Monday April 20, 2015 (Africa, South Africa)
So: no rhino spottings. But we did see a heck of a lot of other stuff! Vervet monkeys, cape buffalo up close, blesbok, springbok, black wildebeest, chacma baboons, and even a black backed jackal!
We awoke for a 7am breakfast this morning to try to get an early start departing from Cradock. We knew it was going to be a bit of a slog to drive all the way up to Bloemfontein, especially after doing a game drive in the morning. But this is what we’re here for – let’s make it happen!
The game drive went very smoothly. We were apparently the first ones into the park, and in general we saw almost no other vehicles the entire morning. We had some beautiful vistas over the karoo, and the animals were definitely plentiful.
The self-guided tour has its pluses and minuses. It’s nice that if you see something that interests you, you can just stop and stay as long as you’d like. However, you’re not necessarily aware of the spots that animals tend to be, and you may not be able to spot them as well as a trained pro.
We asked at the park reception if they could give us any tips about where we might spot some rhinos. No love. The poaching problems are so bad that they won’t tell you anything about where to look for them – only that they do in fact exist in the park. There are also two male lions in the park that we didn’t manage to spot, and some cheetahs too. So a bit unlucky in terms of the big-name game, but we still had a great time.
A highlight was definitely a group of three cape buffalo that just wandered around our vehicle and crossed the road several times. They’re so massive that when they decide they’d like to move forward, they will simply mash any foliage in their way. Why go around a tree when you can just shatter it?
After the game drive we stopped quickly back in Cradock and ate a fast food meal at our new favourite place: Steers! It’s just your typical burger joint, really, except the staff actually deliver the meals to your table. Classy! Sandra likes the chicken salad, and everybody else enjoys the burgers and fries. They’re always playing rugby on the TVs, too, so that’s a bonus. Oh, and the sundaes are great! We tried McDonald’s soft serve here in South Africa and the ice cream tasted really bland. Not so at Steers – it’s creamy and delicious!
After our bite to eat it was effectively a straight-shot drive to Bloemfontein. We caught a nice sunset along the way.
Tomorrow we’re going to try to cross the border into Lesotho. Just to say we did it! And then it’s onward to the Drakensbergs. Looking forward to it!