Indian Ocean Big Five Educational – Candice’s story part 3 of 3 – the end!

Following on…. Day 7 saw us heading for Maputo, Mozambique. This was to be a long and tedious day. This also happened to be Christmas Eve…After crossing the border we drove on a sand tack for about 3 hours. Any person that does not know how to drive with a 4×4 on the sand would get stuck every 5 minutes. Will knew exactly what he was doing. He was actually enjoying this sand driving. I could tell by the huge grin that he had on his face. One thing you need to know about Will is that he is a 4×4 fundi and loves driving off-road, so he was in his element.

When we got to the ferry which was to take us across to mainland Maputo we had to make some decisions. The ferry was chaos as all the locals were trying to get to the mainland for Christmas. The queue of cars was backed up for about 500 meters and when we asked the cars in the front of the queue how long they had been waiting the answer was, “six hours”. Will called the group together and informed us all that we had two choices. He was going to back track for about three hours and drive the way we had just come and then cut across another main road and reach Maputo this way.

What the clients could choose was to either go with Will in the vehicle or go across the ferry on foot and take a taxi to the hotel once we reach the other side. I must just say that by this time the wind was howling and it was starting to drizzle a little bit. When we left Kosi Bay it was very humid and the sun was shining brightly. I had a pair of shorts on and a strappy top and I had no access to my jumper as it was on the roof of the vehicle with all the rest of the luggage. So, needless to say that I was just a little but cold. Two of the clients opted to travel with Will and the rest travelled with me across the ferry. To go across the sea on the ferry gave the clients a chance to experience the ‘real Africa’. The Mozambiquans were all friendly people and were eager to help us. We just missed the ferry and so we had to wait an hour and a half for the next one. Once on the ferry the ride across the sea was quick. Lieve asked me if there would be a bathroom on the ferry and I replied saying that the question she should be asking is would she want to use it if there was one. She went and had a look at the bathroom onboard the ferry and came back confirming what I had said. Her son was bursting for the loo and had to pee over the railing, much to the delight of the other passengers! Once on the other side we had to hustle and bustle to get off the ferry as the crowds were pushing to get to the exit. I hailed a taxi and bundled everyone off to the hotel which we were staying at. As it was Christmas Eve we wanted to eat at a really nice restaurant for dinner. We got to the hotel at six thirty that evening and Will only arrived at eight ‘o clock. Tired and very hungry we set off for the best restaurant that we could find. After a very tasty meal we went back to our hotel to get a good nights rest.

Day 8 and 9 was spent at Bamboozi Lodge in Inhambane. This was to be the highlight of the tour for me. We were booked to go snorkelling with the whale sharks and we could not wait to get back to the sun, sea and sand….or so we thought. Leaving Maputo it started to rain. We were sure that it would let up once we were headed further north, but something told me that this was not to be likely. For days we had seen the sky get more cloudy and more ominous. There was a huge storm system brewing and it looked like we were heading straight for it. We travelled all day to get to Inhambane and with each hour it started raining more. When we got to Bamboozi Lodge there was torrential down pours! This meant that any and all activities that had been booked had to be cancelled due to the rain. It was Christmas day, but it could not have felt less like Christmas! After settling into our accommodation (thank goodness we were not camping) we all gathered into this hut that we had made our kitchen area. The clients spirits were high and when I asked how they could not be miserable because of the weather, their response was, “helle legit”, which when roughly translated means the same as our hakuna matata in Swedish. So there you have it, pouring with rain on Christmas day. All activities have been cancelled, but the clients are still smiling. This has got to tell you something. You may ask yourself what we did with ourselves for two days…. We did what any normal person would have done, we hung out in the bar/recreational area and played board games, drank 2M’s and Tipo Tinto (the local home brewed, Mozambiquan rum). Some braved the weather and went to the beach and even swam. After being in a rainy tropical paradise for two days, we packed up our very wet clothes and headed for the Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

The Limpopo Transfrontier Park is situated just before the Massingir dam, which has the biggest earth wall in the world. It was a very impressive sight. After a long travel day we arrived at the park and set up camp. Murphy’s Law, just as we were about to cook dinner it started raining again. We all huddled under the awning and waited out the rain in order to resume our meal preparation. After a warm meal we all got into our tents and slept soundly – or as soundly as possible with Will snoring!

Day 11 and 12 were spent in Kruger National Park. This park remains one of my favourite national parks in South Africa. One is almost guaranteed of seeing the big five.  One of the best animal sightings that we had was of a female hyena with cubs. We spent the two nights at Timbavati Safari Lodge. The lodge’s food was brilliant and they had a really great pool to swim in. On the first night there was a huge thunderstorm. I could not fall asleep as every time I started dozing off a loud clap of thunder would wake me up. Coming from Cape Town where we experience very few thunderstorms, it was really something to experience a thunderstorm that felt like it was right above your head! Towards the end of our time in the park the clients had still not seen any lions and they were getting desperate! On our way out of the park on one our last game drives we had a fleeting sighting of a lion walking across the road with three lionesses walking in tow. All I was thinking was Hallelujah! The clients finally had a lion sighting!

The last day of the tour was spent driving through the idyllic Pilgrim’s Rest and Dullstroom. We made many stops along the way so that the beautiful scenery could be appreciated and souvenirs could be bought. We arrived in Johannesburg late afternoon. Will had booked a great restaurant for us to have our last meal together as a group. Everyone had a chance to speak about their highlights of the tour during our last meal. After dinner we headed back to the airport game lodge. Some of us decided to have a night cap where the clients surprised Will with a gift to say thank-you for the incredible tour. Email addresses were exchanged and promises were made to send the pictures of the tour to one another. Saying good-bye I had so many flash backs of all the laughs and good times that had been shared. One knows that a tour has been successful when the tour starts with a bunch of strangers and ends as a group of friends.

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