Africa and Europe parted by a little virus

Hello, Bonjour and Servus still from Germany, unfortunately I couldn’t move to Cape Town yet. Mid-March I applied for my working permit at the South African embassy and I was very close of stepping into a plane and move to the African continent. Just before this vicious little virus, called Corona, had made an appearance in Europe. However, I had hope the embassy would still work its way through my visa application, even when I read the statement by president C. Ramaphosa that no tourist visa shall be further worked on. By mid-May I received a big letter that I recognized to be from the embassy. It contained my passport but no visa, no other explanations, nothing. I checked my passport 10 times and more but still no visa that I could find. Such a dissapointing answer.

By now, I still haven’t received any other Information from the embassy, they finally opened up again but can’t tell me anything. So, I suppose once they will start working on visa applications the whole process will start again. This is really frustrating. But luckily I get to start my new job for the company in Cape Town from my home office here in Germany. This surely won’t be easy as I don’t know anyone from my team or any other colleagues. And how it looks like at the moment, it seems there won’t be any international flights to South Africa any time soon. With the embassy still not working on any visa applications, I am a bit clueless when this journey will actually start.

In the meantime what am I doing during these times when I am fully ready to go, longing for Africa but can’t fly to any of the countries I want to? Well, I started reading plenty of guiding and tracking books that explain specific features for typical African animals, their tracks, calls and even the different grasses growing in Southern Africa. Also, I am glad to be able to participate in the fun digital tracking games by James Varden from Ride Zimbabwe. Every now and then he is posting tracks that he has found in the bush with the question which animal belongs to the spoor. It surely is fun and a challenge trying to match the picture to one of the tracks in my books. Besides, I exchanged with Josephin on my Cape Town adventure on her podcast, which surely was lots of fun. You can listen to it on her Bushbaby podcast channel.

Furthermore, I thought this is actually a very good opportunity to donate money to the ones that are in need. This crisis hits all of us, but some are just way more affected than others as they struggled already before the crisis for their well-being. There is so much help needed and it’s never easy to decide which project, which organisation or which person you would like to support. However, it’s important that the money reaches the specific group you have chosen. That’s why I have decided to support the „My Beautiful Home“ project in Matopos, close to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. This is an annual competition aiming to encourage and reward the practice of decorating huts in the traditional way using natural pigments such as ash, coal and soil as a mean of highlighting and maintaining the art and culture of the area. From my volunteering time in Zimbabwe I know that Ride Zimbabwe is engaged in that project and supports the local community. So, if you have always wondered how you can contribute to conservation this might be your call! Any donation will be much appreciated and help the Ndebele people in Matabeleland. If you are interested, please let me know until end of July.

And then, I also found a new way to travel through Africa, by cooking. The African kitchen has so much to offer and is really divers. I have tried already several dishes, such as Mbatata from Malawi, Sweet potato mash from Zimbabwe and Vipopo from Zanzibar. Mbatata is similar to baked minced meat with potatoes, a really delicious dish. The Vipopo however, wasn’t my favorite but I am sure it was probably the way I did it as I haven’t heard about it before.

Last but not least, it’s always good if you have some memories to dwell on. Hence the happier I am to have taken so many pictures from my travelling throughout Southern Africa that I can click through. The endless landscapes of Namibia never gets old, while I can still feel the beat of the elephant herd in the bushes when I drove through Moremi, this was definitely a highlight in Botswana. To feel the Victoria falls and see the sun setting behind the zambezi certainly is a must for Zimbabwe, while Hwange National Park shows you the true African wilderness. Hearing the hyena calls or the rumbling stomaches of the elephants next to your tiny tent will surely bring you closer to nature. I will never forget the feeling when I was sitting on my horse when I first spotted a big cat, a lioness with its teenage cubs. Unforgettable memories I am very thankful for.

If you want to see more pictures of Southern Africa, check out my gallery – enjoy!

My newest lessons learned during the corona mess:

  1. Confusion is the new normal;
  2. Stay well connected with your neighbours, they might be the only ones providing you with toilet papers;
  3. One day you might have a visa, next day it’s being revoked.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, let’s hope for some quick recovery from the COVID-19 – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

How to manage the visa struggle

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from my newest adventure of moving from Europe to South Africa, Cape Town. Corona virus is not a friendly helper, but that’s a whole different story. In this blog I want to focus on advices how to get a visa, which is already an interesting battle itself.

