09 632 1138 info@iwh.co.nz
Planning your OE?  Welcome to International Working Holidays
 
 
 

South Africa will steal your heart

South Africa will steal your heart

Author -  Vicki Kenny

Warning - South Africa will steal a little piece of your heart. 

You must return.

I lived in South Africa for 3 months in 1993. I loved it even though at the time it was quite politically volatile. So I was really looking forward to heading back there last month. It had been a while, I'm not arguing that. When I was lying on a beach in Cape Town on April 10th 1993, Chris Hani was assassinated. There were riots in Cape Town - while we lay on the beach - first we knew of it was on the news that night. 

So - returning 22 years later (almost to the day) I was interested to see what changes had occurred. But mostly I was going for the animals. The wildlife in South Africa in incredible and in 1993 I ran out of money and never got to see Kruger Park. This time I was booked in. 

I was collected at about 6.30am after my flight arrived an hour earlier than planned, while I waited I bought a data card for my phone - it was pretty cheap too!

Reuben arrived and took me to the Orientation Hostel and I was greeted by the lab puppy with no name yet, so cute!

I met up with my good friend and business colleague from Denmark and we headed to the mall which is a short safe walk away, and later we got some dinner before I crashed.

The next morning we headed north to our first project visit. Welgevonden - trust me, pronunciation wise, it's got an F and a CK in there somewhere. We were met by the Project CEO Greg who introduced up to Pippa who was charged with driving us to our accomodation for lunch, and a "safari" drive along the way. 

IMG_0092.jpg

Every few minutes we'd come across more wild animals - roaming free in this huge expanse which is Welgevonden. In the project there are limited numbers of vehicles allowed (and they have to be green) so you don't bump into any other cars (or tourists) along the way. 

Around one corner we stopped as there were two young bull elephants play flighting over a branch. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time, as they played they moved closer to the vehicle, but Greg and Pippa were so knowledgable that we felt safe as houses. 

IMG_0660.jpg

It was totally amazing to see this so close up. Natural behaviour in a natural environment. I'll not look at elephants in a zoo the same every again. 

It took over two hours to get to "lunch" - the reserve is so big you can't get from one point to another without at least an hour safari drive. 

After lunch we were off on another drive to see the volunteer camp. From the camp you would gaze out over the plains (through the fence) and see Rhino grazing and elephants climbing the hills in the distance. Pretty amazing and a vision I won't forget in a hurry. We also came across a air of Rhino sleeping under some shade in the sun, and what I couldn't believe was how peaceful they are. They eat grass and yet they're being poached!

IMG_0103.jpg

I didn't expect it but these Rhino stole my heart too - I couldn't get over how many of these beautiful animals were being killed just for their fingernails (the same stuff their horn is made up of). It's just awful. 

IMG_0632.jpg

Joan and I fell in love with Welgevonden. It's such an amazing place.

IMG_8932.jpg

 

The next day we headed off to the Save The Lions Project further north.

When we arrived it was lunch tome so we were both able to catch up with our volunteers who were there at the time. Matt was eating lunch and you can read his blog here.

Everyone was really enjoying their time there and we got to spend some time over lunch with the owners and find out more about their research into TB and the other great work they do there. 

After lunch we got to go see the cubs which we'd waiting for (very patiently)... I love cats, have one myself at home, but I wasn't sure what to expect from a lion cub. There was a tiger cub as well so we spent about an hour I guess with them while they slept (they sleep alot), and talked to the volunteers there too.

IMG_0150.jpg

Then we went to see the Devils. These are the older "cubs" but they are pretty huge close up. They were loving all the attention and play they got and decided anything was game for chewing on. Including my trousers, camera band, and Joans sneakers. !

IMG_2958.jpg

That night in bed I was woken several times by lions roaring - a very cool but uncanny way to be woken up! It's a lovely place and the volunteers are taken very good care of, which nice meals, great accommodation, lots of photo opportunities and even a swimming pool and bar. One of our Kiwi volunteers had returned after going to a new project and not liking it as much, she was in love with Save The Lions. It's definitely the more luxury kind of project. 

The Soweto Orphanage was next on our list. 

I did not expect to see so many babies!!! And what I found out was even sadder. They can't afford the legal fees to pay lawyers to get the state paperwork swapped over to the orphanage quickly - so by the time it's done the babies are no longer babies, and therefore harder to adopt out, and so they stay there till they turn 18. So sad. 

The volunteers here really do make such a big difference in the lives of those kids living here. 

IMG_0021.jpg

Suddenly it was the weekend and the drive to Kruger was happening the next day... 

Neil collected me and off we drove - about a 6 hour drive from Johannesburg. The countryside changed from looking like Christchurch, to Auckland, to the south Island again - lots of mines, and lots of townships along the way. 

