After we left Sabi Sands we flew from Skukuza to Port Elizabeth via “Joburg”. Airlink, the regional SAA carrier did not have a baggage agreement with British Air, which was our second leg. As such, we had to collect and recheck bags in Joburg with an 80 minute connection. A mistake by the wholesaler our safari agent used to book our domestic airfare but it all worked out fine!
We picked up our rental car near dusk in Port Elizabeth. A very harrowing 50 km drive to Addo through Motherwell a poor section where people jaywalk in 60 mph traffic with no lights and dark skin.
We arrived unscathed at Woodall Country House, a beautiful spot about 8 km from Addo National Elephant Park. We had a wonderful dinner and a sound sleep after a long day of travel.
The next day after breakfast we took the car up to the north gate of Addo. We didn’t have high expectations after our safari but remained open minded.
Immediately after entering we saw a watering hole on the left with a solitary elephant and a few Cape Bufffalo. Warthogs were EVERYWHERE!
We cruised to the famous watering hole where the elephants “came out around 11” according to Ruan, the ranger at Woodall. It was called Hapoor Dam and the parking lot was full of cars but no elephants. We cruised to the picnic area and Kadouw lookout which had some amazing vistas (insert photo link) and some zebras sleeping right next to the road.
Back to Hapoor and still no elephants (only warthog families at the “beach”). SO we drove on to the next watering hole: Marion Baree. Jackpot! Two to 3 dozen elephants of all sized enjoying a rather small narrow strip of water.
We saw a solitary elephant after leaving right next to the road. we shut off the engine and he went within 3 feet of us as he went behind the car
Saw some miscellaneous game as we departed the south exit. Disappointed that we had our trunck inspected as people apparently do hunt and kill wildlife within the park.
Onto the N2 and onto Knysna, 3 hours away.
More photos and videos on Facebook and Flickr!
Well, checking in last night took an hour (until midnight!!).
Checked in for Washington–>London–>Johannesburg. Lisa doesn’t have frequent traveler status so she has two choices. Pay $135 a leg to pre-select or select at checkin 24 hours out. So, you checkin for both flights but they want to charge $135 for seat selections on the connecting flights as it was more than 24 hours for London–>Johannesburg. This is after I called 5 hours earlier and explicitly asked this question and was told “no problem.” After 45 minutes and 2 supervisors they waived the fee.
Apparently all international carriers have adopted this policy as another way to make money but it’s the worst customer experience in the world.
Today is the last work day this month and after today I only have 8 more before “retirement”. I say that in quotes as you never know what the future will bring.
Have to stay up late tonight to check in (24hrs before my 1020 PM departure tomorrow from Dulles) and get a British Air seat assignment for the Heathrow–>Joburg leg. Even at outrageous British Airways Club World prices they charge $135 to get a seat more than 24 hours before checkin. “WTF”. Since I have status on AA I was able to get a seat assignment for myself and now I have to stay up so Lisa and I can sit together on this 11 hour flight. For a $7,000 ticket, this is ludicrous (speed).
Packing complete 48 hours out. Had to “test pack” for weight on Airlink, SAAs regional carrier from Johannesburg to Skukuza (gateway to Kruger and Sabi Sands, the private reserve where we will be. 20kg each checked and 2 x 8 kg hand carry. Sounds easy until you get to my camera gear 🙂
S Mack Peters ( a less wild cat) is also ready to get rid of us as shown by the photo below. He realizes he can be packed and we are still under the 40kg limit.
There had been a lot of planning on this trip as the 10 days after our safari ends I planned mostly myself with help of our Cape Town friends Mary und Karlheinz as well as booking.com and AirBnB. I even purchased South African maps on microSD for our Garmin (US$99, don’t know how they stay in business) so we could navigate the Garden Route in our rental car without worrying about wireless data.
And of course making sure we had all the necessary accoutrements for our fun excursion with the Great Whites in Gansbaai.