Monday, April 26


It was clear how disappointed I was when I realised that, no, lions and elephants do not roam the streets of South Africa freely. I was expecting to see wildlife from my bedroom window, to sleep with the sound of animals hunting and all that. But it seems South Africa is actually more civilised that I had imagined it was. I was even able to drink straight out of the tap!

The point was that I was not going to see a lion take out a water buffalo any time soon; unless of course we made an effort to visit one of the many game parks South Africa have to offer. Kruger Park is probably the famous, but one that required overnight stays to be of any use. There were local ones to Durban too, but they weren't too hot (the closest to us didn't even have any cats).

We finally decided on Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, a reserve around three hours away from Durban. Waking up at 3am (animals are more likely to be seen during the morning), we set out on a car ride that would last 12 hours in total; all driven by a single guy, and yet another testament to the hospitality of the Saffans. Packing a quick lunch made up of leftovers from a braai last night, we headed off.

I was a bit disappointed with the animals. It wasn't really the fact that many of them were in hiding - we must have spent at least 75% of the time driving around aimlessly seeing nothing. It was more that when we did see animals they were just that, animals. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I didn't feel any more excitement here than I would have found in, say, a zoo. Where was the lions taking out the water buffalo? That said it was pretty cool spotting an elephant as it tore down a tree.

But it turned out that this was less about the animals and more about male (and female) bonding. We totalled five guys and a girl (who spent most of the journey in the boot. No, really, she did) and perhaps it's just an obvious cliche, but being in such close proximity for such a long amount of time did serve to build bonds, personal stories and plenty of jokes.

Today was a case of enjoying the journey rather than the destination, a testament to the concept of the road trip and explicit bonding and because of that it remains one of the best things we did in South Africa. In some ways it was the most indicative example of how this holiday as a whole was less about tourism and more about the company. Good times.

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