MY GAP YEAR 2007/8

FIGHT CLUB IN THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

We left the soaring mountains of Mpumalanga behind us and drove to the world famous Kruger National Park. I didn’t expect I would have a great time as I’ve seen all the animals before in Colchester Zoo and thought it might be a bit touristy. Well, how wrong was I? The Kruger has to be one of the wonders of the world.

Once pass the large gates (I was humming the Jurassic Park theme as we entered) you are confronted with thousands of hectares of African savanna and wilderness.

Driving the gravel roads which crisscross the park we were soon confronted by all manner of different game. Zebra, Monkeys, Antelopes, Buffalo, Elephant, baboons, the list is endless. We spent hours watching animals go about their daily business of eating, sleeping and shitting. One baby elephant was having a whale of a time splashing about in its own pee. We were even lucky to spot 3 white Rhinos, a wild dog (Apparently very rare) and even a pride of lions poked their heads up from the long grass to say hello, and it was here watching these lions a rather bizarre exchange happened.

There must have been about 30 to 40 cars lined up watching the lions laze around in the sun when we spotted one of the more common animals in the park, the old South African tourist. So common you can spot them a mile off decked out in full safari attire, driving one of those really impractical SUVs which are no good for off-roading, just good for the school run and showing off to your neighbours. I bring these wild animals up because we were happily watching the lions, when one of these SUV species wanted a better look, so he decided to drive off the gravel road (£100 fine) towards the lions but managed to drive straight into two trees (£200 fine) before getting stuck in a hole (I bet he wishes for a Land Rover now). Once he managed to free himself by wheel spinning out in a cloud of dust, he crashed straight in to a parked car full of American tourists, denting the side of their car. The American angrily steps out of his car (Remember there are lions only a few meters away) yelling and screaming “I’m going to punch you old man” with his fists up like a cartoon character. The old man is frantically winding up the window and locks his doors. I’m not sure what the lion must have thought about all the commotion but i loved watching it.

The next couple of days were spent at the sleepy backpacker town of St. Lucia. We found a great backpackers on the main street which had a great outside bar with a communal BBQ area. This was my first taste of the backpacker life. And I must say I really enjoyed it… but as you all know how much of a music snob I am, Well.. you could plug your iPod into the bars speaker system and I must say, I’m sorry to all the Americans reading this, but your country has been let down badly. I mean really, who wants to listen to country music followed by Scooter (euro trance), and then to top it off Michael Bolton. Michael fu@king Bolton. It wasn’t long until that persons iPod came off and mine went on.

St. Lucia is on a Unesco World Heritage Site so there was plenty of wildlife wondering around, cheeky monkeys trying to steal food from the BBQ, Crocodiles in the lake and I kid you not, even a Hippo walking down the main street. It’s really like walking in to the Umbongo commercial: Pop quiz, does anyone remember the lyrics?

So things had been going so well up until now, as I’ve had a run of bad luck.

  • My bank put a hold on my debit card so I couldn’t get any money out over the weekend as they thought my card had been cloned. Thanks a lot Barclays. Don’t worry mum it’s all sorted now.
  • My iPod crashed and wouldn’t reset (Not a major problem, but It meant we had to listen to Michael Bolton again)
  • I broke my new 35mm Leica lens “Noooooooooooooooo”. That’s £600 down the drain, however there is a repair shop in Cape Town which might be able to help, fingers crossed. Not happy.

We drove down the south coast of Durban which has some of the best waves for surfing in the country and I can see why, these are big boy waves, not like the girlie waves we get in Cornwall. There are loads of small surf towns on the south coast so we picked Scottsburg… Not really what I would have called a crazy party town, far from it. The town only has one hotel and let me put it this way, it was an old people’s home. That’s right, it’s one of the hotels used by Saga Holidays, Not one person under 55 years old in the hotel. After the enthusiastic porter called Richmond took us to our room and showed us how to use the telephone for 10 minutes, we went off to get a bite to eat at a local restaurant. We were in luck, a curry house. Nothing to report on the curry, it was very generic and I was a tad upset that they didn’t serve it with any Naan bread, gutted.

After the generic curry we decided to go to the hotel bar, we knew no one would be in there as it was 8pm and it was ‘entertainment time’ in the main lounge. What could be on offer tonight, a dance? a cover band? of course not, It was the oldies favorite game… inside bowls! We decided to pass on it and instead opt for the ‘Zulu Ladies Bar’ where we slowly got more drunk with an old couple from Kent who basically moaned about every part of their three week holiday. Mind you, I think I would  be moaning if I spent £2000 on a holiday to find out that I was going to spend it at a hotel where the reception smelt of pee.

Next day was spent in Margate, It’s a lot like Clacton, so there isn’t much to say about it except the beach is better, and it has no chavs.

We are now on the Wild Coast at the hippy village called Port St. Johns. It’s a wonderful little place with a bustling market and extremely friendly locals. The hostel is great too, our room is a safari tent with a view over looking the sea and the jungle. We’re off to Coffee Bay tomorrow. Until then, i’m out of here.

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