When deciding to leave a continent with family and friends that you know behind, you go through many stages; from being euphoric to worried to happy. And then it comes: the naughty visa application. Some say it’s worse than going to the dentist, some say it’s random and unfair, I say it’s a struggle to survive even if you think you might be prepared for it.

First things first, you have to find out which visa application form is the one you need to correctly fill out. This really is a bigger step than thought if you have no one with experience to tell you. Afterwards, you need to gather all documents and proofs demanded by the application form. Now this really is a masterpiece of its one, almost impossible if you don’t have any competent help and leading to lovely, time-consuming trips to the embassy. Most of the time you can’t rely on help of the employees of the embassy so make sure you got all your paperwork done correctly.

Every visa application process is different and it even differs from embassy to embassy for the same country. So here my advice if you want to survive the visa application process efficiently when applying for an intra-company work visa from Germany to South Africa, Cape Town:

  • Check out which embassy is the one you need to go to (Berlin for whole Germany except Bavaria. If you live in Bavaria, Munich is responsible for you).
  • Make sure the intra-company work visa is applicable for you. This should always be the case if your German employer sends you to Cape Town to a branch or subsidiary within the group and you don’t quit your job in Germany but will be re-employed after the expatriation time in South Africa.
  • Download the application form from the SA embassy website.
  • Get a folder ready for all documents to come.
  • Gather all documents mentioned in the visa application. This is:
  1. passports from all nationalities you have,
  2. copies of all your passports,
  3. download and print the form DHA-1738 and fill it out,
  4. biometric picture not older than 6 months,
  5. a letter of the branch / affiliate in South Africa confirming the transfer and specifying whether your position is junior or senior. This needs to specify your new occupation and the relationship between your German employer and the one in South Africa. Documentary proof is likely to be asked, so better be already prepared with the registration documentation issued by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPS) for the South African company. Furthermore, a translated trade register excerpt for the German company will be needed. Most likely you will also be asked to present an organogram to show the relationship between the German and South African company, best to show as well your current and future position and how they are related,
  6. a written undertaking by the South African company so ensure all points mentioned under this number in the application,
  7. a plan developed by the South African company to transfer your skills to a local citizen incl. currently certified copies of their identity with their ID numbers. If you don’t present the original letters but copies that are sent to you via email, the HR person signing all those letters need to present a certified passport copy as well,
  8. a confirmation of your German employer that you will be transferred to the South African company, mentioning the time period for your stay,
  9. your original contract translated into English and certified by a sworn translator incl. an attached copy to it. As a back up take a copy of your original contract. Moreover, you need your original assignment letter or contract for your new position in South Africa,
  10. original police clearance certificate,
  11. a signed medical report as provided on the website of the embassy,
  12. a signed radiological report as provided on the website of the embassy,
  13. if you have children accompanying you, take a proof of parental responsibilities with you,
  14. if a spouse is accompanying you, take your marriage certificate translated into English and certified by a sworn translator with you,
  15. if you travel through a yellow fever country, take your vaccination proof with you,
  16. proof of payment of the application fee 5 working days before your application in the embassy,
  17. an A4-size envelope franked with the Express easy DHL online label (0,5kg).

Make sure all HR departments from all countries involved, provide you the right documents. Check and check again bevor booking your transfer to the embassy. YOU need to go to the embassy and YOU will be the one who needs to go again if anything is missing. Keep that in mind.

Print your documents in good quality, the embassy won’t print anything for you.

If you think you got all the papers together and are ready for the application, check again if you really got it all correctly together before heading to the embassy. The one in Berlin opens at 9.00am every day but make sure to be there no later than 8.30am to avoid long waiting queues. Anyways you must be in the embassy before 11.30am or your application will not be processed that day and you need to come again. Keep also in mind that no visa application will be processed on Wednesday in Berlin.


