Mark, Debra & Octavious - Our Family

In July and August 2010, we took a long vacation to South Africa to see the family and the sights. Here are some of our pictures and descriptions from the trip.

Our trip over this time involved a day in Zurich and seeing the sights of the city  Instead of flying to South Africa directly as we have done for all the previous trips, we flew through Europe to take advantage of the day in a city with two overnight flights namely Miami to Zurich and Zurich to Johannesburg. 

The weekend after we arrived was a wonderful opportunity to see family and Octavious to get reacquainted with his cousins and Aunts and Uncle.  We went to a wonderful lunch and then back to the house for family pictures.

The first place we went that involved viewing animals was Sondela, a private game park just outside the town of Bela Bela (Warmbaths). We were able to walk around and relax. The Nyala would walk right in the patio and visit, wanting to be fed. Up near the check in was a children’s area where Granny took Octavious to learn to milk a cow and go on Game drives.

After a few days at Sondela, Octavious stayed with Grandpa and Granny for a couple of days while we headed to Tzaneen for two days at the Tzaneen Country Lodge and Spa - two days of relaxation and rest. This was the longest we have been away from Octavious and we enjoyed our time while he had alone time with his Grandpa and Granny. During this time, Octavious was taught to play Chess and Rummy which he enjoyed learning. We ,on the other hand, had body massages, facial and more massaging.

After the two days of relaxation, it was time to head into the largest game park in South Africa, Kruger National Park.  This time we spent all our time at a small bush camp called Talamati.  It really is a very restful camp (except for the monkeys and baboons that roam around the camp as they can hop the fence!) .  We were very lucky in all the animals we saw in Kruger - from the breeding herds of masses of elephants to the leopard we saw on the night drive to the cheetah we saw who had just crossed the road to the Sable Antelope that are extremely rare sights (Dad and I have never seen them in Kruger in all our visits).   Carol negotiated a night drive for us that brought many surprises in a 3 hour time.

After leaving Kruger, we went to a very restful place called Ekuthuleni.  This is a timeshare camp resting on the banks of the Oliphants river.  It is located right next to large pools that are inhabited by herds of hippo.  We got to see the hippos on the first two days we were there and then it seemed that the level of the river got lower and so the hippos must have gone a little downstream to some deeper pools.  There was one very tiny baby in the herd which was special to see.  A couple of crocodiles were also spotted on the sand bank that was in the river.

While staying at Ekuthuleni, we took a couple of trips to some local area rehabilitation and research centers.  The first was Moholoholo.  This is a rehabilitation center for animals that have been injured or captured on farms in the area.  The animals have either roamed out of the parks or had been pets and then released by their owners.  As an example, while we were visiting Moholoholo, the owner was called out to go and retrieve a leopard that had been caught in a trap on a farm and had been there for 3 days.  A really interesting place to visit and see all the animals they have there.

The research center we visited was Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center.  This is a cheetah research center where, with other research centers around the world, the cheetah are studied and bred in a way that their gene pools do not cross lines.  It really was a very interesting place to visit and hear about all the research that is done there.  One of the highlights was seeing the King Cheetah - there are only 54 known animals living in the world.

The final stop of the trip was in Cape Town.  We got to spend time at Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, albeit bad weather for the first day we were there, but on the second day, we were rewarded with the most glorious weather that allowed us to go up the cable car to the top of Table Mountain.  What a fantastic 3 days to bring the trip to a close and huge thanks to Ian, Michele, Bianca and Kiara for the wonderful time!!

We returned to Johannesbug for 2 days and prepared for our departure.  The night before we left was a wonderful dinner with Chris, Angela, Stephen, Meghan, Dad and Carol.  The following day, it was hard to say goodbye to Dad and Carol as they planned and gave us such a wonderful holiday.  We so appreciate it and look forward to the next visit!