“One, two, three, four….all the limbs are still there.” I peer over to the inert form of Nicky next to me in the tent, I think she's all there although she is still wrapped in her sheet. That's good news no lions…and no lie ins. The birds have woken me before sunrise to a new day, our final day at Tuli Camp in Botswana.
It's been an unbelievable experience through Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, and now two months later we are leaving and going back to South Africa. With efficiency honed from so many pack-ups, we have our site miraculously spirited away into and onto Pajey within an hour and a half - that seems to be the new standard. It's our last tent pack up, and although we loved it, looking around I'm not seeing tears in the family's eyes. I think the girls are tented out and keen on some sophistication - although they'll have to wait a bit for that.
We leave Tuli camp and head along the dirt 4x4 track towards the Pont Drift border post which is the northern most border in South Africa. It's also the most fun border as there's no one there. We sail through a friendly Botswana border and then drive through a dry river bed to get to South Africa where we are welcomed with friendly smiles into SA.
“Aah, it feels good to be home.” Even though we are just on the tip of SA, there is something about home - even with all its problems. This is my country. Here I'm not a foreigner. These are my people - black, white, striped…whatever.
We’re headed to Mopane camp in northern Kruger Park. It's a short drive and we arrive at the Punda Maria gate - one of the most northern gates of Kruger. One of the things we have had to do countless times on our trips through other countries is have our car searched. This normally involves opening the back and in most cases opening the fridge or having them scratch through our drawers.
We thought this was behind us. But Kruger has decided to get in on the act too and so once again they want to see the back of the car…“Eish!” he says when we open it and he sees how packed it is. He gives up but pokes his head inside the car, there discovering kids. Not sure if he was expecting to discover hunting rifles, tanks, severed animal heads sitting packed on our seats…but we are waved through.
We spot elephant, buffalo, and various buck as we make our way towards Mopani Camp. We stop a few times en route and also once again cross the Tropic of Capricorn. The last time was driving in Namibia from Sossusvlei to Ludertitz. It's fun passing these landmarks and we all leap out again to take the requisite photos.
“What's with all the people?” I ask as we pull up at Mopani camp. “Oh yea. It's holidays!” We don't like it when it's holiday time as people appear. They should stay at school and not clutter up our holiday spots….but there is one benefit of lots of people…rugby atmosphere.
Rugby is one interesting theme of our travels. It's not that we have seen a lot but we have been able to “watch” games in some unusual places. We watched the boks get hammered by New Zealand while sitting freezing outdoors at a pub at night in Franschhoek - thanks to load shedding. We watched Twitter and Whatsapp updates as Japan beat the boks in their opening World Cup game while seated outdoors on the banks of the Chobe river in Namibia with elephants just across from us. We watched the boks beat Samoa in a hotel room in Botswana just after an incredible sunset boat cruise. Today we're packed into a pub at Mopani camp in Kruger preparing to watch the boks play Scotland while outside the sun sets over a dam packed with elephants, crocs and various buck. This is how rugby should be enjoyed…even when it goes bad. Now for a beer!
What a game! What an atmosphere. The boks manage to pull off a great win. The highly vocal Afrikaans crowd created a great atmosphere as about one hundred people sweated, literally, as we packed in together to enjoy the action.
The stars are sprinkled liberally across the ebony night sky as we walk back to our unit. It's a stunning evening and as we enjoy our meal outside soaking up the remnants of the day, the hippos grunt in agreement. I love South Africa.
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