I was on spring break last week, and I must say that it was a break well needed. IES Abroad took us to visit Kruger National Park and Johannesburg, a trip that lasted four days (Saturday, April 13th – Tuesday, April 16th). I also went on some other adventures, which I’ll detail in another post. But for now, let’s talk about Kruger National Park and Jo-Burg!
On Saturday at 6:45am, a van picked us up to take us to the airport so we could travel to Kruger. The flight was about two hours, which goes by fast. After we landed at the Kruger International Airport in Mpumalanga, we drove about 50 minutes to the actual Park and had lunch. Afterwards, we went on our first game drive. That day was eventful – we saw impalas (lots of them), elephants, zebras, giraffes, and more. We even saw a leopard! It was napping, so there wasn’t much action from it. However, it was nice that we saw it! Additionally, our tour guide was awesome! He was very knowledgeable of all the animals, and he made sure we had a great time.
After our first game drive, we drove to our lodge, which was about 20 minutes away, and had dinner. We all went to bed right after dinner, since our day started early.
Once again, our day started early. We had to be on our buses by 5:30am so that we could go on our second game drive. Apparently going on a drive this early is the best way to see the wildlife before they hide in the bushes from the blistering sun. We mostly saw the same animals as the day before, now including buffalos and rhinos. One thing to add was that it was chilly. Thankfully we were forewarned, and we brought some thick hoodies and jackets. That being said…we made it through!
After our early morning game drive, we returned to the lodge where we had a few hours to relax. We had lunch, and a few of us went to the pool to have some fun!
We then left again to go on our third game drive, which was to be in the late afternoon/evening. Night-time in the park opens the opportunity of seeing interesting nocturnal animals and increases our odds of seeing some big cats. Once again, the temperatures dropped again, but the safari was so cool! We saw some hyenas on the first half of the safari, up close and personal. They were some…let’s say, interesting looking animals, ha ha.
Once we were done with the first half of the safari, we went to have a bush braai dinner. It was honestly breathtaking. I was a little scared because we were literally having dinner in the middle of the park – animals could have come at any time. However, we were under the protection of our experienced park rangers!
The last half of the safari/on our way back to the lodge, we finally saw some lions! It was super dark, and although we had spotlights, it was kinda difficult to make out the two lions. Yet there were definitely there, chilling. We even heard them communicating with one another, which was amazing to witness in person!
Day 3 was pretty uneventful, due to the fact that we spent majority of the day transporting from Kruger to Johannesburg. However, before we hit the road to Jo-Burg, we stopped at the Kaapsche Hoop Town and had a morning hike and lunch! Right afterwards, we sat on a bus for around four hours as we headed to Johannesburg. We arrived there at around 6:30pm, and we then had dinner later and went to bed afterwards.
Our final day! We started the day a little later, but still pretty early. At 7:30am, we had breakfast and then headed out to drive to the Apartheid Museum! The Museum was lovely, yet stirred up many emotions – anger, pride, and sadness being the main ones. As an African-American, the apartheid reminds me so much of the Civil Rights Movement. Treatment towards Blacks were poor and most times inhumane. Although on different sides of the world, my fellow brothers and sisters had to fight for basic rights and respect, just as my ancestors did in the States. OVERALL – I believe the Apartheid Museum is a must visit for anyone who travels to Jo-Burg.
After visiting the Museum, we went to go have lunch at Sakhumzi Restaurant in Soweto Township. Sakhumzi was DELICIOUS, as it served authentic South African food such as pap, chakalaka, and different types of braaied meat. Sakhumzi is on Vilakazi Street, which is the only street in the world which has been home to two Nobel Peace prize winners – Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Consequently, it is a street with lots of tourism, vendors, and dancers that exhibits the true South African culture.
After eating at Sakhumzi, we walked down Vilakazi Street and did a brief tour of Nelson Mandela’s house, which is a small museum. It was actually pretty cool to see where the Mandelas actually lived during apartheid. The trip to his home also reminded me of the fact how great Nelson Mandela is, and how much he has contributed to the history and formation of South Africa.
If I were to rate my trip to Kruger/Jo-Burg, I would definitely give it a 10/10. It was an amazing trip and I learned so much! Now, stay on the look out for my post about the rest of my spring break experience!