Taking the Kids to Kruger – Getting There

23 March 2012 – First leg of the journey

Everything is packed and ready.   Wednesday, fortunately was a public holiday and this it the day I used to get completely organised for our trip to Kruger National Park with our four grandchildren.   I kept Jay and Joshua out of school so that they could help Earl pack the car but I had to be at my school until 12.   I dismissed my Grade 1s at 11, waited 20 minutes for tardy parents to collect the stragglers and then went to the staffroom for the farewell meeting.   My DVD player was illegally removed from my classroom yesterday and my colleague had a similar experience so things concerning that had to be dealt with too.  Once they’d located a key for my door I was able to sprint home – just 2 minutes down the road.   It was 12:15 when we pulled out of the driveway and the first leg of our trip began.

It was a relatively easy drive and we only stopped to refuel and visit the loo.  The boys thought it hilarious that I had to go at every stop!    We finally arrived at Oudtshoorn at 6 p.m., found a St Elmos and ordered take away pizzas for supper.

Our accommodation was lovely.  We had a plunge pool and a view overlooking the Swartburg valley and sat and enjoyed our supper in this wonderful setting.   Earl, gave Gert, our host a red fish which he was too delighted to accept.

We were in bed before 8 and it wasn’t long before we were all fast asleep – at least Earl and I were – the boys were in a separate section and who knows what they got up to.

24 March 2012 – Oudtshoorn to Kokstad

I woke up at 3:30 although my alarm was set for 4.  I got up and had a bath then woke the boys.  The car was packed and were on the road by 4:15a.m.   There were stop/goes on the way but as we were early we got through them with no delays.   We were expecting hot weather but it rained most of the way – there’s a leak from the right rear door and we had to stop it with rolled up newspaper.

Once again we had little traffic and besides having to avoid potholes from time to time we had a pleasant journey.   We stopped for breakfast at  our usual “huis restaurant’ in Steynsburg.   The eggs and bacon were good but the coffee left lots be desired – too weak.

Kokstad was cold and wet and I was still dressed in a sleeveless black dress!   But it was great to finally get there at 4 p.m.  The kids were very excited to see us and Shannon brought out her Kruger for Kids birdbook and showed me how many birds she now knows!

The MacKenzies popped in to see us at 6 and we finally sat down to a supper of butternut soup and rolls at 7:30.   Bed called us before 9.

25 March 2012 – Kokstad

It was a day to chill.  It was still cool but somewhat better than yesterday.   Earl and I went to the shops with Lauren.  I bought a pair of shoes and we tried to find takkies for the boys without success.   We went to Wimpy for coffee and muffins and then back to chill at home.   On the way we stopped at The Bakers to pick up the Weber (kettle braai)   There were lots of Amur falcons about and we were delighted to see two wattled crane in the farmlands.

The Bakers came for a late lunch and Earl and Lauren made baked red stump in the Weber. It was stuffed with nuts and apple.   Delicious.

Once again we had an early night.

26 March 2012 – Kokstad

It was an early start this morning.  Earl and I took Jay and Joshua to town to get shoes and to do our last minute food shopping.   There was no lamb at the butcher so we went to Pick ‘n Pay and placed our order which had to be collected at 12.

I took the boys to Dak where we found them each a nice pair of takkies as well as slip on sandals – so they’re set for the park.

Jay was starving so we went to Wimpy and phoned Barbara to meet us there.  She came with Glyins and her boys and we had a lovely time catching up.  Afterwards we went to Glynis’s house and Ann brought the baby so we had a chance to meet him too.

Lauren arrived too and after tea she took the boys back to the farm and Earl and I went to finish the shopping.   Back at the farm Earl rallied the boys to clean the car and we sorted out the final packing for tomorrow’s departure.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

We were all awake by 3:30 a.m. this morning.  Lauren gave Jay Pronutro and the other three some toast and jam, dosed them with Concerto and Car sick medication respectively and by the time Earl and I were ready to pack the car at 3:45 they were all ready to climb aboard the Caravelle and we were off on the long drive to Kruger.

“Its so quiet, early in the morning, Gran,” said Shannon.  “Yes – only the night creatures are out – I wonder what we will see.”

I was the only one to spot the genet and later a caracal slip across the road like a quiet, pale ghost.    Earl was too busy concentrating on the potholes in the road and the small passengers in the back had fallen asleep.   The potholes were really scary and we had several scared – but luckily no punctures.

Once dawn broke the kids were awake again and becoming quite noisy.  They loved watching the sun rise, though and it was lovely to hear their appreciative comments.

We stopped at Ladysmith where we had breakfast at The Wimpy.  I couldn’t believe how much our younger grandchildren could tuck away.  Shan had the special – two fried eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato, Si had chicken strips and salad, Josh only a toasted cheese and Jay nothing at all – Concerto takes away his appertite and he’d already had Pronutro.  He just settled for a strawberry milkshake.  It was much later in the day before he tucked into a ham and avo roll and some chocolate muffins.

All through the day the car went from raucous to quiet depending on the level of boredom that set in.  We tried playing counting games, we laughed over their dreadful spelling of the Kruger animals – but I think they’ve got it now – and we gave history lessons on the places we passed through.  Finally just before entering the Park at Malelane gate we impressed upon them how privileged we were to be visiting the wild animals in their natural habitat and they were amazed that the area covered an area as big as Israel.

Although they were tired and Simon , 7, complained that he’d never spent so long in a car in his life – 10 hours is a bit long for a small boy – they all were excited to see the hippo and waterbirds as we crossed the bridge to Malelane gate.

Crossing the Bridge to Malelane Gate

Then once in they wanted only to find elephants.  We did not – but a group of rhino were hiding behind the bushes, impala greeted us warmly and a juvenile martial eagle caused some delight.   It was 4 o’clock when we arrived and on our short drive to the waterhole and then to camp we found zebra, lilac breasted rollers, red-billed woodhoepoes, a coucal, yellow-billed, red-billed and grey hornbill and finally at the waterhole a fish eagle and some zebra.

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