Kruger Park fans!I know it's been a little while, but it's lovely to see all of you again!
Rock star living - it's a tough job.Coming in at the tail-end of a very successful trip to the Kruger National Park (see KP.com Blogger All Set for the Park for all the pre-trip details), I've been itching to jump online and let you all know exactly how it went! So, without further ado -
A tale of mystery, intrigue, and baboons
--The trip there--
Where to start?As a first time traveler, I was surprised to find that I didn't have any urge to overpack. All you ever read about with people on their first domestic flight anywhere is horror stories about bags bursting at the seams from being filled with metric tons worth of luggage and then sat on. Much to my surprise, I got everything I needed into a rucksack, with room to spare. This was important because, getting to the airport and finding I could basically just walk on to the plane, I had plenty of time to sip my airport lounge coffee and watch families fight over bulging suitcases.<< Not meOne two-hour flight, some minor turbulence, and a few nervous G 'n T's later, I was touching down at O R Tambo international airport, in a rainy Joburg city.What happened next was slightly unnerving. At age 23, stepping off an airplane on not-Capetonian soil, backpack secured to my shoulder and laptop slung over my back pack straps (creating a bag-strap-death-trap, I had to keep reminding myself it ensured no one else could grab either bag off of me), I rounded the corner of the arrivals lounge at JHB Int. to find a man, holding a signboard with my name on it, waiting for me!
Bennett, my driver back to the fabulousOutlook Lodge in Benoni where I would be spending my evening, instantly grabbed my attention as possibly the smartest man alive. Navigating his way through evening traffic in the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, he proceeded to describe, in accurate detail, the elevation of the city above sea level, the history of the route between the lodge and Paul Kruger gate (where I would be entering the park the following day), population densities, rainfall and a host of other factoids. I was, by this stage, too tired to follow most of it properly, but it made for a nice accompaniment to our drive through Benoni.Outlook lodge was a wonderful, if not sleepy stay. Soft bedroom palates of brown and cream complimented the lush green exterior of the lodge, with its attractive benches, lake and birdlife. My room came with the basics - television (with DSTV), coffee and kettle, two beds, a cabinet and a view out onto the front lawn, and, from what I could tell, I was sharing the Benoni lodge with a British couple for the evening. Because I'd already eaten on the plane, I trundled my stuff off to the room, took a short stroll around the property, then crashed into my bed with an audible thump until the following morning. Drifting off to sleep, our early departure and five hour ride out to the park were thoughts that rocked me to sleep very quickly.<<Day 2 on Safari to follow>>