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South African Safari

Sub-Saharan Africa!   

Michael and I were on our way, and just the name filled our imaginations with images of . . . steamy jungles teeming with hooting monkeys?  Vast deserts with shimmering mirages always just out of reach?  Muddy water holes surrounded by scattered remains of . . . jungle quicksand?  Tarzan and the apes?

Obviously, we had seen movies, but we didn’t really know what South Africa was all about.  Since Michael was on a business trip to “golden” Johannesburg, we expected the sleek office buildings and luxury hotels, which we saw in the leafy northern suburbs.   What we didn’t expect was that virtually ALL homes in both Johannesburg and nearby Pretoria would be surrounded by solid six-foot walls topped with barbs and electrified fences.  When we visited Soweto (part of “greater Jo’burg” and only safe to visit on a guided tour) and witnessed the flood of migration and unemployment and abject poverty that continues to weight down the people, the country . . . the continent, it all became clear.  Saying that this is still a place of socio-economic extremes is an understatement.

Despite these factors, once outside metro Jo’burg, we discovered that South Africa looks a lot like . . . well, California!  It has similar terrain, vegetation, and weather, rich with mineral deposits, wide open spaces, orchards and livestock, rolling hills and rocky mountainsides, water reservoirs surrounded by new red tile-roofed stucco homes . . .

But it also has bush country with game reserves and safaris!  Michael and I traveled into bush country on a “Walk with the Lions.” Then while he worked during the week (one works, one plays – an equitable arrangement), I also “Walked with Elephants.”  These were both at private game reserves several hours outside the city and dedicated to the conservation of lions and other exotic species, as well as protection from poachers.

We invite you to safari through our eyes!

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