So when you have finally arrived in the embassy and received a waiting number, be patient and just give a short prayer to god. This might raise your chances. Once it’s your turn you will need to hand over all documents you have gathered in the correct sequence as mentioned according to the application form, this is essential to have the employees‘ goodwill at least. Then you be patient and wait until your application is thoroughly checked and you are called again.

This now is the moment of truth, was all your preparation good enough or will you go back home and redo your homework more carefully again? Whatever will be missing or additionally required by the embassy is going to be highlighted, so hope for no highlights at all. If your application will go through immediately, count yourself as very much privileged and well organized while understanding the language of bureaucracy to the highest standard. Congratulations! Now you walk out the embassy and spoil yourself with some bubbles before a long period of patience, patience and patience.

If you have to come again to the embassy, don’t worry this is the normal case. For the next time however, bring the same forms with you where the employer of the embassy has left the marks, highlights and information. Do not use a new version. This time when walking into the embassy, pray again that it will be all to the satisfaction of the embassy. If this will be the case, you can be happy and be patient as well. From now on it might take a while until you hold your visa in your hands – if no corona virus comes in between to make a perfect mess.

My newest lessons learned:

  1. Rely on help – relocation agencies might know the interpretation of bureaucracy language or even a sworn translator,
  2. You can’t check enough – not even your own helpers,
  3. Be an early bird – arrive early at the embassy and wait patiently until they open in front of the gates.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

Moving not moving

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from some uncertain times all over the world. Friday the 13th of March seemed to be such a lucky day for me. I was at the South African embassy in Berlin trying to apply for my working permit visa for a second time. This time my request went through, I could provide all documents to the satisfaction of the embassy and was as happy as I could be (I will post my advices on my next post). Now, just a couple of days later, it looks all so different.

Ramaphosa declares National State of Disaster, enforces travel bans amid COVID-19 pandemic

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the Republic of South Africa has announced the inevitable raft of measures to come: the cabinet has decided to enforce travel bans on foreign nationals from high-risk countries, such as Germany. The ban is effective from 18 Match 2020. First of all it does feel weird to see that Germany is being declared as a high-risk country in many parts of our world. Second, which is even more important, with 61 confirmed cases as per today, the numbers of infected COVID 19 cases keep rising in South Africa as well. When thinking of the living circumstances of a huge number of people in the townships it is of utmost importance to get this virus under control.

However, it hit me quite hard when I read the next few words that the cabinet has also decided to revoke visas of foreign nationals from high-risk countries and that South Africa will not be issuing visas to foreigners from those countries. Well, this really are some news to be digested as I struggled so much to finally apply for my working visa and a few days later the effort was actually worth nothing. Here I go, not knowing to the full extend what this will mean for my move to Cape Town. The next weeks, I believe I, will have to make a plan just as about the whole rest of the world.

I hope everyone stays safe, thinks of others that might be very much in danger if infected with this virus and our small to medium sized operators (e.g. in the tourism branch) that are at risk to survive this crisis. I know it’s not easy to think about holidays and it might be easier to cancel it all instead of postponing. But keep in mind that cancellations could mean for small operators that we will not find them on the market anymore after the world has overcome COVID 19. There will hopefully be a time after the virus full of joy and holidays. When postponing instead of cancelling you would also have something to look ahead already now while saving others as well.

Until I know what this travel ban will bring to me, I keep reminiscing about my last holiday in Cape Town, the city I will hopefully call home one day.

My lessons learned:

  1. Visas are fragile – they can open you doors on one day and close them the next;
  2. Making a plan – becomes suddenly a new important part of life in Europe;
  3. Embassy struggles seem to be easy – when you compare them to corona.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

Off to settle down in Mother City

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from a new adventure, that is already lining up at the horizon: I will move to another continent and start living and working in Cape Town, South Africa! It’s finally been settled and a new chapter will soon present other kinds of adventures to me. Everything is going to be quick now, if I manage to survive the visa process (see next blog with advices I wish someone could have given me beforehand). April will be the first month where my new home will be in the Rainbow Nation. Being basically addicted to Africa and its beautiful landscapes, this is a dream come true for me. I can still not believe how this all fits into perfect shape.