I got the chance to talk to Neil in depth about why he thought the perception of South Africa (for many) was that it was unsafe. It's really my mission to help others realise it's no more unsafe than NZ. Admit it there are some places at home you just don't go after sunset - on your own - well South Africa is the same. I certainly didn't feel unsafe at any stage - including walking back from the mall in the dark, or walking to the office from the hotel, or travelling through township areas, or the tour of Soweto. 

Arriving into Panzi Lodge we pulled around a corner to see two giraffe walking across the drive way! I love giraffe and zebras and we hadn't seen any up until now - not this close - so OMG - Neil said hop out - you can walk te car park is literally just around the corner - so I did. I'll never forget that day!

IMG_9012.jpg

4am the next morning - in our amazing tree cabins we set off before sunrise into Kruger Park. I took 2000 photos and we saw the Big 5 - Buffalo, Leopard (up a tree), Lion, Elephant and Rhino. 

 

Plus about a million photos of giraffe and zebras!

It's amazing to think this is the only place in South Africa that wild animals roam (apart from private reserves) and the expanse is really unfathomable. It's also sad to hear all the buffalo have TB, and the lions do too from eating the buffalo, and that there is poaching that goes on within Kruger. Not everyone will see a rhino in real life. I have. And I'll always treasure that - even though I feel helpless in the fight against poaching. 

Neil was telling me that he could take a van into a township (very poor village) and fill it with guys who would kill a rhino for $50. Of course the horn is sold for thousands by organised crime, so it's the poor of South Africa that are being used as the poachers. Very sad. Very sad indeed. 

But in saying that - not everyone feels like that and there is alot that volunteers can do to help educate the locals on the value of animals. 

IMG_0318.jpg

If you'd like to get your heart stolen by South Africa please take a look at some of these amazing volunteer projects.

Welegvonden Big 5

Kruger Tour Add on Package

Save The Lions Project

Soweto Orphanage

and the photos... did I mention the photos??

IMG_0174.jpg

IMG_0398.jpg

South Africa will steal your heart

Visiting several volunteer projects in South Africa is a really tough part of my job. :-) Not only do I get to catch up with some awesome kiwis on the projects but I get to return to South Africa once again.

Warning - South Africa will steal a little piece of your heart. 

You must return.

I lived in South Africa for 3 months in 1993. I loved it even though at the time it was quite politically volatile. So I was really looking forward to heading back there last month. It had been a while, I'm not arguing that. When I was lying on a beach in Cape Town on April 10th 1993, Chris Hani was assassinated. There were riots in Cape Town - while we lay on the beach - first we knew of it was on the news that night. 

So - returning 22 years later (almost to the day) I was interested to see what changes had occurred. But mostly I was going for the animals. The wildlife in South Africa in incredible and in 1993 I ran out of money and never got to see Kruger Park. This time I was booked in. 

I was collected at about 6.30am after my flight arrived an hour earlier than planned, while I waited I bought a data card for my phone - it was pretty cheap too!

Reuben arrived and took me to the Orientation Hostel and I was greeted by the lab puppy with no name yet, so cute!

I met up with my good friend and business colleague from Denmark and we headed to the mall which is a short safe walk away, and later we got some dinner before I crashed.

The next morning we headed north to our first project visit. Welgevonden - trust me, pronunciation wise, it's got an F and a CK in there somewhere. We were met by the Project CEO Greg who introduced up to Pippa who was charged with driving us to our accomodation for lunch, and a "safari" drive along the way. 

IMG_0092.jpg

Every few minutes we'd come across more wild animals - roaming free in this huge expanse which is Welgevonden. In the project there are limited numbers of vehicles allowed (and they have to be green) so you don't bump into any other cars (or tourists) along the way. 

Around one corner we stopped as there were two young bull elephants play flighting over a branch. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time, as they played they moved closer to the vehicle, but Greg and Pippa were so knowledgable that we felt safe as houses. 

IMG_0660.jpg

It was totally amazing to see this so close up. Natural behaviour in a natural environment. I'll not look at elephants in a zoo the same every again. 

It took over two hours to get to "lunch" - the reserve is so big you can't get from one point to another without at least an hour safari drive. 

After lunch we were off on another drive to see the volunteer camp. From the camp you would gaze out over the plains (through the fence) and see Rhino grazing and elephants climbing the hills in the distance. Pretty amazing and a vision I won't forget in a hurry. We also came across a air of Rhino sleeping under some shade in the sun, and what I couldn't believe was how peaceful they are. They eat grass and yet they're being poached!

IMG_0103.jpg

I didn't expect it but these Rhino stole my heart too - I couldn't get over how many of these beautiful animals were being killed just for their fingernails (the same stuff their horn is made up of). It's just awful. 

IMG_0632.jpg

Joan and I fell in love with Welgevonden. It's such an amazing place.

IMG_8932.jpg

 

The next day we headed off to the Save The Lions Project further north.

When we arrived it was lunch tome so we were both able to catch up with our volunteers who were there at the time. Matt was eating lunch and you can read his blog here.

