safari, for starters

Dearest ______,

It’s hard trying to tell you about my recent trip to South Africa, just because it could possibly have been the most amazing of my life, so far:  the passing of beloved global peace icon Nelson Mandela; or hanging out- chilling, as the locals would say- at the coolest (some, quite frankly and proudly, hipster) places unexpected in this side of the world; or driving for 400 kilometers and getting very lost at the top of a dangerous mountain pass ominously called Bain’s Kloof Pass; or personally seeing remnants of the shit storm that was the Apartheid system; or eating great food (“Some of the best meat in the world!”, so exclaimed my companion the carnivore); or drinking some of the world’s best beers and wines for a fraction of whatever we pay for, here in Singapore; or getting robbed of 400 African Rand and 300 Singapore Dollars inside our very own hotel room (yes, sir!); or seeing all that staggering natural beauty synonymous with the African wild; but of course…


What is the African experience without seeing its famous “Big 5”?  There’s so much to say about amazing South Africa, and with that latter note,  I shall begin to try telling you about it.

“Big 5” is what they call the most famous animals indigenous to Africa’s countless deserts, bushes, and Karoos  (what they call a semi- desert natural area in South Africa) .  “Five” consists of the African Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the Cape Buffalo, the Lion, and the Leopard.  If only to get as much from our first trip there, of course we had to see them too.  Kruger Park is supposedly the best place to see them in the whole continent, but it’s closest to Johannesburg (and too far from where we actually were).  There are a good number of “Game Reserve” venues closer to Cape Town, though.  And since we were going to be based in Cape Town for the most part, we did research on these other choices instead (read many reviews, more importantly) and decided on doing the safari experience at the Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Safari Lodge, a mere  3- hour drive away from Cape Town’s center.   More on the 3- hour drive (which inexplicably turned into an adventure in itself, taking us a total of 5 hours to actually get there), and more on the lovely Inverdoorn Lodge resort later as well.  For now, the safari.

Each day, they have two 2- hour drives out unto the reserve. One at the crack of dawn (around 5:30AM) and the other at dusk (around 4:00PM). The animals are said to be more visible during these times of the day.  And I can only imagine the cold at night.  At those two times we drove out in a 4×4, the dry Karoo winds made for about 12-15 degrees Celsius.  It was even chillier whenever the jeep moved against those winds.
This is us, getting our caffeine fix at 5:00 or so in the morning, while waiting for the open- sided jeep to take us from the resort out unto the reserve. From experience the night before this, we’d already found out how cold it could be out in the African bush. While they have blankets in the jeep, we opted to wear long- sleeved sweaters and scarves to protect us from both severe sun and cold. Weird combination, but it really was like that out in the Karoo.
This was our trusty 4×4 jeep.

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