A year ago, I was packing bags and preparing myself for an unforgettable time in Zimbabwe, where I was volunteering in the bushlands of the private game reserve Cawston Wildlife Estate for three months.

Not even one and a half years ago, I got my bags ready for Cape Town, to spent amazing holidays in „Slaapstad“. It was there, where I started to fall in love with the city home to the iconic Table Mountain and framed by white beaches. It was then, when I thought „This is the city I want to work and spend my life“. But you know, I thought it was just one of these sentences you tell yourself, you shortly dream about, then you forget and move on with your real life. This time it was however bound to be different. This time my dream moved on and worked its way into my reality by mysterious and perfect ways. This time my dream changes my live!

Soon, I will start working for my German employer in South Africa, that sends me off to one of the most southern points, to Mother City and I am more than delighted. Sometimes, I just thank god for his ideas of paths for my live. Sometimes, I just can’t believe to be so very lucky to have a wonderful husband who made everything possible to join me into the Rainbow Nation. It still sounds like a surreal dream to me, that I will soon be living in Africa, in an extraordinary country, in between the famous moutain, the largest wine route and the wild ocean.

„Be prepared to fall in love“, was what I was told before I headed to Cape Town for my first time. „Be prepared to settle in“, is what I am looking for now. I do know it’s not going to be easy all times and it surely will be a huge change to live in a country with economical, political and historical challenges. But here I come loadshedding, and I am happy for that move. I can’t wait to live my African dream! Cape Town surely isn’t like the African bush I always long for and South Africa surely isn’t the same as the wild Zimbabwe. However, Mother City and the Rainbow Nation can offer landscapes equally beautiful and wildlife sightings equally adventurous as in the untouched ground of Zim. But also crime rates and offenses to a different level.

Be a warrior not a worrier!

Anonymous

So how best to prepare for a move from a safe country in Europe to an adventurous one in Africa?

  • Well, first to settle all important details with the employer;
  • Second, be patient, patient and patient;
  • Get the visa done and again be patient;
  • Then, get the household packed into plenty of little boxes;
  • Gather information about what can be imported, what is restricted and how much are the taxes on imported goods;
  • Fill in endless forms of never ending paper work;
  • And again, be patient, patient and patient;
  • Write a summary of all stock to be brought into South Africa (all for the lovely customs procedure).

My lessons learned:

  1. Fight for your dreams – they will come true, eventually;
  2. Don’t start worrying too early – it only takes away your peace and joy of today;
  3. Survive the visa process – be prepared to spend plenty of joyful time in the embassy.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

Giving thanks and helping others

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Matabeleland Animal Rescue & Equine Sanctuary (MARES ZIM) based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which is an organisation saving donkeys and horses that are badly injured, abandonned or not treated correctly by their owners. It was a Voluntary Private Organisation formed in the early 2000’s during the land claims where many farmers were kicked off their farms and were unable to take their animals, including horses. Since then, Claire Einhorn dedicates her life to save the lives of these animals and leads now this registered charity in a politically tormented country that is suffering from a very bad drought this year. Her activities range from rescuing, rehabilitating and providing supplies for mainly donkeys and horses, which she does with her full heart and amazing local employees that help her.

This time of year I would like to make a donation towards her sanctuary and everyone who would like to join in, please contact me. Following, I will give you a bit more insights into her work and charity.

During my three months volunteering time in Zimbabwe, I could work with Claire for about two weeks and helped trying to cure a foal named Bandi (see my blog post). Claire showed me how to work with animals that suffered from bad treatments, how to gain back their trust and which medical treatment they need. She even showed me how to work with syringes and how to do an intravenous injection (IV). All throughout my stay in Zimbabwe she was there for me and helped me, even when I was about 100 kms away from her.

Helping all these badly injured animals, brings not only joy, but also plenty of moments of sorrow, when you don’t know what the future will bring for them. All the treatments are very expensive and need a lot of time dedicated to each and every patient.

Claire has 25-45 donkeys at her sanctuary at all time, depending how many donkeys are abandoned or can find a nice home somewhere else. Further, her stables hold about 8-12 horses. All of these animals have reached her sanctuary for the same reason: to have a last chance to survive. In order to keep the sanctuary going, Claire runs a very successful restaurant close by: Déjà vue. However, money is always a short supply when you have so many sick animals that need plenty of care. Therefore, I want to support her with a donation to her charity, if you are also interested in her work and would like to support her, let me know or even donate directly via her website.

