Day 1 & 2: Going all the way

Sitting on our veranda, in front of the room of our B&B watching the sun setting behind the mountains on the other side of the bay, one is tempted to contemplate life. And so did I.

Paihia, on The Bay of Islands is very scenic, touristic and tranquil. Perched on a slope, overlooking a part of the bay facing Russell, the B&B has 2 rooms for guests and with us the only couple there, the owners have all the time in the world for us. Unfortunately for them, we are suffering from quite a serious case of jetlag as we both slept next to nothing on the flights from Amsterdam to Auckland.

Starting on Friday morning, the journey took us from our house to Schiphol, Singapore and finally Auckland where we arrived at the hotel in the city centre around half past 12 AM on Sunday. The both of us tend not to sleep in air planes which meant we spent 11.5 and 9.5 hours sitting in a chair and watching movies and listening to music. Luckily the food we received was awesome, the best food we’ve ever eaten in an air plane!

The drive from Auckland to the Bay of Islands is really stunningly  beautiful, and has left us both amazed by the serenity of the land. Let’s just get to the conclusion of this past of the story: NZ is jaw droppingly awesomely gorgeous.
Green, lushious trees and shrubbery everywhere and the landscape is dotted with mountains and other features. Nothing like the pancake we tend to enjoy daily back home!

A week at the Kruger

This years trip to South Africa was going to be different from last year, we already knew that before we even went.
For starters: we were not going to be in SA for long. In 2012 the trip lasted for slightly over 3 weeks, where this time around there only was time for 2 weeks.
Also, the itinerary was different, instead of touring the country we are solely going to be in the Kruger National Park for a period of 11 days!

Whenever we fly, we try to book direct flights. Layovers are horrible things and there is always the chance of your bags missing the flight, leaving you stranded at your destination with only the things and clothes you carry. Not good!
Unfortunately we chose to not fly directly this year, but through London Heathrow.
And sure enough, our first flight from Amsterdam to London was delayed which meant we had to run through the airport to get to our flight. And, by now you’ve probably guessed it, the bags did not make it on.
Arriving at Johannesburg we got picked out by the baggage people informing us that our bags were not there and they’d be on the next flight the following day.
Crap.

Luckily we packed smart and carried a trolley containing the necessities as hand luggage so we were golden, and only short some toothpaste. That was definitely well thought out and a good piece of advice for anyone travelling with a short layover.

The bags arrived at our location on the second day in SA and everything was fine. So with all the luggage in place and all with us reunited with all our belongings, the world was a happy place once again!

We did not have to spend all 7 nights in the same location as the Kruger NP is a very big place. It’s 60km by 350km and has three diverse parts. We were to stay in the lower and middle parts with plans to travel to the upper part.
Over the next few days we stayed at Pretoriuskop (2 nights), Skukuza (1 night), Satara (1 night) and Letaba Rest Camp (2 nights). Not all Rest Camps are as good as the others, but over all they are fine and provide excellent spots to start your very own self-drive safaris into the park.
I can particularly recommend Skukuza Rest Camp as it is in an area with lots of wildlife including the highest concentration of big cats in the Kruger. If you want to see Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards, go there as that will give you the highest chance of seeing one.

As the park is a nature reserve and not a zoo, we did not get sightings of a Leopard, nor did we get close sightings of the Lion or Cheetah. But it just is the way it is, nothing is guaranteed and everything is possible.

The next few days will be really exciting as we are off to leave the Kruger and go to the adjacent Private Game Reserves. The usually have no fences between them and the Kruger and offer 2 daily safari drives where you just have to sit down in the car and enjoy the things you get to see, not to mention the fact we’ll be catered throughout the day and spoiled to bits.

BTW: maybe they have WiFi as well!

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