To Pretoria and back…07/12/2016
Into the wild20/12/2016
René got used fast to driving on the left side and Nici was able to accept that she was not in control in the left front seat.
We had downloaded an offline map of our route and drove to the bush babies monkey sanctuary without getting lost (which is a huge success for us).
The bush babies monkey sanctuary
The bush babies monkey sanctuary is home to 153 monkeys who were mostly held as pets and then donated when they were big and “not cute anymore”.
In the sanctuary, they are taught to live a natural life in a very big enclosure with a forest and rocks to sit on. They get fed but they also learn how to look for food themselves. Sometimes the staff hides their food under rocks.
Since we refuse to visit any attractions that exploit animals (such as lion parks, cage-diving with sharks and riding on ostriches) the bush babies monkey sanctuary was a perfect place to visit. It helps monkeys that were either abused or held in unnatural surroundings and it provides people who are interested in joining a tour through the enclosure with basic knowledge about monkeys and lemurs. It’s important to help sanctuaries and other animal-friendly tourist attractions to survive by visiting them or supporting them with donations.
I like to move it move it
Nici had been looking forward to the bush babies for days and René was glad that her singing “bush babies, we’re going to the bush babies” over and over again was finally over.
Our guide was really nice and we were the only two in the “group”.
The monkeys who were held as pets are very human-friendly and some climbed on our backs or clung to our legs. Others had been taught to be pick-pockets and tried to rob us ;-)
We instantly fell in love with the inhabitants of the sanctuary and it was hard to leave them behind after our tour was over. We didn’t see any bush babies though, but Nici had had enough cuteness for one day anyway.
The Elangeni resort
After our monkey tour, we had to drive back to Johannesburg to replace a broken camping cooker, which we had bought the day before, but then we were on the road again to the Elangeni resort in Mpumalanga.
The campsite was as good as empty and we installed our new tent, which turned out to be quite solid and even withstood a storm.
The first day in the camp we tried one of the hiking trails, but we didn’t get far because something that appeared to be a group of wild dogs was circling us and apparently hunting us. So we returned to the camp but the manager didn’t know anything about wild dogs in that area.
That evening, we got a visit from a horse who was wandering freely around the campsite and thought it was funny to bite everything we possess.
On our second and last day in the Elangeni resort we were driven to another hiking trail by the manager- along with a group of children and teenager, mostly orphans, who were on holyday with some social workers in that area. We saw two wonderful waterfalls and couldn’t resist taking a shower underneath ;-)
On our way back, we met some giraffes and buffalos- which even surprised the manager of the campsite. Apparently, they belong to a private nature reserve of some expensive hotel nearby. For us it was a free taste of safari :)
Blyde river canyon
After some hours of driving (and a whole lot of potholes) we arrived in the Blyde Canyon area, where we almost hit a baboon who was crossing the road. There we booked a campsite for R440 per night at the Forever resort. We were appalled by that price at first- regarding that we brought our own tent and we thought we were paying R440 just to use the bathroom. The Forever resort is even mentioned in the lonely planet, where it’s said that a campsite for tents costs R120 per night per person. But then we were informed that there were many hiking trails in the area. We took the shortest one that evening and were amazed by the beautiful environment (which we then realized was part of another nature reserve that belongs to the campsite) and by the kudu, springbok and family of baboons we met on our way back to the tent. After all this, we were okay with the price of our campsite. After all, we would have paid more if we had already driven into the Kruger park.
On our second day in the Forever resort, we spent the whole day hiking and combined several of the trails. We didn’t see any leopards on the leopard trail and since the sun wasn’t out there weren’t any snakes either. The view of the canyon and the waterfalls, caves and ponds we saw, were worth the effort. On our way back we met the family of baboons again- two mothers with babies who weren’t shy and seemed to like posing for photos. This time we even shot some good ones :)