Kruger Safari and the Panoramic Route

After a quick visit to my village and a massive roadtrip that ended in a terrifyingly potholed road at night with semi trucks, we rolled in Lydenburg exhausted and found our guest house relatively easily, the Aqua Terra Guest House. We grabbed dinner at Spur, which cracked Dad up with its Native American themed décor, then fell asleep in our very comfortable beds. The next morning we took a walk by the “river”, had a delicious breakfast at the guest house, then headed off along the Panoramic Route to Hoedspruit.

Along the way I learned how to drive a manual in the mountains by driving through the Long Tom Pass, and we stopped for a bit at Pilgrim’s Rest and the Mac Mac Pools. Pilgrim’s Rest is a town that is probably like Williamsburg in the States. We found lots of traditional craft shops alongside the stores and museum related to the Afrikaner pilgrims who usesd to live there. The Mac Mac pools was a small waterfall with a few pretty pools set in a plateau in the mountains. Lots of people were there, including some families who came to swim. However, it wasn’t overly tourist, and when we set off along the walking trail, we saw absolutely nobody, which was peaceful.

We managed not to get horribly lost, despite the confusing signs which sparsely dot the mountainside. We had wanted to see Jessica the Hippo that night, but arrived too late. We stayed at the Loerie Guest House in Hoedspruit, which had nice rooms but not much else going for it. I arranged with the owner to be let out very early the next morning for our safari in Kruger…

…to no avail. The next morning, we stood at the gate at 5am and were stuck for almost half an hour behind the locked gate. We finally got out and had about a 45 minute drive to the Orpen Gate at Kruger. We arrived soon after 6am and began our safari!

Now, Kruger is HUGE. I mean, it’s bigger than some states. One day in Kruger really isn’t enough, and it’s certainly impossible to see the whole park in one day. Heck, I think it’s impossible to see it in a week. We were in the park essentially from opening to closing, and only drove through a few roads. But we had a blast and saw many animals.

I had previously been on a safari in Pilanesburg, so I had seen most of the animals before, but I also saw some new things. We saw wildebeests/gnu, a hyena, guinea fowl aplenty, giraffes, zebras, impalas, massive spiders, warthogs, monkeys, snakes, kudu, waterbucks, hippos, tortoises, a chameleon, buffalos, vultures, elephants, rhinos, vervet monkeys, bush babies, termites, and even a creepy cricket that flew in my window and hit me in the face. We didn’t see any cats, but the herd of 20+ elephants was amazing. And we even got terrifyingly close to a few different elephants.

By the end of the day, we were absolutely exhausted and stopped at a roadside bar and grill for burgers. We basically strolled into Hoedspruit after dark and went to bed. It was a full and amazing day of safari!

I’ll post photos later on, promise.
-Jen

Advertisements

Kruger Safari and the Panoramic Route

After a quick visit to my village and a massive roadtrip that ended in a terrifyingly potholed road at night with semi trucks, we rolled in Lydenburg exhausted and found our guest house relatively easily, the Aqua Terra Guest House. We grabbed dinner at Spur, which cracked Dad up with its Native American themed décor, then fell asleep in our very comfortable beds. The next morning we took a walk by the “river”, had a delicious breakfast at the guest house, then headed off along the Panoramic Route to Hoedspruit.

Along the way I learned how to drive a manual in the mountains by driving through the Long Tom Pass, and we stopped for a bit at Pilgrim’s Rest and the Mac Mac Pools. Pilgrim’s Rest is a town that is probably like Williamsburg in the States. We found lots of traditional craft shops alongside the stores and museum related to the Afrikaner pilgrims who usesd to live there. The Mac Mac pools was a small waterfall with a few pretty pools set in a plateau in the mountains. Lots of people were there, including some families who came to swim. However, it wasn’t overly tourist, and when we set off along the walking trail, we saw absolutely nobody, which was peaceful.

We managed not to get horribly lost, despite the confusing signs which sparsely dot the mountainside. We had wanted to see Jessica the Hippo that night, but arrived too late. We stayed at the Loerie Guest House in Hoedspruit, which had nice rooms but not much else going for it. I arranged with the owner to be let out very early the next morning for our safari in Kruger…

…to no avail. The next morning, we stood at the gate at 5am and were stuck for almost half an hour behind the locked gate. We finally got out and had about a 45 minute drive to the Orpen Gate at Kruger. We arrived soon after 6am and began our safari!