Everyone was really enjoying their time there and we got to spend some time over lunch with the owners and find out more about their research into TB and the other great work they do there. 

After lunch we got to go see the cubs which we'd waiting for (very patiently)... I love cats, have one myself at home, but I wasn't sure what to expect from a lion cub. There was a tiger cub as well so we spent about an hour I guess with them while they slept (they sleep alot), and talked to the volunteers there too.

IMG_0150.jpg

Then we went to see the Devils. These are the older "cubs" but they are pretty huge close up. They were loving all the attention and play they got and decided anything was game for chewing on. Including my trousers, camera band, and Joans sneakers. !

IMG_2958.jpg

That night in bed I was woken several times by lions roaring - a very cool but uncanny way to be woken up! It's a lovely place and the volunteers are taken very good care of, which nice meals, great accommodation, lots of photo opportunities and even a swimming pool and bar. One of our Kiwi volunteers had returned after going to a new project and not liking it as much, she was in love with Save The Lions. It's definitely the more luxury kind of project. 

The Soweto Orphanage was next on our list. 

I did not expect to see so many babies!!! And what I found out was even sadder. They can't afford the legal fees to pay lawyers to get the state paperwork swapped over to the orphanage quickly - so by the time it's done the babies are no longer babies, and therefore harder to adopt out, and so they stay there till they turn 18. So sad. 

The volunteers here really do make such a big difference in the lives of those kids living here. 

IMG_0021.jpg

Suddenly it was the weekend and the drive to Kruger was happening the next day... 

Neil collected me and off we drove - about a 6 hour drive from Johannesburg. The countryside changed from looking like Christchurch, to Auckland, to the south Island again - lots of mines, and lots of townships along the way. 

I got the chance to talk to Neil in depth about why he thought the perception of South Africa (for many) was that it was unsafe. It's really my mission to help others realise it's no more unsafe than NZ. Admit it there are some places at home you just don't go after sunset - on your own - well South Africa is the same. I certainly didn't feel unsafe at any stage - including walking back from the mall in the dark, or walking to the office from the hotel, or travelling through township areas, or the tour of Soweto. 

Arriving into Panzi Lodge we pulled around a corner to see two giraffe walking across the drive way! I love giraffe and zebras and we hadn't seen any up until now - not this close - so OMG - Neil said hop out - you can walk te car park is literally just around the corner - so I did. I'll never forget that day!

IMG_9012.jpg

4am the next morning - in our amazing tree cabins we set off before sunrise into Kruger Park. I took 2000 photos and we saw the Big 5 - Buffalo, Leopard (up a tree), Lion, Elephant and Rhino. 

 

Plus about a million photos of giraffe and zebras!

It's amazing to think this is the only place in South Africa that wild animals roam (apart from private reserves) and the expanse is really unfathomable. It's also sad to hear all the buffalo have TB, and the lions do too from eating the buffalo, and that there is poaching that goes on within Kruger. Not everyone will see a rhino in real life. I have. And I'll always treasure that - even though I feel helpless in the fight against poaching. 

Neil was telling me that he could take a van into a township (very poor village) and fill it with guys who would kill a rhino for $50. Of course the horn is sold for thousands by organised crime, so it's the poor of South Africa that are being used as the poachers. Very sad. Very sad indeed. 

But in saying that - not everyone feels like that and there is alot that volunteers can do to help educate the locals on the value of animals. 

IMG_0318.jpg

If you'd like to get your heart stolen by South Africa please take a look at some of these amazing volunteer projects.

Welegvonden Big 5

Kruger Tour Add on Package

Save The Lions Project

Soweto Orphanage

and the photos... did I mention the photos??

IMG_0174.jpg

IMG_0398.jpg

South Africa will steal your heart

What do you think? Love to hear your comments!

Name *
Subscribe
Comment *

Related Articles

Find the Perfect Balance in Bali

Find the Perfect Balance in Bali

Date:Friday, 3 November 2017

If you need to escape from reality for a while, Bali is the perfect place. It’s beautiful beaches and spectacular natural sites, combined with the warm and welcoming Balinese people, make it the ...

Events in Canada You Need to Know About

Events in Canada You Need to Know About

Date:Thursday, 2 November 2017

If you’re thinking of heading to Canada, make sure you add these events to your diary! ...

Alicia's Experience in South Africa

Alicia's Experience in South Africa

Date:Thursday, 26 October 2017

I always wanted to do a project with animals and I really wanted to help volunteer to protect them! Not many people get to say they experienced wildlife so hands on. I thought the work would be more ...

 
 
 
We'll find you the perfect job overseas.
 
Copyright © 2001 - Nannies Abroad Limited trading as International Working Holidays. All rights reserved  |  Website Design by Labyrinth Solutions  |  Content Management by Contegro
International Working Holidays™, International Working Holidays Logo, Nannies Abroad™ and Nannies Abroad Logo are trade marks of Nannies Abroad Limited trading as International Working Holidays.