Welcome to South Africa – Pilanesberg and Pretoria

Very (VERY!) early one morning, we crossed over from Botswana to South Africa… We’ve crossed over 6 border controls since leaving the UK, but this one feels rather special. Maybe it’s because this is our last one. Or maybe it’s because they’ve made us get up and present ourselves… underneath those clothes are PJs!!!!!

Just a quick train journey… (which took a lot longer than expected… such things happen!)

…we made it to our second Safari point… This time we are visiting Pilanesberg. Situated between the Kalahari and the Lowveld, this vast area promises thrilling big game viewing. There are several things we liked about Pilanesberg. But the biggest draws for us were (i) no shooting… the animals here are much more relaxed. They aren’t bothered about the trucks, because they know they present no danger. We liked that and (ii) the reserve is very child friendly…

So what did we do here? Well, we took a safari drive and stopped at the most beautiful lake at sunset…

     

… and We stayed up REALLY late and saw rhinos…

We got up SUPER early to watch the sunrise and see the animals wake up…..

 

And we were treated to this this guy who followed our truck for quite some time… Following this young lion, we learned a lot from our ranger, who taught us how to cup our ears to hear the noises the lions make to call each other.

But today it’s all about the elephants… We saw the most lovely family group which was amazing to witness – just how like us their family groups are!

                    

(and J’s love of ‘butt’ shots… sorry about that!)

The children were treated to lunch with this wonderful elephant who – I swear – was posing for the visitors!!!

Overall, Pilanesberg has been amazing… but there is one final celebration we need to enjoy before we leave! And that’s G’s birthday! The reserve did themselves proud with an amazing cake! And even the Rhino (who were the only ‘big’ animals we hadn’t seen…) made an appearance for the big day.

                            

Happy birthday Gorgeous girl!

Then it was back to the train. For even more cake!

After a much needed good nights sleep…. the next morning, we pulled into Capitol Park in Pretoria.

                        

Capitol Park is a private station – the home of Rovos Rail –  and is full of memorabilia and animals roaming about. The children adored the Ostrich! There would be more pictures but someone (*coughJcough*) used all the battery playing games!!!

Then we took a tour of Pretoria…

         

The highlight has to be this huge monument of Nelson Mandela!

We also went to the Voortrekker Monument  This enormous granite building is so prominent and tells the story of colonisation between 1830-1850. It’s rather strange being here now….it is part of South Africa’s history, not it’s future…. and it’s only due to Mandela’s personal opinion that it was preserved. If I’m honest… with all of the controversy over statues going on right now, I am not sure I would have wanted to bring the children here if I’d realised it’s significance before we arrived… but actually, I’m glad I did. The children need to understand the history and it’s lasting legacy. They need to understand that their actions need to be different. That can only happen if we don’t forget our past.

 

And then we are off again…. rolling out of the towns and townships and on to our next adventure.

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