Claire will be very happy to show you her work through videos, photos or documentations on her facebook page or instagram. Let’s share this beautiful, holly christmas time with others in need and bring a bit of the christmas spirit to Southern Africa.

My lessons learned:

  1. If you are dedicated with your full heart, you can make a huge difference and save other’s life.
  2. Saving one donkey won’t change the world but it will change the world for that donkey.
  3. Since its formation MARES has rescued and rehabilitated many animals until December 2019 – more than 350 donkeys, 280 hores and 60 other animals.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

Another fine day

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, eSwatini (former Swaziland). Shortly after I had left Mkhaya Game Park I wanted to overtake a big, slow truck that was in front of me. Think well before doing such a maneuvre in this little African kingdom!

After a while I tried the maneuver on a hilltop ignoring the double solid line on the road indicating that there is no overtaking allowed. Here it happened. My luck was gone and the police car was just waiting at the border of the road waving me to the side. Oh oh, not good as I knew I committed a fault of driving – nothing I wanted to do in Southern Africa, as the arbitrariness of the police is already bad enough. Here I was now, unsure what was going to happen.

The officer was friendly, telling me that I was driving recklessly and he will charge me for this offense. 120 ZAR should I pay after showing my license and following him to his car. He gave me a receipt and suddenly decided that he just wanted to have 60 ZAR, I had no idea what made him change his mind but I was happy with his decision and the charge. Unsure if it was all correct and legal but it definitely seemed reasonable and the officer was kind, so nothing to complain about. It seems that eSwatini has some well mannered police officers.

Another hour of driving passed by without any problems before I reached my destination: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Happy to have arrived, I chose a nice campspot under the trees and enjoyed a braai evening. Next day started slow with a game drive on my own through the reserve. My way led me up the hills to the ridge trail where I started a short hike along the ridge up to the summit of what I assume was referred to the execution rock. The view was splendid, I could see a huge part of the park. 

From here, I was walking back to the car to spot some zebras, wildebeests, nyalas, kudus, crocodiles and beautiful birds. My goal was now to reach Reilly‘s rock where I had to drive through a protected area, this was the roan antelope project and I spotted my first roan antelopes here in eSwatini. Beautiful animals but severely endangered, unfortunately. Here they can breed in a protected environment together with waterbucks and even some springboks. For my very first time, I spotted plenty of blessboks. A nice, little reserve but somehow it didn’t fascinate me like the other ones. Well it’s going to be my last day and night in eSwatini so I might be ready for the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg now.

Early next morning I was on my way to Joburg, South Africa to stay at a friends house that I know from my volunteering time in Zimbabwe where I stayed at Cawston Wildlife Estate. Again, shortly after I started my journey a police officer waived his hands at me; I needed to stop. This time I got caught speeding. Oh oh, he said I did 92 km/h instead of 80 km/h. And again it was a fine of 120 ZAR that the officer was reducing to 60 ZAR before I could drive on. Lucky me, in eSwatini the fines are not too bad, the corruption level seems to be lower and the police officers are very friendly. All in all a very positive experience in this beautiful country.

After crossing borders easily, I continued my journey back in South Africa heading for Joburg with mixed feelings. But everything went just fine – at least for me, not for everyone. After having crossed the border I saw a bad car accident that must have just happened. One SUV was turned upside down with the driver standing outside, the front passenger had no chance for surviving. The whole scene was mind-disturbing. Once I passed the car a few minutes later the ambulance crossed my way, I knew already they are coming too late this time. I still hope this man has a pain-free life in heaven.

Some hours later I arrived in the big city and I stayed in a very gorgeous area, happy to meet up with friends and enjoying some amazing lamb shacks for dinner. It’s my last night in South Africa, tomorrow my flight for Mauritius will bring me a step closer towards home. I am not yet ready for this stunning journey to come to the inevitable end but I guess I have to.

