We then left Kruger and went to the adjoining private reserve of Sabi Sands, where we stayed in the quite luxurious Arathusa safari lodge. This was a somewhat different safari experience, as in Kruger park all animal viewing must be done from the roads. But in the private reserve, the vehicles are allowed to leave the roads for viewing of some animals. This allows for up-close viewing which proved to be pretty incredible. Our first game drive we were driven right next to a pride of 4 lionesses and 9 cubs finishing off a zebra. It was pretty amazing to be so close to these animals, who were totally unconcerned that we were there. Many had eaten their fill and were laying with bulging bellies and panting heavily as their metabolism speeded up to quicken their digestion.
The next day we had an interesting tour of Soweto, a township which factored heavily in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. We were impressed by the energy in the area as they were gearing up for hosting the World Cup next year. Our tour company supported revitalization efforts in the area, so we were able to visit a nursery school they founded and visited a home and saw their educational efforts in a squatter camp in Kliptown. I think many Americans may have been a little shocked by the poverty, but the people in Kliptown really have it much better than many Nigerians, and there was a much cleaner feeling to the place than we experience here in Lagos. People in Soweto seemed to feel hope and optimism, which is mostly lacking in Nigeria. We also enjoyed a visit to the market, where we tried mopane worms - a crispy snack -- and some other street food. And, of course, we visited the sights that factored into the battle against apartheid, a church, Nelson Mandela's house, now a museum, and the Hector Pieterson memorial and museum. This was quite a moving and informative day.
The next day we rented a car and drove out to an area called the "Cradle of Humankind" where in some caves they had found skeletons of prehistoric man. There was an interesting museum there, as well as a tour of the cave.
The next day we flew to Capetown and started a week visit to this beautiful city. The sun was shining when we arrived, so we went directly up the cable car to the top of Table Mountain where the view was spectacular. The next day we had a very interesting trip to Robben Island, the prison island where Nelson Mandela spent so many years. Our guide there had been a former prisoner on the island and the story of his experience was fascinating.
We had to rearrange our driving tour to the Wine Country and Garden Route a bit to allow me to get an unscheduled but necessary root canal. But, rest assured, dental care in South Africa is quite good and it was better to get this done there than in Nigeria. In Cape Town and the surroundings we saw beautiful scenery, enjoyed wonderful food and just enjoyed ourselves immensely. It's a city I would love to return to again and again.
All in all, the trip was just about perfect (the root canal being the major exception...) and it's something we wouldn't have been able to do without our hardship post subsidy -- one of the perks of living in Lagos. That's a good thing!