We spent our final days in South Africa staying in a wonderful airbnb house in Hazyview, just outside Kruger National Park. We did a day-long wildlife safari, and the next day we drove north onto the Panorama route to see all the sights of Blyde River Canyon, the 3rd largest canyon complex in the world (who knew?). Then we drove to Johannesburg for a final visit to the temple, and began the very long journey of flying back to the United States, which was made even longer by a cancelled flight. (see lowlights). But we made it!
1. Seeing all the African wildlife in Kruger National Park
2. Taking an AWESOME hike through Blyde River Canyon
1. A long, long delay on our flight back home
1. Seeing all the African wildlife in Kruger National Park - A jeep picked us up from our place at about 5:00am, and we headed toward the park (about a 45 minute drive). Since we were a paid trip, we made it to the front of the line, while others waiting for hours. Kruger is an open park and so anyone with a car can take the drive. It was great fun to sit high on the back of the jeep and look out over the wildlife and scenery. It was definitely fun for a day, and it was a lot of driving, and a pretty long day. I personally was satisfied with a single day of safari viewing. I know others go for multiple days at a time.
2. Taking an AWESOME hike through Blyde River Canyon - This drive had some really wonderful waterfall lookout points, and then the guinea fowl trail we took hiking down into the canyon was a magical wonderland trail. The weather was perfect, nice and hot to feel cool and refreshed by jumping into the water, but not TOO hot to make hiking miserable. But there was lots of shade on the hike, and the vines and vegetation and flowers and streams and waterfalls, and swimming holes and trails over roots and rocks and everything. It was a stunning place of beauty and fun.
1. A long, long delay on our flight back home - Yuck, our flight home through Paris was cancelled, so they had to put us on another flight through Amsterdam, but it meant we had to spend the night in Johannesburg airport, and then spend another night in the Amsterdam airport, so our arrival home was delayed by a full 24 hours. It was not what we were planning, but a lost day in the grand scheme of things isn't such a bother, so we made the best of it.
Tuesday December 27: Most of the day was taken up by a Kruger Safari. We saw zebra, giraffe, rhino, water buffalo, hippopotamus, elephants, leopard, tons of antelope, and others. We missed seeing a lion, unfortunately, but it was a great day. Our jeep guide seemed genuinely interested in hitting all of the big 5. We spent about an hour along a crowded road with dozens of jeeps inching along in both directions after a lion was apparently spotted in the area. But we never saw it.
Wednesday December 28: We drove the Panorama route up to Blyde Canyon, which was a highlight of the trip. Lots of viewpoints were stunning, including the 3 Rondavels lookout, Bourne's Luck potholes, Amber Falls, Berlin Falls, and "God's Window", and our final hike from the Blyde Canyon resort was a top 10 world hike. Waterfall, swimming holes, tropical vegetation, magical surroundings. It was an awesome way to end our trip.
Thursday December 29: We drove to the airport in Johannesburg to begin our long series of flights home. Our initial flight was cancelled, and we were re-routed to another European stopover, which meant we need to spend 2 extra nights in hotels in Africa and Europe before finally arriving home.
Friday December 30: Long day of flight and travel
Saturday December 31: Home sweet home! And we even made it home in time to do our annual New Year's Eve polar plunge at our neighbors pool. Keep in mind it was probably 25 degrees F outside at midnight, with snow on the ground and ice in the pool. Cold!
Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.