The First 2 Days of my African Adventure | Johannesburg & Balule

Discovering Balule Private Game Reserve near Kruger

A calm and soothing giraffe during the Sunset Game Drive in Balule Private Game Reserve in South Africa

Our first Giraffe spotting during our Sunset Game Drive in Balule Private Game Reserve

What’s for Dinner in Johannesburg?

In my last post, I described how I organized my 3 week trip to Africa. I wanted to tell you about our first leg today, but realized it’d be too long, so I’m gonna break it down in bite-size pieces and only talk about the first 2 days.

When we arrived in Johannesburg on a sunny, warm winter day, it was early, before noon, and we didn’t plan anything that day. We wanted to leave it open because I knew we’d be tired after losing a night’s sleep on the plane. We were tired, but in hindsight, I would have liked to have gone on the Soweto Day Tour. I’ll have to save that for another trip.

Instead, we hung out at the hotel grounds, embraced the sun and was lucky enough to meet Andre, the Owner of Safari With Us, and Debbie, his Personal Assistant. They were so kind enough to organize a braai, a South African barbeque and even though I’m a vegetarian, they were still able to feed me! I know it’s not that hard, but you’d be surprised how many people invite me to a bbq and then ask me to bring my own food because they don’t know what to grill. How many? EVERYONE!

Debbie and Andre also introduced us to pap aka mieliepap (Afrikaans for maize porridge). We had it several times during these 3 weeks, but the pap served that night was by far the best! The tomato sauce was excellent! We tried to recreate it at home, but it just wasn’t as yummy.

The Next Morning

My daughter, 9, wasn’t too excited about this trip because she really loves to sleep in. Me too, but I reassured her that waking up before the crack of dawn would be so very worth it. I only had to mention that before the trip, ’cause once she arrived in Johannesburg, she was ecstatic and never flinched at the thought of waking up at 5am… whew!

So, yeah, we all had to wake up early the following morning to start our African journey! Woot! We said our goodbyes to Debbie and Andre, jumped in a small bus with several other guests and drove to our destination: Tremisana, near Kruger National Park in Hoedspruit. Our driver was informative and told us this and that along the way. I can’t remember how long it took, but we were entertained by the interesting conversations with the other guests in the bus, so time wasn’t an issue.

We arrived and were greeted by Pretty, a beautiful, young lady with so much pep, I thought we were at a summer camp back in the day. She told us the plan and because it was a little late, we only had a few minutes to settle in our room. It was almost time for our sunset game drive, my first real safari ever! I’ve been on other safaris in zoos before, but not in the wild, so I was obviously very excited.

Sunset Game Drive at Balule

About 10 of us hopped on the jeep and Tanja, our guide and driver, started on her way towards Balule Private Game Reserve, right next to Tremisana. It is open and connected to Kruger, so any animal here can just hop on over to the other side… We stopped to watch our first breathtaking African sunset. You know you’re closer to the equator when the sunset only takes a few minutes.

Again, what’s for dinner?

We spotted a few impala, some birds and few bones of a giraffe but we did spot a live giraffe in the distance. It was getting dark and was so quiet except for the sound of our jeep, I’m wondering if the noise may have scared away some animals away.

We soon arrived at the location for our boma dinner which was good because we were hungry! They served us another barbeque and yes, I was able to eat again and yes, it was delicious! Did I mention that I gained 2 kilos during my trip?

Anyway, we met other guests at this beautiful location right in the middle of the bush. The tables were beautifully decorated and we just had a nice meal and interesting conversations.

You never forget your first elephant sighting!

The most memorable part about this evening in Balule was on our way home from the boma dinner. It was pitch black and then bam! There they were, a family of elephants, right in the middle of the rugged path. My heart stopped.

There was one female and four younger elephants of all different stages of life. Tanya said that the female adult was about to give birth any minute/day. I couldn’t tell though. Not only was it dark, but elephants are just so big anyway. I just kept whispering, “oh my God, oh my God” as tears swelled up in my eyes. It was one of the most magical moments I’ve ever experienced.

Watch my video

[quote align=”center”]You never forget your first elephant sighting[/quote]

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Happy traveling,

Interested in a Sunset Game Drive?

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