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03 October 2008

Our Honeymoon

written by: Don

This was the most memorable and enjoyable holiday we have ever had. Simply a dream holiday, just as honeymoons are supposed to be!

We have divided our two weeks there into three parts. The first five days, we spent in the Blyde River Canyon of Mpumalanga, South Africa, which is supposedly the second biggest canyon in the world. We hired a car and drove around ourselves, along the so-called panorama route, which was indeed breath-taking. The scenic views are just stunning. During this time, we have had a couple of hikes, partly through indigenous forests, saw loads and loads of waterfalls, had a horse-ride along the Sabie river valley and, most of all, enjoyed the fantastic hotel room we had: a little hut all by ourselves, with a fantastic view from the balcony, overlooking nothing else but green rolling hills and a cosy fire place inside, which we made very good use of. After all, it was winter in South Africa and the place was above 2000m! Facts one easily forget in the warm and dry climate during the day time.

Then, after five days, we bid farewell to our little hut and headed towards Kwa Madwala, a private game reserve boasting with 14000 hectares of land and many many wild games, including elephants, lions, leopard (one), rhinos, hippos, giraffes and antelopes in any variety. This time, the hotel far exceeded our expectations (which wouldn't have thought possible after our fantastic experience in the first hotel). We have our little hut, overlooking again nothing but wilderness, just that this time around, a giraffe or two would occasionally come along and munch away on some bushes in front of our balcony! The hotel room also has a outdoor shower on the balcony for each room, since they are facing outward away from the camp so that no one can see you. Standing there having a shower while looking at the giraffe eating some leaves, or looking up and seeing the million stars above with the milky-way, these are memories for a life-time. And, as though that's not enough, they treated us with fantastic three course meals day in day out, and even organised a fantastic bush dinner for us, making this huge fire in a clearing and arranging tables around the fire for dinner for us, cooked on the spot.

Of course, we also went to the Kruger Park and had a whole day of game drive. Our ranger turned out to be called.. Don! The first Don I have ever met in my life. He guided us skilfully through the park, showed us some really amazing animals and brought us into such close range to all the fantastic animals for magnificent photos. Only the leopard never wanted to show himself and left us hunting for him the whole day - in vain.

That, however, was largely compensated by our elephant-interaction experience. In the elephant sanctuary of the safari camp, they have two 'tamed' elephants (Don would say: 'there is no such thing like a tamed elephant!' *laughing and showing off his golden teeth* 'They are habituated, but they are never tamed! If they want to kill you, they kill you!'). What we experienced was, apart from how tough and hairy their skin is, also how intelligent these animals are, recognising us by our names or by our smell, after just a couple of seconds of training!

After 4 days of intensive animal interaction, we then finally moved on to the last part of our holiday: Mozambique!. A one day short trip to the capital Maputo was merely the appetiser here. And indeed, appetiser is the right word: seafood is SO good in Mozambique, I couldn't help myself and ate 14 crabs in 3 days!! The clear water beaches where rather windy, but we went sailing with an African boat (a dhow) instead, enjoying the marvellous on-the-spot cooking of these masters in the boat, fresh sea food served right there on the beach. We also had another horse ride, this time along the beach. The guide even gave us two sister horses, so that we can ride side-by-side on the beach. For me, this was the first time I ever really had to learn to use some skill to ride (all previous horses were 'automatic horses'), and this was one of the most fantastic experiences I have ever had in my life.

We also went lucky with the hotel again, having booked it online with no real clue what we are going to get. The room turned out to be a little hut for ourselves again, with a veranda out to the lawn facing the Indian ocean. After all the early days in the game reserve we got used to waking up at 6am, and that gave us some fantastic moments, sitting on the veranda, wrapped in thick blankets, smelling the ocean, feeling the sea breeze - and watching the sun rise at the horizon. This is just how a honeymoon should be. :)



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