How's everyone doing this evening? I just got back from a wonderful talk by Vali Nasr - a Carnegie scholar and an expert in contemporary Middle Eastern affairs and Islam and politics. He is a powerful speaker in his own right and spoke about the rising middle class in the middle east. It was one of the best talks I've been to in quite some time - he was clear, lucid and thought provoking. He recently published a book called "Forces of Fortune" which I intend on reading sometime soon. Anyhow, just thought I'd let you know since I found the talk interesting.
So I went ahead and booked my Kruger National Park visit today, it all sounds quite exciting. We (Sesh and I) were actually supposed to go to Skukuza park earlier but after I made the payment to my travel agent, she said that they were full up and suggested Pretoriuskop instead with a few positive changes. I looked it up and it looked good, I mean we're on a safari so I'm not really expecting the Presidential suite with a buffet spread here.
Pretoriuskop Camp Map:
Here's what our itinerary for Skukuza looked like:
Safari price: R4 910 per person sharing
Basically works out to about R1635 per day.
There are beds in the tent but people can either bring their own sleeping bag or 'hire' one for R100 (see below).
The beds are canvas camp beds and are off the floor.
3 Open-vehicle game drives
Any day departure - leaving OR Tambo/Johannesburg at 10h45.
Returning to OR Tambo/Johannseburg at 18h30.
Your reservation is at our Bush Cuisine in Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger Park. The camp is properly supervised, here is a dining tent and a kitchen and breakfasts and dinners included
You accommodation does include tents appointed with beds, please bring your own sleeping-bag.
Itinerary – 3 Day Safari
10h45 – Depart OR Tambo airport – Nelspruit.
14h30 – Arrival in Nelspruit
16h30 – Arrival in Skukuza - after completing the Kruger Park entry formalities you will go to your camp, unpack and check into your tent and familiarize yourself with the set-up. Skukuza does have a swimming pool, shops, a delicatessen, take-away restaurant and the Salati Restaurant.
04h30 – Wake-up, following coffee, tea and rusks.(Departure times alter with sunrise and are set by gate-opening times)
05h00 – Depart – open vehicle game drive
08h30 – Return to camp for a hearty- breakfast and some rest
12h30 – Lunch – for your account
15h00 – Afternoon game vehicle game drive.
18h00 – Kruger Park closes their gates, back to camp for dinner and a lively chat around the camp-fire about the day's game viewing and the photographs and a chance to get some rest.
04h30 - 2nd Day – Wake-up call
05h00 - Depart – open vehicle game drive.
08h30 - Return to camp for a hearty- breakfast and a chance to clean-up.
11h30 - Departure from camp and return to Nelspruit.
14h00 – Departure from Nelspruit to Johannesburg.
18h30 – Arrival at OR Tambo airport, Johannesburg.
Once we found out Skukuza was full up, our next alternative Pretoriuskop came with a few changes, I'll copy paste part of the email I received:
"You will be staying in huts in Pretoriuskop (instead of tents at Skukuza) therefore they will have linen and towels provided.
· They will have two game drives a day – sunrise and sunset.
· Two meals breakfast and dinner are included.
· Transfers to and from Johannesburg are included.
· This is inclusive of conservation fees."
Huts at Pretoriuskop Camp:
It sounds like a deal to me, so we're on for Kruger park unless something drastically changes in the interim. Also, I was talking to Sharad over the weekend and he recommended I watch this video called "Battle at Kruger". I'm not sure if you've seen it but it was pretty awesome! It's basically a battle between lions, buffalo and crocodiles - all at the same time. I've posted a link to it here so you can view it as well on youtube.
Finally, I decided to get off my butt and figure out the visa issue for the World Cup. So, I went to the local CVS (a convenience store here in some states in the US) to get my passport photos taken for the South African tourist visa for the world cup - which is free of charge for Indian citizens btw, I'm quite impressed. I walked in there and asked the girl (Stacy, I think) if she could take some passport sized pictures of me. She agreed and was messing about with her camera when we spoke for a bit and I'll tell you what, I'm always amazed at some people's lack of awareness on basic issues.
CVS Pharmacy (for those who haven't seen the label before):
This is how the conversation took off...
Me: Hey there! I'm here to get a couple passport sized photos taken...
Stacy: Oh alright, I'll be with you in a minute.
Me: Could you tell me if these pictures will be fine for a South African visa?
Stacy: I'm not sure we only do 2" X 2" anyway.
Me: Ok then, lets...
Stacy (brings out her camera): What are you going to South Africa for?
Me: Oh, I'm going to see the world cup in June! I'm pumped!!
Stacy: World cup? for Golf?
Me: ?!?! No, football...
Stacy: Football?? You mean the Oakland Raiders play in South Africa?? WOW!
Me (a bit confused): Uhh, no..not that football, I guess I meant soccer.
Stacy: Oh cool! well I'm not jealous because I was born on Superbowl Sunday and the Oakland Raiders played that day...
Me: Umm..oh that's nice.
Stacy: Yeah, can you imagine that! I got to see the Superbowl on the first day I was born.
From there on she went off on a tangent and started talking about how she firmly believed in astrology and every astro-book she read seemed like it called out to her. I'll tell you what, it was a long five minute wait until those passport photos printed. I darted out the door like nobody's business. How can you live in this world and not know about the Football world cup, it is after all the world's most watched sporting event. It's like asking what the Olympics are all about, or what Global warming is. I mean whether you believe in a certain thing or not, these things surround us ...this stuff is harder to ignore than your friendly mother in law every holiday season.
Ok well, that's my post and rant for the day L&G, hope you enjoyed reading it. I'll write back when I have more to write home about.
Take care and thanks for reading...
This is Sandeep, signing out.