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South Africa – Part I

Warning: big post ahead.

South Africa. Four years ago it made me think of Shakira and vuvuzelas

A year later, that changed. Thankfully. South Africa is so much more than that.

Even though I didn’t see as much as I wanted, it was enough to make me realise that I want to go back. Even though I was almost attacked by a buffalo. All cool, still friends.

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I went there only knowing how to tell people to go “fly with the pigs”, which means I at least knew how to say pigs and fly. Obviously, that wouldn’t help me engage in a conversation with the locals. Au contraire.

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Nowadays, I know how to say “Cool”, “Please, “Thank you” and “Bug”, which means I can now tell people to go “fly with pigs, please” and, after that, I can say “cool, thanks”. It’s not the nicer thing I can say, nor does it make me feel as one with my peers, but it’s better than nothing.

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But back to South Africa. That country is beautiful as hell. There’s so much… space, everywhere you look at, the landscapes go on and on and on. Like it could never end. And the fact that you can see so many animals right beside you. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. It stops being excited when you have an elephant ready to charge in front of your car. When that happens it’s only scary. But fascinating.

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I was lucky enough to spend my time there with people who know the country. And sometimes that makes all the difference. It was also different to spend Christmas in a t-shirt and shorts. I guess I don’t need to go to Australia anymore.

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I think that, above all, what made this trip even more rich was everything that I learnt. And it taught me to respect the animals even more. In spite of all the game lodges that cover the country (and that I had the opportunity to visit, even though I’m totally against hunting), I learnt that, in most things, when it’s not money driven, they also have respect for the animals, in a way different than mine.

The images you see here are mainly from Kruger and my trip there. It was at Kruger that I also realised that when the respect I talked about before doesn’t exist, it may bring some consequences… Quite nasty. Like that story that our guide told us of his coworker who, during the last tour of the day, decided to stop for a smoke and ended up being dragged and killed by a leopard. The lesson here is: if you’re visiting Kruger, always respect what the guides say even though the guides don’t respect what they say. Safety first

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It’s almost impossible not to feel like you’re intruding when you drive around Kruger. Like that is not our place to be. But at the same time, you feel like if you’re part of something bigger. It makes you put things into perspective.

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035_SouthAfricaDepois desta epifania, voltemos ao concreto. Infelizmente só estive no Kruger durante um dia e não vi sequer metade. É um sítio gigantesco e lindo, onde espero voltar para passar lá a noite.

I managed to see 4 of the big five – lions, elephants, buffalo (these maybe a bit too close) and rhinoceros. I didn’t see leopards, which apparently are the ninjas of the jungle. Attention kids, this is not like going to the Zoo. At all. Even though here lions do what all cats do: sleep.

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Buffalo, when seen from afar, look very bored, but somehow friendly and with an amazing hairdo. Which is actually horns.

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046_SouthAfrica 047_SouthAfrica 048_SouthAfrica 049_SouthAfrica 050_SouthAfrica 051_SouthAfrica I was in South Africa for 3 weeks. And this trip for, in and from Kruger was so intense. We managed to do everything in two days that felt like a week. One of them was the trip to get to Kruger when we ended up getting there and finding out that it had closed 15 minutes before. After that we woke up at 5am to go to the sunrise guided tour, we left Kruger at lunchtime and continued our trip through God’s Window and other places that I’ll show in the other post. We ended those two days in Pilgrim’s Rest, where I took this last picture, It’s a place that looks like it was part of the wild wild west. It’s somehow stuck in time.

When I was editing these pictures, I realised that I miss South Africa and I want to get back there as soon as possible.
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