20.10.2009 - 21.10.2009 28 °C
Set off from Waterval Boven, where we'd stayed the previous night, for our last couple of days in South Africa. Headed to an area called the Cradle of Humankind - a world heritage site famous for its archeological finds, cave systems and several nature reserves. We stopped in Pretoria on the way for local maps and took some phots of their gorgeous avenues of jacoranda trees which line the streets. These trees are a beautiful bright purple, which is actually the flowers - the green leaves only appear afer the flowers have dropped. We then went on to Maropeng for the afternoon, where we went round a great natural history exhibition, starting with a boat ride through the ice ages and looking at how the earth has developed, animals have evolved and where humans originated. There was some emphasis on the humanoid fossils as some of the earliest examples have been found in this area of Africa.
Our next stop was to find a bed for the night. We went on a hunt to find a place that looked good in the Lonely Planet Guide - thatched huts in a nature reserve. Wow, was definately worth the hunt! Wasn't the easiest place to find, but well worth it when we got there. Really cute little thatched houses, raised on stilts in the trees, all connected by raised wooden walkways and thatch covered seating areas outside. It was like something out of a fairy tale, or the Ewok village from Star Wars. Beautiful. Really nicely decorated inside too with comfy wooded beds and bright cushions etc.
Our last day in Africa. After sorting out all our stuff ready for our 6.10pm flight, we went for a short walk in the naure reserve before leaving. After seeing a few animals we headed out to our last activity - the Rhino and Lion Park. Managed to get some great photos of the lions, cheetahs and wild dogs at feeding time, but didn't have quite the same satisfaction level as seeing the animals at Kruger. We also went down the Wonder Cave where we saw some impressive rock formations. Our last stop was a visit to the animal creche where any cubs that have been orphaned or rejected are hand reared. We actually got to go in and play with the lion cubs and white tiger cubs for a few minutes! The lion cubs were very cute, just a couple of months old. They enjoyed being stroked and nibbling on our fingers. The white tigers were a bit older and much more boisterous! They were very cute and playful, but you had to be much more careful of their teeth and claws. Was an amazing experience.
A mad dash to the airport followed, through heavy traffic, a very loud thunder storm, some crazy South African driving and a very sparse amount of useful roadsigns. We said goodbye to our rental car at the airport, which was a lot less white and had over 2000km more on the clock than when we'd picked it up a week ago! Just time for a little bit of souvenier shopping and it was time to board the plane for the next leg of my adventure.