Uganda team 25 Day 16-19
Goodbye was hard on our last night, as we drove away from the Village of Hope. The kids blessed us with dances and so much love – with certificates in hand we headed home to pack.
The bus was there just before 8am the next morning and we loaded all our luggage on board, said our goodbyes to Juliet, Grace, Ivan and Robert and set our sights on Entebbe airport.
We had a fantastic run! So much that we had half an hour to stop at a Mall and have a much needed ‘comfort’ break and get coffee. Josh found KFC and made a bee line for that!
At the airport we only had a short wait and we were all checked in and waiting for our flight to Johannesburg, curious and excited about what the next few days would bring.
We were picked up in Johannesburg and ferried to a lovely hotel for a night, as we would catch a flight the next morning out to Kruger National Park. The first thing we noticed…. It was soooo cold! The high points were lovely rooms for us all - Piper had a long soak in the hot bath and we all loved the buffet breakfast. Some of us ‘rolled’ out of there (another sausage Josh?).
It was a very short 35-minute flight to a place called Hoedspruit airport, which is an old military building, and we were met by a driver to take us to our lodge for the next 2 days of safari.
The lodge was beautiful, but we had thirty minutes to drop our bags and jump into a safari vehicle with our fearless guide Ishmael, and head out for 3.5 hours of safari…
Well, we hit it big on our first drive! We saw elephant, zebras, wildebeest, monkeys, a pride of lions and a leopard! The leopard was sleeping only a couple of metres away from the vehicle, and Ishmael drove us right into a pride of lions – one walked by so close to the car we could have touched it. We were pretty pumped, and excited. Our guide said we’d been extremely lucky, we think… #blessed! We had pre-dinner drinks, with biltong and other snacks in the middle of the bush, where we could have easily been eaten by a lion, but thankfully we just enjoyed each other’s company and the stunning African sunset.
Back at the lodge a lovely dinner was set up outside with warming fire pits and beautiful lighting.. We dined on pork chops, beef stew, and many other great foods… and relaxed with a drink.
It was so cold we all couldn’t wait to get into our warm beds. that and the fact that the day had been full of impressions and travel… AND… we were being woken at 4.45am the next day for a 5.30 start to an all-day game drive.
The ominous knock at our doors came at 4.45 am. We all looked tired but pretty good for that hour! We loaded ourselves into our safari vehicle, first of all donning the brown blanket/coat/poncho’s designed to keep us warm as we zoomed along at 50kph in the sub-zero temperature. We looked like a bunch of tele-tubbies, and had a good laugh at ourselves – we were thankful for them though, as the wind was so cold!
The safari today was through Kruger National Park, which is 22 000 square km’s or 2.2million hectares. We travelled about 300kms over 9 hours and it was awesome seeing the world wake up. We all got a pack with our breakfast in it, and we stopped for a delicious picnic lunch, but the rest of the time we spent in the vehicle. We had to drive a lot further between sightings – I think that last night’s safari, with 4 of the big five seen in a 2 hour period, and up so close, spoiled us a bit for today – but over the day we saw some amazing animals – 2 cheetahs stalking along the side of the road, and crossing in front of our vehicle, a bull elephant having a stand-off with a lion, a herd of elephants running to the waterhole to drink, a leopard relaxing in a tree, hippos wallowing in the water with crocs sunning themselves on the bank, giraffes chewing the tops out of trees, and dozens of zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, antelopes, impalas, eagles, squirrels, hares, stacks of birds, ever changing landscapes all accompanied with interesting information from Ishmael. It was an amazing day!
Afterwards we relaxed for an hour and then met for a bit of a ‘hb team 25 debrief’… it was great to hear each other’s reflections on our favourite things, most difficult things, what we enjoyed about the team, and how we think this experience could change us… it was a challenging and encouraging time. We then headed into the ‘Boma’ (an outdoor dining area) for our last dinner under the African stars.
This morning we leave Timbavati to drive 7 hours through the guts of South Africa back to Johannesburg, for our flight home. A quick-ish stopover in Perth, and we’ll be home at 7.30pm on Friday evening. Sigh.
Thanks for reading the blog the past few weeks... Please keep us in your prayers as we travel home..
See some - only 'some' - pics below..