I hope for some sunny and relaxing days in Mauritius, where I can reflect about all the fascinating travel experiences I had during the last few months and who knows what is to come next…

May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.

Nelson Mandela

My new lessons learned during my travels through eSwatini big game parks:

  1. Be prepared for dancing – every evening you can join a traditional eSwatini dance at the restaurant lodge;
  2. The ridge trail is a nice hike offering a splendid view on the reserve;
  3. Roan antelopes used to be extinct in eSwatini – due to a conservation project you can now find lots of them, which originally were donated from Cologne Zoo (way to go, Germany!).

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

All about wildlife

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from Mkhaya Game Reserve, eSwatini (former Swaziland). After a short morning drive to this other big game park, I was greeted by some fabulous sable antelopes close to the entrance gate.

My car needed to stay safely at the main gate while my personal game drive started. Plenty of nyalas came into sight and I spotted my first black grey Big Five one followed by some magnificent white ones. A wonderful place and a great start into this reserve! Further, I saw giraffes, zebras, impalas, wildebeests – even a white one, eland antelopes, tsessebes, hippos, crocodiles and tracks of buffaloes. At one point the car broke down, luckily the guide knew quickly that it must be the pointer apparently and within a couple of minutes the driving continued and I did not have to spent the night in the open bush.

For lunch, some nyalas joined my table along with some crusted guinea fowls. The camp is magical, operating without electricity only with gas lanterns and candles while the rooms are located in semi-open stone rondavels. Welcome to Stoney Camp!

After my lunch, I spent some time in a hide close to a waterhole to find a rhino bathing in the mud. During the evenning drive, I could spot plenty of wildlife and even a crocodile that had made a kill within the few last hours, a warthog was the unlucky guy that served as dinner for this night.

Next morning was reserved for some game drives and a walking safari. I finally got a shot of the shy tsessebe antelope – unbelievable, it’s very hard to get them in front of your camera lense. The rest was all about the games such as giraffes, nyalas, impalas, wildebeests and even hippos as well as crocodiles. Of course, I spotted also some beautiful grey Big Five ones while they were taking a muddy bath. It was a very relaxed day full of great wildlife sightings that I truely enjoyed before heading further west to the last of the three big game parks in eSwatini: Mlilwane.

One cannot resist the lure of Africa

Rudyard Kipling

My new lessons learned during my travels through Mkhaya Game Reserve:

  1. You should know the basics of car engineering – otherwise you might find yourself sleeping in the bush;
  2. Spot well on the game drives – it’s the only reserve in eSwatini where you can find some white wildebeests;
  3. Enjoy cute company during lunch – plenty of nyalas will join you.  

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

From road block to road block to grey rock

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from Hlane Royal National Park, eSwatini (former Swaziland). I have left Mozambique on a rainy day to head westwards on some muddy and sandy roads to cross the border at Goba and enter one of the last kingdoms of Africa.

During this 5 hour journey I had the challenge of passing through 3 Mozambiquan road blocks that I was a bit scared of I have to admit. The first road blocking police officer was not interested in my car, the second however waived me to stop. „Oh geeee“, I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with the cops here. One of the three men greeted me with a „Boa tarde“ – „Please let him speak English“! Luckily he did, started chatting and wanting to know from where I came and where I was going to, while two of his colleagues went with their heavy machine guns towards the back of my car. I tried to keep an eye on both of them through my side mirrors at the same time while trying to follow his nice conversation that I was not too sure where it was heading towards. The officer next to my window explained me he was just doing his job, well yes I could see that… still wondering what he wanted from me.

Finally, he asked if I had some water and I wanted to hand him my half full bottle but this obviously didn’t impress him. Therefore, I asked if he wanted to have some biskuits instead and he took them gleefully! Bribing the police I guess is the correct word for it, but luckily nothing else followed and I could drive off. Just to stumble into my third control but these guys showed no interest, which was perfectly fine for me as I had enough of my shares regarding the road blocks.

