Updated: Jan 24
Once in a life time trip, everyone says. I don’t believe that anymore, now I believe it is a trip you have to do many times. This trip was my first time going to the continent of Africa and this was my dream come true. We arrived in Johannesburg with a smile on our faces. We stayed in a hotel and we took a tour of the city and visited the township of Soweto.
We learned of the history, especially about Apartheid. Apartheid was a policy based on discrimination implemented from 1948 until 1994. Recently the country has desegregated, but you are still able to see the effects of this awful part of history.
After visiting the Apartheid Museum, we went to see the museum of Hector Pieterson in Soweto. Hector Pieterson was a young schoolboy who was killed during the Soweto uprising. Later we visited the houses located on the only street in the world where two nobel peace prize winners lived, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
We also entered a very poor area in Soweto and walked around. I felt safe the whole time I was there. We saw the school and their living conditions, which was different to what I was accustomed to. Their community is based in Ubuntu, which means "I am because we are".
To finish our tour of the city we saw the stadium where the final for the World Cup was held.
The very next day we woke up early and started our drive to Kruger Park from Johannesburg. As we drove we saw the different landscapes found in that area of the country. When we arrived in the park we all started to giggle with excitement. We stopped to take a picture of the first animal we spotted, an impala.
We kept on stopping to take pictures of every animal we saw on our way to our campsite. We saw so many animals, even rhinos! However, we couldn’t tell anyone where we saw rhinos because unfortunately there is still a problem with poachers on the park.
I kept on looking out the window and I continued to smile. With every animal we saw our excitement grew bigger. And just like that, suddenly we were next to the biggest land animal in the world, the African elephant. We were in awe of this creature. When we finally arrived at our campsite, Berg en Dal camp, we sat outside of a waterhole and waited to see more animals before we fell asleep.
A herd of buffalo showed up and we heard them all night stepping and drinking on the water. The next day with no complaints we all got up early and started our trip to see more animals. We drove the whole morning to reach another camp for lunch. We went to the Lower Sabie and I have not seen a place more beautiful in my life. A restaurant with a terrace facing a river flowing with all the wildlife you can imagine. That was our view while we ate. We saw elephants with their families and babies, that does something to your heart.
The next day we drove to another camp, a bushveld called Talamati. That night we took a safari, without jackets which was a mistake because it got extremely cold. We heard that the nightlife in Kruger is more active with predators and we were willing to stay awake to see them. We almost didn’t see many animals on our ride and we were freezing and struggling to keep our eyes open. We were very disappointed, however in one moment it all changed. My mom, who was looking for a rabbit who just cross the road, suddenly screamed "lion". We all went to her side and there it was, a male lion laying in the tall grass right next to the safari truck. We stayed there staring at the magnificent creature in the cold night. I think I forgot the feeling of being cold when I saw the lion. We all were glued to the sight of the lion. After it left, we all went back to our seats shivering with a smile frozen on our faces. We went back to sleep at our camp sadden to know that we were getting closer to our last day in Kruger.
The next day, we left the camp early and drove to Olifants camp, on our way we stopped in a lookout area where you could get out of the car. The scenery was amazing, with a view of Olifants river. When we arrived to Olifants camp we ate at the restaurant with a cliff view to the river where there were cute monkeys and hippos swimming and sleeping together. We drove back and stopped to see every animal we could. The next day we left Kruger and went to the airport to continue our amazing trip.
We took a plane to Port Elizabeth, the eastern cape of the country. When I arrived, I couldn’t but notice how similar it was to where I lived in Brazil. We walked around the small city, looking at the ocean. The following day we took a whale watching tour. We looked everywhere to spot a whale, my first time whale-watching. We saw seals waving their fins, dolphins jumping out of the water, and penguins on St Croix island. I was too busy looking everywhere and I did not get sea sick. Suddenly someone shouted "whale", everyone on board of the boat shifted to that side, then I saw it. We all watched the whale take a breath and go down and lift the tail. Their were all smiles on that boat as it went back to shore.
Our stay in Port Elizabeth was short and we accomplished one of our reasons to go to Africa, we raised money selling our art and gave it to an organization who will plant trees in a poor community and their school. The next day we headed out to Oudtshoorn. We saw the different environments of the capes as we drove to our next stop. When we arrived we went to an animal conservation center where we saw many other animals. This place has also a program to help the cheetah population increase and also to teach about lemurs. We were lucky to have an encounter with lemurs as we learned from this beautiful creatures and there needs. They were so cute and they even jumped on top of us.
After we left the conservation center we went to Cango caves. This was my first time in a cave and as we entered I felt the lack of oxygen as we went deeper into the cave. It was an amazing feeling to be able to see a cave. After the caves we went back to the hotel.
The next day we left to go to an elephant park, Addo Elephant National Park. On our way there we stopped at Tsitsikamma National park and saw for the first time a Dassie. We also visited Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
Every turn we made in Addo we saw an elephant. My sister was scared of the possibility of a fatal encounter with these beautiful giants, but it never occurred. I loved looking at the elephants so close, they even touched the car. We kept on seeing animals left and right and I was so happy through out this trip.
The house we stayed at the main camp had the greatest view, where we saw animals walking towards the water hole. Our time in South Africa had a great influence on me and persuaded me to come back to Africa one day. Every thing that we saw and experienced was completely amazing and hopefully more people can visit South Africa.
written by Diego