Olifants Rest Camp. I kept the breakfast sugar in a rooibos tea tin.
Mornings took on a new pattern in the Kruger Park. They started early, in the dark, with Vince's alarm chirping him awake at 5.30. I am not naturally an early-in-the-dark kind of person, but it was surprisingly painless. The early nights helped a lot, and I found myself becoming sleepy at 9pm. Unheard of.
Breakfast Box: coffee, sugar, mugs, teaspoons, rusks, jam.
Vince would get up, unpack the Breakfast Box and start the espresso on a hot plate if we were in a rondawel, or over our Cadac gas stove if we were camping. Then he heated milk, and filled our flask for the road. All in preparation for the Dawn Drive, starting when the camp gates open at 6am, and when you are supposed to see the most animals. I still wonder if it's not a hoax. We always saw our best animals later. But the dawn drives were fun. The sun low and red, the air cold. We would leave in two sweaters and come home in T-shirts.
Balule Rustic Camp
So we'd drive for a couple of hours, or park and watch some water hole or river, and wait. And listen to silence, or fish eagles, and smell clean air, or that sweet, mysterious scent in places. And then we'd come back home, because every place we stayed was home, and have fresh coffee, and rusks, or perhaps some toasted buns with butter and my mother's apricot jam.
And I'd read the paper. Of course. The SAN Parks Times. The content is wonderful and highly informative, regarding this park and others, often written by researchers in the field. The editing is poor - bad grammar and punctuation - and boy, do they need a proof reader. But it remains a publication with great promise, and enriched our experience and appreciation of the park enormously.
Sometimes, there was company: the cleaners - who always arrived with daylight to clean out the previous night's braai ashes and change linens in the huts - hustling vervet monkeys out of the outdoor kitchens.
Once the sun hit the grass birds and local critters emerged. Tree squirrels, dwarf mongooses, starlings, barbets, hoopoes and the occasional bushbuck.
A life I could get used to.
Our Trip so Far:
Day 1 - Cape Town to Bloemfontein: 12 hours, many miles
Day 2 - Bloemfontein to Dullstroom: smoke in the heart of the country
Day 3 - Dullstroom to Tamboti: bushveld
Tamboti - Camp Life: wild fruit and winter flowers
Tamboti to Olifants: small owls and long necks