South Africa - Kwazulu Natal

The seven weeks in Germany flew by. We spent a lot of time with our grandchild and celebrated a beautiful wedding of our son Felix and his wife Melina. But then we had enough and wanted to go on tour again. There is a bit of melancholy this time, because unfortunately we will not see our grandchild for a long time. 

On May 31, we fly back to Africa. After 17 hours, with a stopover in Doha, we arrive in Johannesburg at 10 in the morning pretty tired. We are not yet really awake, which immediately avenges itself. In a moment of inattention, a wallet is stolen from us in the underground garage while we are waiting for our driver to fetch the car. Of course with credit cards, ID card, driver's license and whatever else you carry around with you. That's a good start. Without much hope I go to the police office at the airport and describe my misfortune. The nice policeman hands me my wallet, which has just been handed in. Everything is still in it except for 40 euros cash in local currency. I can hardly believe it. So the day is saved for now and with some delay we can takeover MOMO unharmed and in good shape. The next days we do some small work on the vehicle, do a bulk purchase at a German butcher and enjoy currywurst and wheat beer. Then we say goodbye to the nice and helpful hosts Sinie and Gerhard and continue our Africa tour.

We find our way out of Johannesburg without any problems, even though we sometimes feel a bit queasy when we have to stop at a red light and the guys are hanging around our car while we read the signs "high crime area" in front of us. In any case, we are glad when we have the conurbation behind us. We head east and after a good 200 kilometers we make our first overnight stop at a campsite along the way, surrounded by ostriches and various bucks. 

The sound of MOMO is inexorably approaching that of a Formula 1 racing car, which is unfortunately not due to an engine upgrade, but to the fact that the exhaust pipe has a hole which is steadily increasing. After a few vain attempts, we find a workshop in Newcastle that has a suitable spare part and can fix the problem. A few decibels quieter we head for the Natal Spa Resort, a nice resort with some hot pools where we spend a few days and have a good time. In the morning it is only a little above zero degrees and a bath in the hot pool, surrounded by steam, is simply wonderful. 

Due to the high fuel prices in the country, a nationwide shutdown is being declared via social media by unknown initiators for Friday, June 10. The motto is that no one goes to work or school, public transport comes to a standstill and there are calls for demonstrations and roadblocks throughout the country. The whole thing doesn't really work out, however, because no one participates and the transportation organization distances itself from it. We wanted to go on that day, but we decided to wait one more day. You never know. The whole thing finally fizzled out, only in Durban and Johannesburg there was some looting of supermarkets. Relaxed we continue with one day delay to the Ithala Game Reserve. There we hope to see some wild animals again. From the entrance to our place for the night it is a good 20km of the worst dirt road which we can drive with max. 10km/h. There is not much to see at first, except a few zebras and springboks. The campground is a simple bush camp on the river and not fenced. We are advised not to swim because of crocodiles and except for us no one has strayed here. Fully motivated we start the next morning at 7 o'clock for a game drive. Unfortunately the track gets worse and the whole thing is quite an ordeal for man and material. Unfortunately, we search in vain for the elephants, rhinos and leopards that are supposed to be here and after another overnight stay we leave the park frustrated with the realization that it was not really worth it.  

It can only get better in Hluhluwe National Park, because here you can find everything a tourist's heart desires on a huge area of 960 square kilometers. You only have to find the animals. Camping in the park is unfortunately not possible, but a few kilometers from the entrance is a nice little campground from which we start our tours. In three days we cover 200km in the park and here the effort is rewarded. Rhinos, giraffes, elephants and lots of other animals. There are over 20,000 impalas alone. Unfortunately we don't see any big cats. But we do see a car that was attacked by a bull elephant and thrown into the ditch. The car is wrecked, but the passengers got away with the horror. In the evening we enjoy the sunset and the full moon from our box seat on the campground. 

We drive on to Richards Bay. On the way there, a stone flies into our windshield, the first stone chip damage in nine years. We had expected this on the Dempster Highway in Canada and not on a highway in South Africa. Thank God there is something like Car Glas also here and after a repair of 30min nothing is to be seen any more. We put ourselves a few days on a huge caravan park by the sea and enjoy delicious cocktails in the nearby Sundowner Bar and the cuisine of the restaurant, which, however, can not take up with Karin's cooking skills. Who else can conjure up pizza and casseroles of the finest in the middle of the wilderness. In the morning we usually get a monkey visit that romp on our roof and look at us curiously through the skylight. 

After a few days we continue to St Lucia and the Wetlands Imfolozi Park, a huge lake area with crocodiles and hippos. During a 2-hour boat trip we get very close to the animals. Caution is advised, because hippos kill a good 500 people every year. This makes them one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Our skipper tells us that just last week another woman died while washing clothes on the river. It's hard to believe when you see the animals bobbing around in the water. They weigh a good 2 tons, reach a speed of 40km/h and eat 40kg of grass per day. But if you look at one of the canines up close then you understand that you better keep some distance.

For crocodiles it is too cold at the moment and they are mostly submerged. Only occasionally we see one lazily lying around on the shore.

The next day we drive another 60 km through the park to Cape Vidal and see hippos, this time even not only the snout and the eyes, but in full size while grazing, as well as a herd of water buffalo, a rhino without horn and zebras. 

We spend two days in the Bushbaby Lodge where in the evening punctually at 19:00 a Bushbaby (thick-tailed night monkey) comes by and picks up his provided food. He is also not disturbed by the fact that I stand less than half a meter away from him and take pictures with flash. 

After a caravan club with their caravans encircles us we prefer to drive a few kilometers further to a bush camp that offers besides the overnight stay in safari tents also a few places for campers. There we have real Africa Feeling. In the morning and in the evening the water for the outdoor shower is heated by wood fire and in the restaurant one can be spoiled on order. In the evening Nyalas come to visit and we sit around the campfire and admire the starry sky. 

In the next few days we will continue to Eswantini, formerly Swaziland. What we experience there you will learn as always in the next blog. Until then, enjoy reading and looking at the pictures. 

Our route for this part of the journey - 1200 km

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