Monday, July 15, 2013

GSART - Day 7 - 11

Day 7: Hluhluwe -Imfolozi National Park

Distance Traveled: 200 KM

Highlights:

  • Completing the game drive without completely destroying the rental car. The dirt roads in some areas of this park were well maintained. In other areas? Well...let's just say they probably weren't made with the idea that a mini Toyota would be trying to transverse them. Huge ruts, steep gravely hills, and scary turns. 
  • Getting to our accommodation that evening at the Ubizane Game Reserve. We admit that we splurged a bit to get a cottage in the middle of a reserve, but the price we paid for it was well worth the luxury accommodation we received. A huge comfy bed, our own porch looking west to the sunset and gazelles grazing in our front yard. 
  • The sunset that we saw from our front porch was wonderful. Overlooking the Africa lowlands, wild animals grazing just a short distance away, a day old paper to "catch up" on what's happening in the world and a cold beer. Not a bad way to end the day.  


Low Lights:

  • Ok. We admit it. We've been spoiled rotten by our safari in Tanzania. The 4 hour self game drive was so much fun. Only we really didn't see much. A giraffe. A pack of wild dogs. A few zebra and several Thomsons. Yes. We're spoiled. Would we do it again? Of course. But driving around looking at the dirt road for 5 hours isn't exactly 
  • Charles' stress level trying to drive up and down and over a rutted road in a manual transmission without completely scratching the car. We made it. But the beer at the end of the day was well deserved. (If I do say so myself.) 

Day 8: Durban

Distance Traveled: 2.5 hours

Highlights:

  • All things considered, we got into Durban roughly on the recommended driving time. This is a win. Anyway you look at it. 
  • A nice long way down Durban's newest beach front walk way. After being in the car so many days in a row, we really enjoyed walking from our room north of town to Durban's downtown and beach front area. It was recently opened and very nicely done. Lots of people out and about. A really nice couple hour walk. 

  • Butter Chicken Curry on a baguette - I don't know... it probably sounds weird. But it was delicious. 


Low Lights:

  • Charles and Kate trying to team parallel park the car at the hostel. If we're honest with ourselves, it was likely hilarious to see. Kate trying to direct Charles who was trying to reverse and maneuver on a hill, in a tight space. Finally our very gracious hostess came and said, "Why don't you just park the car here." Thank you, angel. Thank you. Shocking, we decided not to get into the car again after that little incident. 
  • Charles leaving the cottage key in the door and subsequently arriving home around 9 PM only to find us locked out of cottage. In my defense, the angel told me to leave the key. I just didn't realize that she would go out to the pub by the time we got home. The conversation when I called her on the mobile to inquire whether we could get into our cottage was classic. "Ok. Listen NICELY to me..." She undoubtedly wasn't sad to see us go after the parking and locking ourselves out of the room troubles.


Day 9: Clarens

Distance Traveled: 5 hrs

Highlights:

  • Arriving in Clarens. Think a little artsy town tucked into beautiful rock formations. A bit of Sedona (without the new age vibe), a bit of Buena Vista (with a few less 14k foot peaks), and a place where you can pass a store called "Country Bumpkin Crafts" without having it be totally obnoxious. 
  • Clarens Brewery - One of the great things about traveling is that it forces you to appreciate the things that you might take for granted that much more. Craft beer on tap? IPA's? Free (fast) internet? A lively crowd? If we squinted we could be drinking our IPA's in any busy Denver micro brew. Amazing. And incredibly well enjoyed.  
  • Homemade Dinner - BBQ'ed hamburgers, the "best mac & cheese Kate's had in months", an actual bottle of wine (as opposed to the money saving box wine). A great dinner that both left us feeling a bit sick...in the best possible way. 
  • Finally a good movie. We have watched some pretty terrible ones recently, so if folks have suggestions please send them our way! Kate has a thing for the Before Sunrise/After Sunset series and we watched After Sunset- even Charles could appreciate this romantic flick after the terrible recent others 

Low Lights:

  • There may or may not have been a slight brush with a brick gate post as we left the Durban hostel. This is what car insurance is for. I could tell you all the excuses but Kate's already heard them. 
  • Charles' extreme frustration that lasted several hours after said event.
  • The silence in the car. 

Day 10: Clarens

Distance Traveled: 2.5 hour hike

Highlights:

  • The first day we haven't been spending several hours in a car in 10 days. AMAZING! A hike out our front door that got us moving, gave us some great sights and made us feel slightly less guilty about the mac and cheese from the night before.
  • The fresh baked ciabatta bread sandwiches we enjoyed on our hike, thanks to the local bakery. Soft, delicious and the best sandwiches we've had in a while! 
  • Clarens Brewery.... where this post is being drafted from. The owner now just comes up the table and says, "Another IPA?" Of course, fine sir. Of course. 

Low Lights:

  • NA - A great day. 

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