax when we see we have the whole cabin to ourselves. But then we got move to a 4 person cabin but luckily has that to ourselves

At least Connie has decided to relax when we see we have the whole cabin to ourselves. But then we got move to a 4 person cabin but luckily has that to ourselves

We packed our cooler with food but did have dinner in the dining car while the train rattled, rocked and rolled across the Karoo and up to the Johannesburg plateau – 1753 metres above sea level. Connie is not the most gracious train traveller so I had only booked a one way ticket without thinking how we were going to return!

Disembarking 4 hours late left us little time to get out-of-town in our dinky-toy of a car, a Chev Spark. Great on gas mileage but I suspect that’s because you have to get out on the hills and push it up. Thank god Kruger is at almost the same elevation above sea level as Johannesburg. Even I can’t complain though of a car that uses 4.5lites/100km.

Does this all sound like I am trying to do this trip on the cheap?

We managed to get out-of-town far enough to find very reasonable accommodation (cheap?) in Middleburg. Before we arrived though the skies darkened, the rain pelted down and we put the duck boards into the car and floated to a hotel found on the internet 10km before arrival. It was dark. We couldn’t see anything. Our trustworthy google maps app guided us into a docking space and yes, there was room for the night.

Little did we realise until the following morning that Middleburg, which, in daylight we were saying was a lovely looking quiet town, was embroiled on the national news with a very strange story. Contrast the previous link’s to this one and you get an idea of South Africa’s dilemma.

Such is South Africa for which I could go on ad nauseam about but love.

We treated ourselves to a self contained rondaval in Skukuza which is one of about four base camps set inside the park and very well run by the South African National Parks.

Nowhere are visitors gouged at the till for supplies. Each of the base camps has a store for more than basic supplies. Each base camp has a restaurant of more than average quality and a wine selection that makes me dr00l.

A gruelling schedule was de riguer. Up at 0500hrs, make tea, jump in the car and spend the next 3 hours looking for animals and then a stop at a rest camp for coffee and a small breakfast of yoghurt and fruit.


Always need a translator in South Africa as the only people who speak the Queen’s                                              English are the transient Zimbabwe workers!

Then back into the car for another 4 hours of animal hunting then a packed lunch. Then back home to a bottle of wine. All in all we probably only drove less than 100km/day. Drive slow and see more animals. Be patient – aaaargh!

Here are a few of the animals and birds we saw (click on any photo to enlarge):





10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2016 14:50

    A great life if you don’t weaken (Then the predators get you)
    Youth is wasted on the young
    This getting old will be the death of me… All expressions I hear regularly and I’m beginning to understand them all.

    Remember the moment is all you have, not even the day. Even Castro didn’t get out of the game alive.

    Great photos! Thanks so much. Fred

  2. Dina Winkel permalink
    November 26, 2016 14:54

    Wowwww!!! Thank you for posting all these AMAZING pictures, there’s hope, animals are alive and well in our world. Love hearing about your exciting life, staying strong and thrifty 😉
    Kruger is a place we’ve heard about from a few friends, would love to make it down there one of these years.

  3. Sue Donaldson permalink
    November 26, 2016 18:04

    Super nice pix of the fauna! Re the contrast story links you note about SA, however, I don’t see the contrast in those two stories, they both just seem to reinforce the colonized privilege of white supremacy that has continued endemic in SA since the end of the apartheid govt–not a great legacy to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission 1996-98 there.

  4. Wayno permalink
    November 26, 2016 21:21

    That older lady was reminding you not to surrender to lethargy. Go hard at it, don’t lighten up, be busy and always enjoy life moment to moment. Nice pics! My favourite was them all.

  5. Darrel and Loretta Smith permalink
    November 26, 2016 23:29

    Thanks for the post, you have some great photos.

    We are flying into Johannesburg to do the Kruger Park safari and plan on spending a few days exploring Johannesburg while there. We have had mixed reviews about the safety in Johannesburg. What is your take on it? Do you have any tips for us regarding safety other than the obvious, e.g. don’t look like a tourist – better to look like a cruiser.

    We are taking the train to East London or Port Elizabeth and then will drive the Garden Route to CT. Perhaps that is an option for you to avoid having to cuff and blindfold Connie to get her back on the train.

    Continue having fun you two.

    Darrel and Loretta

    • Angela Smith permalink
      November 27, 2016 15:50

      Dear Darrel & Loretta,
      If you need any information on your travels, “What too see and what not too see” pop me an email. I will assist best I can.

  6. Annie Boldt permalink
    November 26, 2016 23:54

    “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken “is also a Canadianism and I have heard it many times mostly from ailing seniors at the clinic.
    Basically it means’ life is good if you are strong ( healthy)’.
    Was the old lady frail looking?

    What’s with Connie and trains? We love train travel and have talked about taking the Trans Siberian railroad trip but we have heard it is BORING.

    When are you leaving port?
    We leave Vic on the 6am Westjet direct from Vic to PV next Saturday.
    Yahoo… no wildlife on our trip… just me .ha, ha. Am I allowed to say that Tony?

    Annie B.

  7. Toby permalink
    November 28, 2016 07:00

    Lovely photos of the game in the Kruger. What’s wrong with the train, Connie? Can’t spot what’s troubling you!

    Check out this link, it will give some insight to the “great life if you don’t weaken”:–If-you-don-t-weaken–.aspx

    We hope to see you again somewhen somewhere in the world,

    Happy sailing and safe passage to the Caribbean
    Toby & Verena

    ´¯`•.¸. , . .•´¯`•.. >`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸.•´¯`•…¸>

  8. November 29, 2016 03:49

    Yes, don’t weaken mon! ;-} Looks like lots of fun!

    • November 29, 2016 03:51

      Yes, don’t weaken mon! ;-} Looks like lots of fun! That was me above, somehow posted under my grandson’s account. ;-}

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