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my trip to... south africa

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the land where the sun rises

Jessica Pook enjoys Johannesburg before venturing to Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces where she is rewarded with dramatic vistas and some close-up calls with nature

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ome quick!” Says our ranger. These are words that conjure a mixture of excitement and fear whilst on a morning game walk in the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa. As we huddle together, I’m slightly underwhelmed by what appears to be a pile of elephant dung. “This holds so much moisture, it could keep you alive for days if you were stranded in the bush,” enthuses Richard, as he starts picking at the dry, grassy remains. The next thing we know we are passing it around like it’s a rare jewel!

Limpopo

I’m travelling around the provinces of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng, courtesy of South African Tourism, and I’ve been counting down the days until I can experience some of the wildlife that this country is known for. Our home for the night is Mtomeni Camp, situated on the African Ivory Route in Limpopo. The camp is owned by the local community, something that the rangers –

also locals – are extremely proud of, and shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park – a top pick with visitors looking to spot the Big Five. The Letaba River runs through the middle of the camp, attracting a rich source of animal activity almost within touching distance, and consists of 12 comfortable safari tents which gives the camp a small, intimate feel. Mtomeni can justifiably be called exclusive – it’s the only camp in a 42,000 hectare reserve! In single file we follow Richard – I am mindful not to be too close to the back! – until we reach the bank of the river, where we are met by a big group of hippopotami, with everything except a few ears and snouts submerged. It’s very special when we spot a calf playfully nudging against her mother’s side. “How did you know they would be here?” I ask Richard, astounded that his tracker’s nose had sniffed them out. “They are always here” he answers casually. “They never move from this spot unless they come onto the riverbank – and when they

do they can run up to speeds of 30 mph!” With the thought of outrunning a hippo at the forefront of my mind, we move on. In the cool evening air we settle at a spot which overlooks giraffe and elephant in a gorge below. With a gin and tonic in hand we finish the day by witnessing a spectacular sunset - an experience that will stay with me for a long time.

Mpumalanga

There are some places in the world that have the ability to make you feel insignificantly small. Looking out across the endless vistas of the Panorama Route in South Africa, I realised I had found one of them. I had an inkling that this leg of our journey wouldn’t disappoint. Mpumalanga translates from Zulu as ‘The Land Where the Sun Rises’. And with names like ‘God’s Window’ and ‘Paradise Country’ being thrown around, it didn’t take long for us to understand why. Bordered by Swaziland and Mozambique, Mpumalanga is sculpted

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Selling Travel June 2018  

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