Sunday brought a great breakfast at the Karula and the world’s best orange juice! Nothing in South Africa has artificial sugar, so their orange juice was fresh and natural. It’s making my sweet tooth sing as I type this. We hit the road right away in the morning to transfer from White River to Hoedspruit.
After arriving in Hoedspruit, we visited the Nyani Cultural Village. This isn’t a real village. It serves the purpose to teach tourists and visitors about South Africa’s tribal history and the movement of their different groups because of “white men”. We spent about 2.5 hours there. The employees there dress in traditional tribal outfits as they tell a tale of the history through song and dance. There were so many emotions in their songs, but I could tell they all enjoyed their job and sharing the history with us. We even joined them for some dancing, which made me realize how out of shape I am. All of their songs are very powerful and their dances are so fast, I don’t know how they survived the dancing along with the heat!
The afternoon at the Nyani Cultural Village brought lunch. This however, was not a normal lunch. There was no silverware, and so hands were used (preferably the dominant hand as the non-dominant is used for other things*). Lunch consisted of chicken, mealie pap (see picture), squash, and a the nice little surprise of a caterpillar. And yes, I did eat the caterpillar. When in Africa! I don’t think I would do it again but it was a great experience that definitely got me out of my comfort zone. For those that want to know- the taste was very chewy (the head was crunchy) and the aftertaste honestly tasted of dirt.
After finally eating some of my meal, we had to leave as we had an appointment for another location- The Endangered Species Centre. This center is trying to rehabilitate animals as well as raise numbers of endangered animals by breeding within their facilities. They especially have a stress on cheetahs within their facility. We rode in a safari jeep while we were there that allowed for up close encounters with their animals.
After visiting the animals at the Endangered Species Centre, we transferred to the Pridelands for the next two nights. The Pridelands is a bush camp located on a private game reserve. To explain, a private game reserve is land owned by a person or persons in which they own the animals on their land as well. We stayed in tents with no protection from the wildlife outside. First arriving I was very scared to stay in tents knowing that nothing was stopping lions or elephants from running right through/over our tents. We had no protection. However, the animals are really put off by the human sounds and smells of the camp. They are becoming more and more familiar with it, but it was time for me to put on some big girl pants.
This trip as a whole really allowed me to go outside of my comfort zone, especially between trying the caterpillar and staying at the bush camp. I had never gone tenting in the wilderness, let alone in South Africa with no protection from their megafauna wildlife. This was an experience I will never forget. I don’t think I slept very much, if at all. I was too worried about being pummeled by an elephant or eaten by a lion. I even heard hyenas howling all night, which was a little scary.
Besides being scared actually sleeping I loved going for game drives (safari rides) at the bush camp. Since the private game reserve is privately owned, when you are on the drive you are allowed to leave the jeep and walk around. I thought this was super cool because we ended up just crossing paths with a giraffe as we left the jeep. I also thought looking at the different animal tracks was really cool- we got to see giraffe and impala tracks! I also really enjoyed spending the nights around the fire- it was time to eat dinner and to discuss the events of the day and really enjoy the wildlife around us!