• Nick

Waiting for Brenda

Considerable thought and planning before we left meant that Brenda would arrive in South Africa 3 days before us, allowing her to be collected and cleared by customs so that we could arrive on the 28th Oct and collect her on the 29th Oct ready to start our adventure. Today it’s the 18th November and we are still waiting, although (as usual) we’re hoping to collect her tomorrow….

However, not to be servants of the global shipping crisis or Covid-19, we hired a car and got on with a bit of exploring while waiting for Brenda. Our trusty stead for this adlib adventure was a Toyota Corolla; a crappy piece of suburban misery that grounds out on all but the mildest speed bumps, and is the least practical vehicle for driving on South African’s extensive network of dirt roads.

Sammy and Jack by waterfall

After a few days in a very fancy (by our standards) resort in Umhlanga Rocks we were beginning to feel a bit pampered so headed down the coast a few hundred km’s to Ramsgate which felt slightly more African than the Ramsgate back home. However, a trip out to the Oribi Gorge and Umtamvuna Nature Reserve blew away the cobwebs and we finally started to feel like we were back in the wilds of Africa.

Leaving Ramsgate we headed north past Durban and up the coast to St Lucia (not that St Lucia) where we were harassed by neither snakes nor hippos despite the promises of the Airbnb host. Disappointed by the lack of action we headed to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve where we did get harassed mercilessly by the Vervet monkeys, a few of whom broke into our bathroom, smashed up the place pretty good and poo’ed on the floor in a blazon act of defiance.

Dinner outside the safari tent

It was at Hluhluwe-iMofozi that the boys experienced the magic of an African game drive for the first time; the sound of the Toyota Corolla grounding out, the arguing over the only pair of binos (the other pair were lost at this point), the inevitable “I need the toilet”, and some of the most amazing animals Africa has to offer. The population of rhino in Hluhluwe is, I believe, the densest in the world, and after the 20th or 30th sighting, these awesome creatures were still invoking a sense of wonder. Given the problems with poaching in Africa both historic and ongoing, it’s a relief that they are thriving at Hluhluwe at least. The highlight of HluHluwe was seeing a pack of African wild dogs at sunset - a very rare and special moment. The close second highlight of Hulhulwe was watching the boys stalk a warthog near to the tent and dying of laughter as they got too close and were fake charged by the warthog. Unfortunately, we missed capturing the moment on film by only a few seconds.

Sammy and Jack watching Warthogs


Sammys birthday cake

Sadly, the monkeys there really are a problem, and as nice as it was staying at Hluhluwe it was a relief to leave and head to a lovely little homestead nearby for a few days of relaxing, celebrating Sammy’s birthday, catching up on internet jobs for the first time since we got to Africa and finding what must be the world’s largest spider.

The final stop on our pre-Brenda adventure was Cape Vidal, a beautiful national park on the coast, where the warm Indian ocean creates (apparently) some of the best snorkelling on the continent, or at least it would, if only the wind wasn’t blowing at 300 km/h, the waves were less than a head high shorebreak, and the world’s tiniest reef wasn’t located next to the fisherman’s boat launch……

Cape Vidal Sunset

Still, it’s been a brilliant 3 weeks, and a great start to what is going to be a fantastic 7 months in Africa. It’s great to be back.

We’re in Durban again now, and the plan for the next few weeks, assuming that Brenda ever gets here, is to head back up north to Kosi Bay, then into Eswatini (Swaziland) for a few weeks, than over to the Drakensburg for Christmas.

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