I don’t know where to start posting up for this adventure in Johannesburg. This entire trip was nothing short of amazing. The Crew made plans to go to dinner at a restaurant called Trumps Grill House- Butchery- Wine Cellar. It was established in 1994 and is located in the Nelson Mandela Square. In the center of the square is a huge statue of Nelson Mandela.
Trumps Grill is a nice restaurant, the food is delicious and they have reasonable prices. Whether you drink wine or not, big bottles of Pinotage is placed on your table alongside sparkling water. I guess they figure you want wine with your dinner. Pinotage is a red wine with a black fruit flavor that is brewed in South Africa. No one had a problem consuming it or at least trying it because it was presented as a good tasting wine and it is.
For starters, the hostesses bring out a basket of freshly made beef jerky and bread. I don’t eat beef but it looked mighty tasty to me.
All of the entrees looked delicious and from what I was told they were. Our group's entrees included: Lamb, Ox Trails, Salmon, White Fish, Prawns and Prime Ribs. They called their fish dinners Signature Seafood and I saw why. It basically melts in your mouth and the flavors was like no other. A co-worker said the gravy alone on the Ox Tail was good enough for her.
Our plans the following day were to go to the Safari, interact and walk with the elephants and later go to Pilanesberg National Park where we will get into an open vehicle and enjoy the four to five hour safari through Pilanesburg . We were told the best game viewing is either at daybreak or in the evening closer to sunset as that is when the animals are more active and there’s a chance to see more of them.
Our tour guide was Eben Combrinck, a brilliant young man. He had a memory like an elephant. He is well versed in a lot of stuff. He is worldly in terms of travel. He has traveled to six continents and lived in several countries. He served in the military, was a surfer, skateboarder and now a knowledgeable tour guide that has taken him around the world and back to his hometown of Johannesburg, Africa.
Eben gave us a history briefing on South Africa as well as other places he had lived and traveled as we went to our safari destination. I will say this and move on. I noticed that most of the places we had gone since being in Johannesburg, a majority if not all of the workers are black. I asked, why was this the case when I saw quite a few whites in passing, at restaurants, at the bakery and in traffic. I was informed that it is true that most of the jobs in South Africa are filled with Blacks. Eben said, “in order to get government assistance to do business you have to be Black.” I asked what percentage. He said 100%.
Another interesting tidbit I learned from Eben. He said, “Colors could not get government assistance”. I asked what did he mean about Colors! He said, “Colors are mixed people”. Example: Chinese mixed with White or anything that is mixed together. Wow!
Not in the USA. They call black people Colored.
I held this topic for a later time because I knew once I got to the airport to travel to Cape Town and back to USA I would have a bunch of questions for my African brothers and sisters that work at the airport and the ones traveling to the US. (They did explained pretty much all of it but it wasn’t enough time so I will get more information when I return to South Africa as well as do my own research).
Moving on to our itinerary while in Johannesburg. Our first stop was the bakery as requested. As you will see from the posted photos these people can bake and they bake some of everything! I brought back a fruit cake to eat with my Thanksgiving dinner my son Ronald prepared at home. He did a wonderful job preparing Thanksgiving dinner and it was delicious.
Our next stop was to meet the 3 beautiful, friendly, human tolerant elephants at Glen Afric Country Lodge. Before entering Glen Afric there is a sign at the gate that read: “ALL ANIMALS AT GLEN AFRIC SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS WILD WITH THE POTENTIALS TO HARM”. So with that being said, its best to be on your p's and q's.
Before approaching the elephants we saw a Kudu, which is a large antelope and an Oh. The Ostrich was female. She was looking after her eggs. The way they operate is the female watch over the eggs in the daylight and the male takes over at night until the eggs hatch. So basically it is the same with animals and humans; teamwork makes the dream work!
Inside the Lodge we were introduced to Nadia, the head ranger, Nada gave us a briefing before taking us out to see the elephants. Included in her briefing are the do’s and don’ts when dealing with the elephants. It was eleven of us including Eben and Nadia. There were six Flight Attendants and a family of three from Iran. Nadia drove us to the elephants and introduced us to MacDonald and Sileni. They are the trainers/ elephant handlers and has been working with the elephants for a number of years. MacDonald has been working with elephants for over 40 years and Sileni started working with these elephants at age two. He looked to be in his early thirties now.
The Elephants are well trained. Nadia said at twelve noon the elephants know it is time for them to go home and if MacDonald and Sileni are not there to take them home they will go half way and wait on the guys to come to take them home. They can sense the time of day, body movement and higher voices. They know when Sileni and MacDonald are serious.