The eSwatini border came closer and closer, any other block roads more and more unlikely until I happily arrived at the little border post at Goba. I got my paper work and stamps done at the Mozambiquan side – by now I knew the all too well -, drove a few meters to the eSwatini immigrations office and checked in. Here I was eSwatini! I have to say this little kingdom greeted me with open arms and left me speechless: I could pay the 50 ZAR entry fee via credit card, normally it’s only cash that is ruling at borders in Southern Africa. Plus the officers were very efficient, friendly and working incredibly fast. I really couldn’t believe I was queuing in a line that was moving that quickly! Defintely the fastest and most efficient border crossing – such a lovely start!

A few minutes after the border another military road block was already waiting for me, I guess it’s my special, lucky day! So this time I had to stop and tell the officer my destination, how long I would stay and what was planned, which seemed ok for him as I planned 5 nights in this little country what is often only used as a „drive through“. This made him speak the magical words „drive off“. That was easy! 

I finally arrived at Hlane Royal National Reserve early afternoon to check in Ndlovu camp and set up my rooftop tent. It’s a lovely campsite without electricity but with beautiful candle lights. During the early evening I checked out the waterhole and was soon greeted by 4 grey Big Five ones, 3 adults and one little baby. Such a unique sighting, so rare I couldn’t believe it. This was the perfect ending for my long day.

Next morning started with a morning walk, I was on the hunt for big game and learnt a lot about trees, ants and elephant poop. Suddenly, there was a huge fresh dung place and here they were: 2 grey, adult females laying on the ground like solid rocks. They were peacefully resting not even noticing us walking around them. What a gorgeous sighting this morning!

The rest of the day I was busy with my own game drive through the reserve and occupied opening gates and spotting games such as giraffes, nyalas, impalas, zebras, waterbucks and wildebeests. Once the afternoon sun started to hit the bushveld with fantastic orange colour, two big grey ones just appeared out of the bushes and walked in front of my car. I had the pleasure to watch them for quite a while until they walked off. Shortly after another 2 grey, big beauties were laying lazily on the ground enjoying each other’s company.

Another amazing day that finished with 3 grey adults laying in the golden sun by the waterhole. Just incredible that I could witness all of them on this fantastic game drive day!

Back in my camp I got blessed again with the sighting of 3 adult grey ones accompanied by a smaller one, all 4 of them enjoying a good early evening drink before they trotted back into the bushes. Hlane Park definitely showed off with some divine game sights that I truely enjoyed! This excitement will surely continue tomorrow as I will head towards Mkhaya Game Reserve, where 5 game drives / walks with rangers will wait for me.

My new lessons learned during my travels through Hlane Royal National Park:

  1. Book a game drive – only a guided tour can bring you into the area where lions roam;
  2. Prepare yourself to open lots of gates – the park has different sections you will enter;
  3. Look for anthills if you are lost – the hilltop always points towards the North!

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞

On the borderline of corruption and crimes

Hello, Bonjour and Bom Dia from the golden beach in Mozambique. I decided to leave Kruger after 6 nights and an early game drive to hit the border at Komatipoort. This border crossing wasn’t without trouble and unnecessary cash payments. 

The South Aftican side of the border was straight forward but after receiving my gate pass the Mozambiquan side was a hustle and bustle with about 10 people smashing against my car window telling me to stop as they need to sign my pass. I wasn’t too sure about that but after a while I gave them my pass and in that moment it was clear that this wasn’t the most clever thing to do. They charged me 280 ZAR for the car insurance which actually is correct but the other 420 ZAR I payed where just a total rip off. Annoyed, I went to customs to get my visa for another 850 ZAR and my entry stamp. At least the guys had done all the declarations for my vehicle already. So I just needed the last signature on my gate pass, which I got this time from an official police man (blue uniform) and drove off. I just wanted to get out of this chaotic place. Welcome to Mozambique!

As I hit the tar road I relaxed but I was still wondering how many road blocks I would need to go through. I hoped it wouldn’t be many as I really wasn’t in the mood to mess with the corruption here. During the next 4 hours  I was mostly on roads in good conditions and luckily I passed 2 road blocks without any complications. The police officers waived me through, not even interested in my car. The last 6 km was on deep sand the only road leading to Ponta Malongane and my destination, the Tartaruga Maritima. A gorgeous tented camp in the bushes right next to the sandy dunes and the unbelievable long, empty beach with its turquoise water. It was just about looking as if I had found my paradise on this travel route – a lovely place without any other tourists, but amazing landscapes! I have to say I was very relieved to arrive here, find everything easy and the staff just adorable and helpful. The place is a self-catering lodge and I was very happy I decided against all fears to take some vegetables, eggs, milk and amazingly well tasting steaks accross the border, which by the way was an easy task; no one was interested in my fridge.

