Saturday, February 7, 2015

19 - 25 Jan 2015 Maputo, Johannesburg, Temple, Tour, Kruger

Two of our precious sister missionaries, Sister Bow and Sister Olander, helped us with our many suitcases and took us to the airport early Monday morning!  It seemed unreal to be going up the famed escalator to immigration and departing flights.

After a slight delay at Immigration (we found out you have to have a special document to take anything from the sea, including shells, out of the country), we were on our way to Johannesburg, South Africa.  It was the first time we have ever been met with someone holding up a sign with our name.

After a wonderful breakfast at the Tambo City Lodge hotel, a driver took us to the Apartheid Museum where we relived through videos and pictures the dark days of Apartheid, 1948-1994.  “To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (Nelson Mandela, June 1999).

The highlight of Tuesday was going to the Johannesburg Temple. 

After attending a session we took many pictures of the grounds and then our driver took us down where the Family History Library and Patron Housing were located.  We walked through the gardens, the scene of many of the pictures Matilde showed us of their time at the temple last March.

Tuesday evening we met Alan McKay of the Alan McKay Tour Group and our tour guide, Brett Stanley, and Ronel, who coordinated the tour on the South Africa side.  Wednesday we met the others in the group; the majority of the 24 people were from Utah and all except one couple were members of the Church.  We boarded our bus to begin the 305 miles we were to cover in the day. 

(Basically, we were bussed back the way we flew on Monday!)  During the trip, Alan and our guide talked with us about the history of the provinces we’d be traveling through, the black tribes and how they interacted with the original bushmen, the arrival of Dutch/Afrikaans in 1652, the subsequent British arrival, altercations over the gold and diamond mines, and apartheid.  Since we were headed to have 3 days in Kruger National Park, Brett also explained how Kruger National Park came to be.

At the Lesedi Lodge, we were introduced to 5 of the 9 African tribes who live in South Africa.

This is the statue of Mandela at the Union Building in Pretoria.

We stayed at the Casa do Sol Hotel that night and on Thursday morning traveled the rest of our 125 miles to Kruger National Park.  Although the place they call "God’s Window" was fogged over, we stopped at another overlook to see the 3rd largest canyon in the world, Kowyn Canyon, and a group photo was taken.  Another stop was Lisbon Falls.

After lunch at Harrie's Pancakes in Graskop, we went to a silk-making shop. Wednesday and Thursday nights we stayed at Casa do Sol in Hazeview.  

Hazeview is close to Phabeni Gate an entrance to Kruger. From there we went on our first game drive. Here are our guides, Brett and Alan, and our driver and bird expert, William.

Of course, we were interested in seeing The Big Five: Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Leopard, and Rhino.

Friday and Saturday nights we stayed in Skukuza Rest Camp inside Kruger National Park.  We were in Rondeval #12.

Here are some of our best pictures from our game drives, Wednesday through Saturday:  African Elephant; Waterbuck; Impala; Buffalo; Maribou Stork; Nyala; Giraffe; Crested Francolin; Lion; Fork-tailed Drongo; Leopard; White Rhinoceros; Wild Dog; Spotted Hyena; Southern Carmine Bee-eater; African Fish-Eagle; Burchell's Zebra. 

Sunday morning we left the park and traveled back to Johannesburg.  

There was a long and loud thunder/lightning storm as we ate at a restaurant in Johannesburg.  We stayed that night in Tambo City Lodge.

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