Wednesday 10th June 09 Kruger the long way round!

I decide I need to get my carnet stamped and the easiest way will be to go to the nearest big border. This is at Komatipoort some 100 miles away. It is a long road as I try to keep off the toll road but to no avail, there is no other road. R45 later I end up at the border and have to explain to the hustlers that I am not going through so I don’t want their services. I ask a customs guy what to do and he says to park up go inside and ask for Miriam. This I do and she then asks the supervisor who just says to stamp the carnet. This done I head in to Kruger Park by the nearest gate. I think I am too tired to pay the right attention to spotting game however the weather is poor and this often keeps the animals in sheltered areas. I get back to Hazyview quite happy to be fully legal again.

Thursday 11th June 09 Kruger Park

I first visit the post office as I wish to send back to Stephanie the anti malarials she will need to take before she arrives here. She can use the Malarone which I bought for emergencies. The girl at the post office is very insistent on me taking recorded delivery so it can be tracked. I ask her is she thinks it would go missing otherwise and she seems pretty certain that it would so all of you expecting postcards……….

I head into the park but it is pouring and the game is scarce except for a lovely elephant encounter around 4pm.

Friday 12th June 09

I chat to Ed the co-owner of the backpackers. He is very pro-Landrover which is nice to see around this part. I head off to see if I can find a radiator cowling but Landrovers are scarce in the breakers yards here. “We never broke a Defender” is one quote I get in Nelspruit. I also check the price at the dealers but decide against it and also decide against getting one that Mike from Durban can source as the shipping puts it very high in price. I will work out another solution. I try to get my gas bottle refilled again and am directed to a place called Camp and Gas. They can do it as a few years ago they had a lot of overlanders going through with Camping Gaz bottles and had a job lot of adaptors made up, one of which I buy for about £5. I see a canvas suppliers and pop in on the off chance I can get some material to make up a fridge cover. Result, he sells me canvas and gives me some netting and thread. It is nice to see him give gentle but clear instructions to his workers. I head back to the park and once again have little joy. The guy on the exit gate is not helping when he gushes about how many wonderful sightings people have had. I finish my stew and head for bed.

Saturday 13th June 09

I haven’t been happy with the turbo performance and have a look locating a hose which is not securely gripping the pipe. It is not going to tighten up so I find a shop which has very good ones and instantly feel an improvement. I head to the park and have a slightly better day seeing some large groups of hippo. Back at the backpackers Frances gives me her take on South Africa. A chap called Dieter turns up and I get a halfway political perspective from him.

Sunday 14th June 09 Kruger to Klaserie

Enter the park with a 1 hour wait in a queue as they only have 2 tills working (as always) and it is a holiday weekend so the place is busy. I have a real highlight with a leopard on a tree branch. Great start to the day. I see lots of animals but no lion. The backpackers I go to is a bit unusual as the guy is trying to get away from paying for water and electricity so has built a water wheel to pump the water and is on solar energy both by panels and reflecting the rays onto an old water tank with foil. It works very well. They aren’t making a lot of money but he is keen to have the peaceful life.

Monday 15th June 09 Panorama route

The solar shower heater has worked well and kept the heat overnight so I clean up in comfort before today’s trek. The park will be heaving so I go and see the tourist route called the panorama. It takes me to places called God’s window and the Blyde River Canyon. It seems to be a track many people were following and I see the same faces over and over. The sights are impressive but very much the real tourist trail. It is a very scenic drive back past the shop where they sell tourists stones (literally they sell stones from pebbles at R1 to boulders at R10. Very enterprising as they are just stones.

The owners are very welcoming back at the campsite.

Tuesday 16th June 09 To Tzaneen

I am up early and remove one of the electric fans from the radiator to allow better airflow and hope this sorts the cooling. My last day in the park is long and not so rewarding as I got to a place after they had seen lions early in the day but they had all gone to ground. There were still some lovely encounters.

I headed to Tzaneen for a camping ground I had in my book. It is still in the making for the camp ground but the guy, Louis, who runs the place really is turning it into a top place. It has great views and he is making the chalets to a high standard.

When he finds I am a musician he is instantly on the phone and I have a meeting planned with his friend Vikas (Vickers? Never found out the spelling) who is a double bass player. And so to bed.

Wednesday 17th June Tzaneen.

Vikas arrives at 10am and we head down to Louis’ batchelor pad. He has quite a bit of music gear himself and is a keen guitarist. Vikas plays some stuff demonstrating what he is currently trying to do as a solo career. He used to be in the SANBC Orchestra but that work has dried up as the sponsorship disappeared. They get me to play some tunes and we all have a very enjoyable morning. I am nearly due for an oil change (well the car is although somedays..) and so I head into town to pick up some engine flush. I do Forex and manage to forget the sugar I also wanted. Oh well there’s always tomorrow. Chicken thighs for dinner. Tomorrow I head for Botswana.