From the deck at the beach I even spotted a whale in the distance enjoying himself in the ocean. The beach is just incredibly long and beautiful; it allows a walk to Ponta do Ouro the next village which is about 7 km southwards. Ponta do Ouro is more touristique with little shops and restaurants and even one ATM, where I wanted to get some cash as all my cash got ripped off at the border. Unfortunately the ATM didn’t work, the next ATM is in Bela Vista, which is about an hour north and on a toll road where cash is needed. So, I tried different options but nothing worked, in the end I just let time pass at a small bar until magically the ATM started to give out cash again. This is Africa!

The little market in Ponta Malongane is really beautiful and I decided to take a stroll and look around. Everything is hand-made by the people of the community, I could even watch them sitting on a little stool carving gorgeous things out of wood. It’s a lovely place not very touristique and full of nice people trying to earn a living. Of course I couldn’t resist and came back to my tent with plenty of nice souvenirs, that barely fitted in my suitcase.

My new lessons learned during my travels in Mozambique:

  1. Don’t pay more than 280 ZAR for car insurance – at the Komatipoort border lots of unofficial official guys will come for you to make you pay more than needed;
  2. Have enough cash with you – border crossing with visa might be expensive and there is no ATM in Ponta Malongane;
  3. Enjoy a magnificent view of the ocean – you might spot some whales from the kitchen lodge of Tartaruga Maritima!

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and adeus ∞

It’s been a wild dog day

Hello, Bonjour and Sawubona from Kruger National Park, South Africa. The next morning started very early, I wanted to really spot a leopard now.

As I drove, the sun rose and left some fabulous sun rays touching the nature around me when I suddenly spotted a pack of wild dogs on their morning hunt. So blessed to see them, I didn’t except to see these lovely dogs. They were running around and greeting each other to just go off again into the bushes. A bit further two hyenas were strolling around, probably thinking they might get their share if the dogs will be lucky to catch something. Such an amazing start into this day!

I made my way slowly towards the south gate, where the area changed a lot. Just when a big five beauty crossed my way, huge, grey and determined to make his path: a rhino on its morning walk. Unbelievable, what a perfect sighting! More and more animals came into sight: giraffes, zebras, kudus and even nyalas were enjoying themselves today. 

When I got closer to the lower Sabie area the density of water, animals and traffic increased. Buffaloes were laying at the flowing sabie river next to drinking elephants and hippos. Occasionally I could see some crocodiles swimming along and saddle storks trying their best with fishing. This is a very nice area full of wildlife! And then a really heavy traffic jam arose in front of me, there must be something of big attention. After a while I manoeuvred myself to the sighting: 2 lionesses laying directly next to the street, about 7 meters away from my car. They were so beautiful and of course lazy as it was early afternoon. I watched them and had elephants as well as buffaloes to my other side, 3 of the big 5 in just one spot! That’s only possible here in the southern park I assumed. 

This could only be topped by a leopard sighting and there were plenty as I had heard. On my way I stopped to take some shots of crocs, hippos, giraffes, kudus, wildebeests and zebras, continuously heading south towards my camp at Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp. The sun was lowering itself already, turning my surroundings in fantastic reddish colors but no leopard to be seen today. However, I couldn’t believe my luck with all the great game views I did enjoy on this beautiful day. 

My dinner attracted two little bushbabies that were tremendously cute and not shy at all, I had to get a bit louder so they would stay away from my food. So, let’s see what tomorrow will bring.

My new lessons learned during my game drives in Kruger National Park:

  1. Prepare yourself for denser traffic – road congestions are quite common here;
  2. Water brings more animals – lots of gorgeous game are blocking the roads;
  3. You won’t be alone for dinner – surely some cute little bushbabies will observe you carefully!

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives – bye bye, salut and sala kahle ∞