In November of 1999 we began to think about our summer 2000 holiday and pretty soon we decided to do ‘something else’. We had never been to the African continent before and started to gather information about South Africa. While planning our route through the country we thought it would be nice to visit Swaziland too. This would give me the opportunity to operate my radio from a ‘DX-location’ once again. Since South Africa is a member of CEPT my Belgian license allowed me to be active there but Swaziland proved to be another problem.

Finally the calendar showed July 20th. We left home early afternoon and after check-in at Brussels airport a British Midland jet brought us to London Heathrow where we boarded a South African Airways Boeing 747-400 that would take us on a night flight to Johannesburg. This was one of the new airplanes with personal video screens and a choice of movies (even in ‘cattle’ class). The downside of all this was I didn’t get a lot of sleep before we touched down in Johannesburg at 7 o’clock. According to the pilot the temperature that morning was -4C (25F), not our idea of Africa at all...

Going through customs was no problem and soon we were in the arrival hall looking for the Europcar rental office. A little later we had the keys to our ‘bakkie’ and a cell phone (courtesy of Europcar).

Voortrekkersmonument
Krugerhuis

After leaving the airport we drove north to Pretoria. We visited the Voortrekkersmonument, Krugerhuismuseum, walked around city center and Church street and ended our day around sunset at the Union Building. We then drove back to Batiss Guest house, a bed & breakfast located in an historical building. The temperature was already a comfortable 20C (68F) by now.

Phalaborwa sign

We were woken up by the alarm clock at 7.30 and got ready for breakfast. We had a drive of about 500 Km ahead of us. From the Batiss Guest House we headed for Pietersburg, 270 Km north along the N1 highway. There we turned east on the R71. The scenery along this road is fabulous, we drove through Magoebaskloof and via Tzaneen dam to arrive in Phalaborwa.

Here, we had booked a ‘rondavel‘ in the Sefapane Safari Lodge. We parked our car, unloaded our luggage and hurried back to reception as we had an evening safari that started only 20 minutes after we arrived at the lodge. Our guide was a very knowledgeable park ranger who pointed out the things to look for.

Our car

Sunset over Kruger park
During our evening safari in Kruger we saw a spectacular sunset

We had spotlights in the 4x4 during the evening safari. This gave us the opportunity to look for animals that otherwise would not be seen during the day. When we got back in the lodge (half frozen!!) a choir, led by a Phalaborwa policeman was singing near the fire in the garden. When they finished their performance we got to the restaurant for dinner, a ‘braai’ (Barbecue).

The next morning we got a wake up call at 5.00 in order to leave for a day long safari starting at 6.00. Jeremiah, our guide and driver was already serving tea and coffee when we arrived at reception. The first part of the drive, when the sun was rising above the horizon, we didn’t see any animals. They must have been hiding from the nightly cold. After about 50 Km we stopped at Letaba, one of the rest camps, where we had breakfast. There were 3 impalas near our tables and a lot of birds. They all tried their best in getting some easy food.

Sunrise over Kruger
Giraffes
Hyena
Zebra and impala

Around noon we stopped at one of the camps again and Jeremiah unloaded our lunch. This was a welcome break as we could stretch our legs and respond to the ‘call of nature’.

Hippo
Giraffe
Elephant crossing
Monkey business

We got back around 5 o’clock in the evening. This left me with about half an hour of daylight to finally install my antenna and transceiver in the car. I just managed a quick radio check with stations in Kaliningrad and Finland to make sure everything was working before dinner.

Once again we had an early start of the day. By evening we had to be in Hazyview but instead of taking the fastest road we wanted to drive trough Krugerpark for as long as possible. This meant we had to drive 330 Km, most of it in the park where the maximum speed is 50 Km/h on tarred and 40 Km/h on untarred roads. And we wanted to stop and look for animals as much as possible.

Monkeys
Elephants

Of course we spend more time than we anticipated in the park and we managed to get out of the gate just in time before closing time. This meant that the drive from Paul Kruger gate to Hazyview was driven in the dark. Not a good idea if you are not sure about the road conditions... When we arrived in Hazyview we had to call the Laughing Waters B&B to ask for the final directions. We were about 2 Km away from them and after finding the entrance there was another 900 meter to drive through the citrus farm before we actually arrived at the entrance of the building we were to spend the next 2 nights.

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