Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Thoughts on our South africa trip

We booked the trip with Gate 1 because they had offered a groupon and reviews on the internet seemed OK. I would use them again. There are the obvious disadvantages of group travel; being herded from one thing to the next, having to stay as a group, having to compromise (not get enough time at the things I want and too much time at the things I don't) and the occasional annoying person, but overall it was a good experience and we traveled with some lovely people. Our primary reason for taking a group booking was safety and we did at all times feel safe and could see that on our own it would have been riskier. Gate 1's itinerary was extensive and varied. The tour manager, Renier, was excellent. The bus and hotels were all first class and had great food and amenities

Chris and I were labelled the "Safari Junkies" because we just could not get enough of  seeing these exotic (for us) animals in their own environment. They are animals I love to see at the zoo but even more so when they have the space and climate to be totally natural. We are both planning how we can go again.

South Africa has so many contrasts. The huge modern cities with industries and skyscrapers and the mud and thatched huts with goats, chickens and cattle. The rich behind their self built prison walls and the millions of poor in their squatter townships. The gentleman who drove Chris and I to our last safari was happy to chat about his life. He saved 6 years for his wife's "bride price". He had the cows to pay for her but she was from a nearby country and he couldn't drive his cattle across the border, so had to pay her father for her in US dollars. He still has the cows, in his "home village", as a status symbol, but he and his wife live in an apartment in downtown Johannesburg and he drives tourists and business people for a living in a sleek BMW. He doesn't currently plan on getting another wife, "they're expensive, and we want to buy a house".

Democracy and human rights are relatively new concepts for the country and its people and they struggle with poor education, poverty, high unemployment, racism, corrupt politicians and lack of control over their rich natural resources. The rely heavily on tourism.

A final note on the Big Five. We saw them all but I have posted no pictures of the Rhinos. We were asked on the game drive when we first saw Rhinos to refrain from posting the pictures on social media as the poachers (that kill 2 Rhinos a day in South Africa) monitor it for hints as to where to go. It was mentioned that my camera might have a GPS locator so I haven't posted any pictures in case the picture files could be used to locate them. Elephants and Rhinos are killed extensively for their tusks. One game guide said we may be the last generation to see them in the wild.

I am going to finish my South Africa blog posts with pictures of monkeys that Christine took on our last day. They were hanging out in the trees near the parking lot where we finished our game drive;

Siesta time.

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