Friday, December 21 – Tuesday, December 25
Start: Johannesburg, South Afrrica
Stop: Home Elphick on the Crocodile River of Kruger National Park
After flying back to Johannesburg and spending a few days with Cherub’s Aunty Meg, I meet up with Cherub, Dayle and Dylan at the OR Tambo Airport. We share the cost of a rental car so we can get to where their grandparents live near Kruger National Park. We drive through green farm lands before descending through the mountains and gorges. I meet Cherub’s grandparents, Gogo and Gramps, who are very welcoming, not to mention witty, independent, and proper.
Gogo and Gramps’ home, which sits on the banks of the Crocodile River, looks out into Kruger National Park. There are Hippos and Crocs in the water. Egrets, Herons, Egyptian Geese and Fish Hawks fly to and fro. Buffalo sometimes sit on the banks of the river before wading in. And then the Hippos get out during the hottest part of the day and graze on land. The Elephants flap their ears and the various buks and Impala saunter through. The Rhino skirts by before I wake up. If you were really lucky, you might be able to see a leopard kill an Impala. Simply, the banks of the Crocodile River are always in motion.
Cherub’s parents Shelagh and Nat arrive on Saturday and fix dinner for the night. It’s so wonderful to finally meet them! Then Aunty Meg, Rob, Jen, Adam, Gill and Matty arrive on Sunday, also bringing heaps of food with them. Plus there’s Andra, Kyle and Taz. So basically, there’s no shortage of people with which to visit!
The four days are filled with leisure time, animal watching, tea drinking, way too much eating, more animal watching, trying to survive the heat and humidity, movie watching, gift exchanging, epic lightning shows, and good ‘ole family visiting.
Luckily, me, Cherub, and her cousin Matty are able to book tickets into Kruger National Park on December 24. I see my first Elephants, Buffalo, and Rhino up close. The best small sighting is the dung beetle that rolls balls of dung (with their eggs inside) across the roads. We should have a bumper sticker: Will brake for Dung Beetles!
Like a grand finale, we have a massive Christmas lunch. I sit facing Kruger and get to watch Elephants flapping their ears and Hippos meandering. This takes Christmas to an entirely new level!