The elephant’s names are Three, Hanna and Matts. Three is the mother to Hanna who was born at Glen Afric and Matts was adopted at three weeks old and brought to Glen Afric.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet MacDonald and Sieni and they seemed to be happy to meet me. Immediately they took me to the elephant and said, no need to be afraid and to follow them. They had me walking around like I had been working with elephants. This made me feel relaxed and I immediately got close to the the elephants without the fear of them hurting me. They told me to move with the elephants and stay close to the elephants. I sensed they didn’t fear for my safety. They had me touching the elephant ears, the tusks, their bodies, and feeding them grass. They stood away from the elephants and took pictures of me with Three, Hanna and Matts. They said, they like you and do not be afraid. At this point I felt comfortable. It was obvious these elephants looked up to them. Nadia told her coworkers inside Glen Afric that I am the new elephant handler. lol
After visiting with the elephants we drove for an hour and thirty minutes and had lunch at a restaurant called Bakubung Lodge in Pilanesberg. The food was buffet style and it was delicious. The servers were strong African men and the waiters were beautiful and friendly African ladies.
After lunch we met up with an enthusiastic guide name Petrus Mosehla . Petrus worked for Sundown Safari and was well versed in animal history. He knew everything about the different types of animals. He gave us a briefing and we then enjoyed a 4 hour and 30 minute Safari Tour in Pilanesberg National Park trying to spot as many of the different species of animals as Mother Nature allowed us to see. You will see from the photos we spotted quite a few. Petrus said there are days the animals do not come out and we are really lucky. We said we were blessed!
Not only did we see a lot of the species of animals up close, we watched as they crossed the street. From A to Z, the Antelope to the Zebras, they were out there.
There were many of each species of animals walking around in a pack. This is how they travel. They protect one another. Different animals protect not only their own but others species as well. You already know the lions are the ones who sneak up on the other animals to attack for food. They are the king of the jungle.
I was told the HIPPO kills more animals than any other species and I read they kill more African people than any other animal. We found two of them out of the water but when we parked and started taking pictures of them they ran back to the water. They are very fast to be so big and too big to be running away from us.
We watched for quite some time as one of the male lion follow up behind a female lion. She was in heat according to Petrus but she showed him it was too hot to be bothered. Petrus said, you see how he is saying Hello and she is saying No. She got up and walked off but he was right behind her. Not too far away was another lion behind a bush eating something with long legs Petrus said it was more than likely a baby Zebra. Sure hate that because the Zebra is my favorite animal but apparently his favorite snack. See the attached photos of the lion walking with the leg.
Petrus took us for a bathroom and a mini break. He set up snacks and beverages for us. We had chips, nuts and two types of homemade beef jerky. We had several flavors of drinks, beers and spirits. In this spot, we got an up close view of more elephants ranging in different sizes. The baby elephants are too cute.
After the break we resumed our adventure. As we continued to look for more animals, we saw others on the trail looking for animals as well. We shared our spotting as we approached each other. We never knew what we would see next but we were hopeful. We were hoping to see the famous Big FIVE, referring to five of Africa’s greatest wild animals, but we were happy with what we had already spotted of the different species of animals we saw. We spotted Alligators, Hippopotamus (river horse), Lions, Warthogs, Secretary birds, Zebras, Rhinoceros, Monkeys, Giraffes, Crocodile, Impala, Wolf and more. The two Big Five we didn’t see are the Buffalo and the Leopard.
We spotted monkeys sitting peacefully on limbs and some crossing the street. We saw giraffes eating leaves and when two of them spotted us they hid behind the brushes. Imagine that! Later the giraffes slowly crossed the street just like the elephants, monkeys, and lions. The zebras didn’t come up too close. We spotted them from afar by using camera lens to capture a clear image and to bring them closer. There were many animals spotted up close.
Before dawn we made our way back to our tour guide Eben so he could take us back to our hotel. I’ve learned so much about South Africa's Safari Animals from our Tour Guides. The entire trip was priceless and unforgettable.
If you are interested in this African Safari tour and other tours, please click on the link below. I highly recommend http://hikingafricatours.co.za
The adventure was electrifying.
Our next adventure was in Cape Town Africa and it was packed with excitement as well. We went on a boat ride in the South Atlantic Ocean to spot dolphins, sharks, whales, pigeon, and etc.
To read more about this adventure and others please follow http://marycall.com blog!
Thanks for reading!
Mary R Armstrong
MaryCall & The New Elephant Handler
November 23, 2023