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A Welcome Return To South Africa

Nelspruit, South Africa

I had initially planned to head north towards Zambia from Vilanculos, that was until Mum and Dad had invited me to travel through Botswana with them and Alena and I had decided we would spend a week together in and around the Kruger Park and Blyde River Canyon area.

Having met Alena in Tofo, where we spent a week together, it was clear there was a special connection between us and thus we decided before she went back to Germany, and I continued on with my travels, we had to spend another week together. A week that saw us have an amazing time exploring and two of the best days ever in the Kruger Park.

The week started in Nelspruit, which is not the most inspiring of towns, but gave us the perfect base to rent a car from and plan the next step of our trip. The road took us towards Hazyview, where we camped for two nights, but not before stopping off at Mac Mac Pools for a rather refreshing swim. Having stayed in a hotel the first few nights it was nice to sleep in a tent, and be able to have a camp fire on arriving in Hazyview.

I must admit that it was Alena's fire-starting skills that enabled us to have fire. My fire-starting ability usually relies on petrol or any other flammable liquid I can find, where as Alena is a touch more gifted when it comes to making fire. However, once the fire was going I had no problems taking it from a small contained camp fire into something that you could burn a witch on.

From our base in Hazyview we took advantage of the natural beauty of the area, taking a mountain bike ride through the forest to an amazing waterfall, where we found a rope swing to amuse ourselves on. It was whilst in Hazyview that I found out Alena had never been to the Kruger Park, and thus the next few days of our trip were planned for us - we would take the car and tent into the park and stay overnight there.

Taking our own car into the Kruger made me realise this is in fact the only way to do the Kruger. Rather than having some mad Steve Irwin wannabe hurtling around at a hundred miles an hour trying to spot an elephant's backside to say he showed you one of the big five, you can in fact take your leisurely time and see so much more of what the park has to offer.

In the two days we were there we saw everything you could want to see, apart from a lion, but our cheetah experience more than made up for that. With the sun set and dark approaching we saw what looked like a lioness cross the road up in front of us, which caused great excitement as we pulled over where we thought she had gone back into the bush. At first we didn't see anything, and then suddenly I realised it was not a lioness we had seen, but a cheetah, and what's more it was sat less than a metre in front of us.

Alena slowly pulled the car forward, so that we were right next to the cheetah, and there we sat for close to a minute whilst the cheetah sat there without a care in the world before getting up and sauntering off. Now I have been lucky to see some great wildlife in my life but never have I been so close to such a revered wild cat - it set my pulse racing and is something I wont forget in a hurry. The only downside was that by this stage of the day the battery on my camera had died, so saldy no pictures for you all to see!

On leaving the park our week was sadly coming towards an end, but not before a trip to the Sudwela Caves, which are the oldest known caves in the world, before heading to Johanesburg. Saying goodbye to Alena at the airport was not easy, especially given how our feelings had grown for each other, but knowing I will see her again on my journey makes things a little easier.

It was at the airport where I met Mum and Dad again and set off for a week in Botswana, of which the story will follow shortly, so join us again at the same time next week for the latest adventures of one boy's story of living the dream in Africa.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on April 28, 2009 from Nelspruit, South Africa
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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