South Africa, Day 10: Headed home.

Well, this is it, the last post on the last day in South Africa. For those loyal readers, thanks for sticking with me — I’ll miss telling this story, which only means I have to go on another big, fabulous, exotic trip soon! Stay tuned.

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We were awakened again at 5:00 a.m. on our last day at Entabeni. As I sat up in bed, I started to feel the tell-tale scratchy throat that comes with the common cold. Nah, I said, it’s just the dry air. Uh huh.

We caught a vehicle and headed for coffee and biscotti at the lodge before the morning game ride. But on the way we encountered a herd of 3 or 4 giraffes, just grazing on the trees there in the dawning light. It was too dark to get a great photo, but they were still a sight to behold. So beautiful and awkward yet graceful.

Giraffe, in the dark.

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South Africa, Day 9: At Entabeni.

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The guides woke us at 5:00 a.m. on our second day at Entabeni, and we dragged ourselves out of warm beds into a chilly draft. Even with our heated blankets, it was cold overnight, and given our wooden hut we were afraid to leave the space heater on. We dressed, climbed the precarious staircase to the top of the cliff and were shuttled in game vehicles to the lodge for coffee and biscotti.

Sunrise over Entabeni.

Gareth was our driver again on this morning ride, though it was too early and cold to be too excited about that. Entabeni rock, the lodge and sleeping cabins are on a flat plateau, but the ride was to take us down the mountain into the valley to see more animals. Departing the lodge, we saw more of the same wildebeest and impala. Gareth spotted some elephant tracks and followed them for a bit, to no avail.
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South Africa, Day 8: On Safari.

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Day 8 in South Africa marked the end of our “schoolwork” and the beginning of vacation — we were going on safari! You know, going on a safari was always on my bucket list, but I never really pushed it because I wasn’t sure how I was actually going to get to Africa. That’s why we should always leave ourselves open to new experiences, I guess. I put “safari” on a list, threw it out into the universe, and there I found myself, headed to the Entabeni game reserve in northern South Africa.

From Johannesburg, the ride to Entabeni was about 4 hours, and we were warned that the last 45 minutes would be on unpaved, dirt road. A true adventure! Exhaustion was at its height by this point, so most people welcomed the 4 hours to nap, but I was so excited to see the real landscape of South Africa. Because it was winter, everything was dry and brown, but still breathtakingly beautiful.

Leaving the Westcliff, Johannesburg.

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I bless the rains down in Africa.

I received some very important mail this weekend … my travel documents for South Africa! I hinted back in January about a big international trip I was taking and now I can confirm it. In May we’re going to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. Really, they had me at “safari,” “winery tour” and “high tea.”

This trip will mark my second time crossing the equator, and adds another continent to my count: 4. Like most things, my father has declared that to be a competition, so we’ll just have to see who makes it to Antarctica first. My money’s on him.

I have a couple of months to study up, and I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. I’ve already watched Invictus, and my grandmother keeps recommending various Nelson Mandela biographies. I’ll tackle those in my “spare time,” I suppose.

Oh, and I hear it looks like this. Whoa.