South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 3

Kosmos in Hartbeespoort (near Pretoria)

Saturday 15th March

Another day in paradise awaited us this morning as we again woke, refreshed and relaxed. After breakfast on the patio, we packed some provisions and took off in the car for a day out exploring some of the local attractions around the Hartbeespoort Dam. Our first stop was a cave labyrinth, which is open to the public. The caves that we visited are a small part of a wider World Heritage site, called The Cradle of Humankind, which encompasses several hundred square kilometres. Some of the earliest fossilised remains of early human ancestors are located at this site and are still being excavated to this day. Our guide took us through the underground caverns laden with stalagmites and stalactites. He also explained in great detail and with great pride all about the world famous fossils that were found there.

Our next stop for the day, to our surprise and delight, actually turned out to be our first safari in Africa. After a superb gourmet lunch at an idyllic setting with our restaurant table outside on the veranda overlooking one of the valleys that make up the Cradle landscape, we booked ourselves into what we thought would be an anthropological tour of some of the archaeological sites in and around the area. It turned out, however, to be a safari game tour instead. For two hours or so we drove slowly throughout the Cradle game park in a safari Jeep with 6 other people. We saw quite a bit of game including Giraffe, Buffalo, Impala, White Rhinos, Hyena, Wild Bore, Guinea Fowl, Zebra, Kudu and several other animal species that I’ve not heard of before.

The four of us chatted this evening about our plans for the coming weeks and months. I’m beginning to get the distinct impression that South Africa is a vastly easier place to navigate compared to some of the other countries that we are expecting to visit. We have a rental car and can go where and when we please. Car rental, it seems, is not nearly as viable in some of the places due to the very poor condition of the roads. This begs the question as to how we are going to navigate throughout the sub-continent as we travel slowly northwards. We don’t want to keep flying from A to B to C as this will be costly and we will, I’m sure, miss out on a lot. We ideally want to experience some of each country as best we can. The inability to easily get from one country to another, for example, is clearly going to clash with these plans. Our plans for South Africa, on the other hand, are starting to take more form. Monday morning we will be off to an early start with a 6-8 hour drive to Kruger National Park. Four nights in Kruger will be followed with a trip to Kwazulu Natal for some diving around the Sodwana Bay area and a visit to Mike’s parents. The next 10-12 days will be spent travelling in a South Westerly direction along the coast to the Garden Route and onwards to Cape Town. At this point, things become a little unclear. We want to go to Namibia to visit the Etosha National Park and then onto Botswana to see the Okavango Delta. We also want to visit Iris and her family in Gaborone. Iris is apparently planning a trip with us up north to a place somewhere between the Okavango Delta and Victoria falls, which would be our next destination. One idea is to fly to Namibia from Cape Town and then take in a 10-12 day pre-arranged safari tour before then flying on to Gaborone. Whether this is how things will pan out or not remains to be seen. We may visit a travel agent sometime during the next couple of weeks to get some advice. I think I’ll have closer at the ‘Getting Around’ section of my two-inch thick Lonely Planet Southern Africa guidebook for some inspiration.