It’s 4:59am at the Kruger Park, the camp gates are about to open and we just can’t wait. Dawn breaks over the savanna and clasping tin cups of hot coffee and marmalade rusks we head for the Lion highway. What delights await us?
Reunited with Bow Wow we made for recently revived Bulembu, once an asbestos mining town and now home to over two hundred AIDS orphans.
In our support of the charity Back to Africa, we visited their Roan Project at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Stephen Fry was there with the BBC filming an episode of Last Chance to See but even he was out shone by the charismatic Roan Antelopes. We were honoured to spend time with Ted Reilly, Swaziland’s pioneer nature conservationist who provided refuge for the Kingdom’s creatures when they had nowhere else to turn.
We catch soccer fever and make more furry friends in balmy Durban. I pass my state vet inspection without even a solitary flea. Lachlan is forced to carry me through a throng of amused football supporters but we are rewarded with a view of the staggering Moses Mandhiba stadium. We enter Swaziland to begin the most important phase of our quest.
High in the Lesotho mountains we meet South African chef, Justin Bonello and the Cooked in Africa crew. This chance encounter makes us feel, more than ever, that we are on the right track and that perhaps our destiny is written in the stars. We contemplate how, like life, every great road trip is about the journey, not the destination and like every great recipe, there are certain key ingredients that are required…
Lachlan receives a proposition from a frisky old lady with blood shot eyes, an afro goatee and more than a faint whiff of beer on her breath. Bow Wow alerts us to an intruder by doing his best Scrappy Doo impersonation and then later mysteriously disappears. We finally find a public telephone and call home but as per usual the line to Westridge is engaged.
Our first border crossing successfully behind us, we experience Lesotho’s unique beauty and simpler way of life that is both humbling and inspiring. We meet a brave Frenchman, finally understand why the Queen waves in the gentle way that she does and Bow Wow learns an important lesson.
Lachlan does the World’s highest bungy jump and Bow Wow joins a crew of salty surf mutts at J Bay which leads to a chance encounter with rock star scientist Brian Cox. We spend a few luxurious nights with Lucie’s relatives stocking up on biltong and gaining invaluable advice for the trip ahead. Humbled by the Wild Coast we can feel the bittersweet beauty of Africa’s extremes already getting under our skin and touching our hearts.
We finally left, as ready as we would ever be, on May the 23rd with only two weeks to get to Lesotho and renew our visas! Following the infamous Route 62, we stayed in quirky Montagu, had a drink at the incongruous Ronnie’s Sex Shop, attempted to ride an ostrich and squeezed through a labyrinth of tiny gaps deep underground at the Cango Caves.