Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Close encounters of the very best kind

A world away from Australia and already we are light years away from our first night in South Africa, spent with wealthy white friends in Johannesburg just a few hundred metres from thousands of desperately poor blacks living in the squalor of the squatter camps. More than a decade after the end of apartheid, there is still clearly such disparity between have and have-not, between white and black, that it’s simply too much to take in straight away. We've escaped to the country; the cities can wait.

Out here in the magnificent Kruger National Park – a game reserve roughly the size and shape of Israel - there is room to breathe and I’m grateful to at last be in the Africa of my dreams. (The first film I ever saw at the cinema was Born Free - hence, I suppose, the wanderlust I’ve nursed for decades.)

It is our first day in Kruger and already we have seen everything we could possibly want and then some: a spectacular leopard looking for a snack, skittish zebras drinking from a waterhole, Nile crocodiles sunning themselves, white rhinos that leave piles of poop the size of small cars, hippos lollygagging in the mud, giraffes loping majestically across wide brown savanna.

I think we’ll have to stay forever.

No comments: