My travels halfway around the world was as pleasant and uneventful as any 10,000 mile voyage could have been! I wish to single out two people who made my travel from Dallas to Johannesburg more enjoyable. First is Jerri Thomas one of the flight attendants on my Dallas to Atlanta flight. When space for my carry on camera gear was sparse, she went out of her way to find a way to keep my precious gear in the main cabin rather than forcing me to check it --- and she did all of this with a genuine smile while working on July 4th. THANKS Jerri! Second was my waitress at the Atlanta airport TGIFriday’s Devona was absolutely as welcoming, pleasant, and funny as I could have hoped for given that she was working a very busy shift on the 4th of July. Her great good cheer and ready laugh was another bright spot which made a long trip much better than it might have been. THANKS Devona!
16 hours across the Atlantic Ocean was tiring but thankfully easy. I was warmly greeted and hosted for the night by my friend Dave, one of South Africa’s great caving pioneers. The following day, it was back to the Airport to catch my flight to Hoedsprit, the gateway to the Kruger region of South Africa.
After a short and enjoyable drive to nThambo with Enoch, I settled into my “Chalet”, a luxurious tent set on top of a platform 20 feet high. Camp Manager Lily did a fine job of welcoming me to the camp and orienting me to the daily pulse of this great camp. A delicious lunch was followed by getting to meet my guide Luan, and our tracker, Isaac. I also became acquainted with the other guests who were from Germany, South Africa, and Seattle.
Our first game drive began slowly as the only unusual animal we encountered in the first hour was the threatened Ground Hornbill – It was busy trying to make a meal of a Leopard tortoise. Looking at this bird you might think I had made a wrong turn into "Jurassic World"!
As the sun sank and the sky began to take on the hues of a lovely sunset, the rhinos made their appearance – We started with one young bull and were joined by two rhino cows within moments!
Thing then got better as we followed them to the local water hole where we were treated to the presence of three more rhinos! We enjoyed our sundowners there as we watched the rhino calf suckle as the sky grew progressively orange.
We then began our trip back to camp and dinner, but were treated once more to the beauty of the bush when we came across two lionesses known as the Ross Pride Breakaway females because they left the larger Ross pride to strike out on their own.
Seeing them relaxing in the darkness was exciting and a perfect end to my first full day back in Africa!