Finally back in Port Elizabeth after 51 days away, its time to wrap up the blog with a round-up of our experiences. We arrived home to find the drought broken, everything beautifully green, storage tanks overflowing and the dams filling up nicely. Even the Karroo was greener than we've ever seen it, with dry river beds now full of water. It has been bitterly cold and wet since we got back and we look longingly at the weather forecast for the Kruger, with its lovely warm daytime temperatures and wish we were still there.
A few stats for the stats-minded:
Km travelled - about 6500
Caravan parks stayed at - 16
Most northerly point - Crooks Corner at about 22 deg S
Hottest day - 37 deg C at Skukuza
Coldest night - Way below freezing (windscreen washer froze) at Aldam Estate in the Free State
Highest altitude - 1843m outside Volksrust
Best caravan park - has to be Silver Rocks near Modimolle (Nylstroom). Brand new, state of the art, well-designed, pity it is accessed by 3km of badly corrugated gravel road.
Favourite caravan park - without a doubt Punda Maria, the most northerly camp in the Kruger. The bird hide, the waterhole, the scenery, the few cars on the roads, the whole package in fact. The facilities are just about adequate, but the overall experience is amazing. We often heard that there is a shortage of game in the northern part of the Park, but this wasn't our finding at all.
Best things we did on the trip, in no particular order; attend a performance of the Drakensberg Boys Choir, stay overnight at Ndzakha tented camp in Manyeleti, stay 2 nights at Tzendze Rustic Camp.
Best sightings, also in no particular order; leopards at Skukuza, cheetah at Satara, rhino at Berg-en-Dal, moonlight elephants at Punda Maria, Bateleur eagle in the waterhole at Punda Maria.
Although we did have a favourite camp, we enjoyed all the Kruger camps we stayed at, Each has its own distinct character and should be enjoyed for what it is.
As for the funny things that happen on a trip such as this, it was agreed at the outset that 'what happens on the trip, stays on the trip'!
All I can say is, thank goodness we can laugh at one another, and at ourselves, although sometimes it takes a while for the sense of humour to surface.
A few titbits;
Chasing monkeys with a catty does not end well.
No dessert buffet is safe when Cathy is around.
When shopping at the Spar, must remember to engage handbrake.
Alan Carter should work for the CIA
Wife with map should be trusted over GPS
If you have left your caravan step at home, a plastic crate with the breadboard on top is not a good substitute.
Having almost 50% of the men on tour (when there were 8 caravans) named Mike causes confusion
Crocs can be hazardous to ones health (the shoes, that is)
So, what did we learn? The KNP is about far more than the flora and fauna. It was, and is, a frontier place, just that now there are new and different frontiers than back in the days when the Park was founded. There are wonderful people who staff it and whose committment shines through. There are wonderful people who visit it and we were lucky enough to meet some along the way.
For those who care to dig a little deeper, there is a wealth of historical detail and many fascinating stories to be uncovered.
This diary was started to keep our family informed about our travels. Amazingly enough we have had several hundred hits from South Africa, England, America, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Singapore, India, Australia and Brunei. Thanks to all of you who came along for the ride - hope you enjoyed! We certainly did!