Now, Kruger is HUGE. I mean, it’s bigger than some states. One day in Kruger really isn’t enough, and it’s certainly impossible to see the whole park in one day. Heck, I think it’s impossible to see it in a week. We were in the park essentially from opening to closing, and only drove through a few roads. But we had a blast and saw many animals.

I had previously been on a safari in Pilanesburg, so I had seen most of the animals before, but I also saw some new things. We saw wildebeests/gnu, a hyena, guinea fowl aplenty, giraffes, zebras, impalas, massive spiders, warthogs, monkeys, snakes, kudu, waterbucks, hippos, tortoises, a chameleon, buffalos, vultures, elephants, rhinos, vervet monkeys, bush babies, termites, and even a creepy cricket that flew in my window and hit me in the face. We didn’t see any cats, but the herd of 20+ elephants was amazing. And we even got terrifyingly close to a few different elephants.

By the end of the day, we were absolutely exhausted and stopped at a roadside bar and grill for burgers. We basically strolled into Hoedspruit after dark and went to bed. It was a full and amazing day of safari!

I’ll post photos later on, promise.
-Jen

Week in Photos (04/11-10/11)

Keamogetse and Rorisang, part of my host family.

Keamogetse and Rorisang, part of my host family.

Here are some pictures from the last week….more sunsets, cute kids, and garden photos…PC at a glance, for me!
-Jen

Construction in the staffroom means we have to move EVERYTHING out....

Construction in the staffroom means we have to move EVERYTHING out….

...so in typical South African fashion, we make the kids do all the work.

…so in typical South African fashion, we make the kids do all the work.

And this is the mess after we moved everything, which i volunteered to organize.

And this is the mess after we moved everything, which i volunteered to organize.

The bus that visits my village....posh corps? Hmmm.....I think not.

The bus that visits my village….posh corps? Hmmm…..I think not.

Puffy white cloudy sky as I wait for transport under a tree.

Puffy white cloudy sky as I wait for transport under a tree.

Beetroot!! Look at how big they are! our garden is thriving!

Beetroot!! Look at how big they are! our garden is thriving!

The sunset reflecting off a rainshower....pretty, right?

The sunset reflecting off a rainshower….pretty, right?

Sunday Afternoon Craft

Yesterday, after working up a sweat rearranging my room, I was frustrated with a stack of magazines that had been sitting in my room for the past year. The previous PCV left them for me, but I had scarcely used them in the past year, and was wondering how best to get rid of them. I couldn’t really take them to school because they discuss controversial topics with sometimes inappropriate headings or photos for schoolchildren (all politico magazines) and they had few pictures to use as collage. So I shoved them back in their spot and mumbled grumpily.

A little bit later, I stumbled upon this article( http://earth911.com/news/2011/12/06/10-funky-ways-to-reuse-old-magazines/ ) about using old magazines, and decided I would do one of the crafts that afternoon! I looked at the tutorial on making a bowl, and decided I would attempt to make a hot pad, so I could set my pots down on it without burning my table. Though it was time intensive, it was EASY! I ended up making a hot pad AND a bowl in about four hours, while watching a TV show. And it was even fun.

I followed the tutorial given on the website mentioned above, and found it to work wonderfully. I used stick glue, which ended up holding well and my new bowl and hot pad are very sturdy. You only need a magazine, some glue, scissors, and patience. You tear a piece of paper out of the magazine, and fold it in half four times, longways, until it’s about .5 inch wide. Then you start rolling it up. I made a small adaptation from the tutorial, to make the rolling easier at the beginning. I cut the pages in half longways, for the first few pages, then folded them 3 times longways, just to make it easy to roll up in the very beginning. As the base reaches about one inch wide, you can stop cutting the pages in half.

The bowl is a little rough, but I’m sure the next one I make will be much better. I’m thinking a need a fruit bowl, as the fig, apricot, peach, and grapes will be growing in the yard soon enough!
-Jen

The start of the hot pad-and the most difficult part!

The start of the hot pad-and the most difficult part!

The colorful finished product!

The colorful finished product!

Starting to build up the sides of the bowl-not as hard as it looks.

Starting to build up the sides of the bowl-not as hard as it looks.

Done!!

Done!!

An American Welcome

One of the best parts about coming home was getting to see the dogs for the first time in a year. Here’s a video Dad took of the dogs greeting me when I got home.  Jaxson got a little too personal.  I have missed my doggies soooo much, so I am very happy to spend a few weeks with the crazy animals.

Here’s the link on YouTube.  Enjoy!

-Jen