Today morning, we woke up early and had a light breakfast before we went on the safari. It was a cold and cloudy day. It seemed like it was going to rain. Maybe because of the weather, we couldn’t see various animals compared to yesterday. But we got to see zebras, deers, wilder beasts, giraffes and an elephant. Lots of zebras and deers were grouped together and stayed between trees. The tour guide told us that they often do that especially in cold days to make themselves feel safe. We also saw a huge group of giraffes, the tour guide told us how to distinguish the gender of giraffes. Also, 2 of baby giraffes were necking, he said it might become quite physical when they grow a little bit more. Later, it started to rain with huge wind. The tour guide provided us ponchos so we could avoid rain. But the strong winds blew many of our caps several times. We headed back to the hotel, had a big breakfast and had free time until 4 o’clock. We couldn’t hangout in the swimming pool or tan our skins due to the weather. So my roommate and I had a long naps instead. We went back on to safari at 4, even though it was still cold, the guide prepared blankets for us to keep us warm. We got to see monkeys, elephant, giraffes, white rhinos and bunnies. We were so pleased to see white rhinos because there was a baby rhino jumping around and we thought it was so adorable. The clouds were cleared out and the sun came out. Luckily we got to see beautiful sunset again, we had a little snack time near a beautiful lake. The reflection of the lake on the surface was very pretty. We came back to the hotel after the sunset. We had last great night at Bayala hotel.
We all woke up at the crack of dawn, ready to see the wild life of South Africa. We had a light breakfast before we took off in open top safari Land Rover. We went out into the reserve of 4,000 hectares of land for the animals to roam free. We started off with looking at zebras and blue wilder beasts, two animals we saw regularly. We went on a hunt for the “big five”, the “big five” consisted of lions, buffalos, giraffes, leopards, and black rhinos. We were in for a treat as we saw a black rhino which was a rare sighting, there are only 5,000 wild black rhinos wild in the world. We saw many animals and it was amazing that we could get to see them up close. Before the safari ride ended we had seen 3 out of the 5 “big five” animals, and many others along the road. The early morning safari only lasted for three hours, when it ended we head back to the game lodge for a big breakfast. We had 7 hours of free time until the afternoon safari, so most of us laid by the pool to soak up some sun. At four, we set out once again to watch the sunset and look for more animals. Right when we started we saw a cheetah, which was rare and Dave our guide told us the sad story of the young cheetah’s life. This cheetah had her mom killed by lions when she was 8 months old and had her sister be killed off by lions as well. Afterwards we went into the reserve to find more animals. Shortly we had found a lion and his family. A family of a mother and father and four little cubs. It was so sweet to see a family together, and they were feasting off a wilder beast. After a while we went to a dam and saw many elephants playing together in the water. It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life. As the elephants were walking out of the dam, they walked right behind our Land Rover and the tour guide was in shock and told us to sit still as the elephant walked past us. The tour guide said it was very rare to be so up close to a wild elephant. After watching the elephants for a while everyone gathered around an empty space and had some snacks while watching the sunset. Today was incredible and all the sights I have seen were mesmerizing, it is truly something I will never forget.
We have left Johannesburg after an extraordinary three days and have landed safely in Richards Bay for a two day safari and hippopotamus & crocodile tour.
Today, in the morning, we traveled to Soweto to visit the FNB Stadium, formerly Soccer City, that is known for the rebuild for the World Cup 2010. The stadium’s capacity is 94,000 people. The first game played in this stadium was played between South Africa and Mexico. Also the last game from the World Cup 2010 was in the Spanish against Netherlands. But the stadium not only have good stories like this. We learned today that 32 people since today died because they wanted to see a match. They crushed the fences down and came so in the stadium. During this many people got killed because they were stampeded. The stadium is owned today by the “FNB” and is used by the local team called the Kaizer Chiefs. The city of Soweto is only getting money for their city from the soccer stadiums.
In the afternoon, we took a 5-mile bike ride through the town of Soweto, the home of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. The June 16, 1976 uprising when approximately 10,000 students marched peacefully for equal education took place in Soweto. Two students were killed and hundreds were injured and the anti-apartheid movement grew stronger. We visited the museum, Nelson Mandela’s home, and Bishop Tutu’s home too. Afterwards, we all ate food prepared by the locals.
After a relaxing breakfast, we were off to seeing some famous graffiti art in Johannesburg. Jo, the graffiti art tour guide joined us to give us some explanations about how graffiti art came to be so well known to the people in South Africa and its significant roles. Unlike other places, Johannesburg legalized graffiti art due to the degeneration of the city. Degeneration in the city center was due to the social issue called ‘The Group Areas Act’. The law was implemented to make sure different races did not reside together. It officially ended in 1994 and gentrification began. Since this town was built to carry only whites, or 9% of the people, after the law was removed, the community overflew with the influx of black people. The powerful white people who were already dwelling in the town kicked black people out and caused many problems. These problems led people to use graffiti art to express their feelings and bring out freedom. Nowadays, artists who want to leave any marks on the wall have to get permissions from the government. All the works that we saw today were permission based art. Most of the artists left their names on the wall: Mars, Taps, Decor one, Demolition Squad.
In the afternoon we traveled to the Apartheid Museum that chronicles the struggle for equality in Souty Africa. There is a special wing devoted to Nelson Mandela.
Stay tuned. Lunch in Johannesburg before we start our day. We arrived at the airport at 8 am. Then, we went our hotel called the Curiocity. We had lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we went to the Constitutional Hill, the highest court and a former prison. The tour guide taught us about how prisoners lived and mistreated. Prisoners had differences in living condition depended on their races. Gangsters were one of the major part of prisoners, which had privileges like more living space and food. Then, we went to the highest court; we had a view on the process of judgement and the setting of the court. Lastly, we went back to the hotel and had dinner.
We’re off to Johannesburg! All students arrived at Ross by 5:00 am and arrived at the airport in plenty of time for the plane to Johannesburg. No problems with passports and visas as everyone gets ready for the 14 hour flight. We arrived in Johannesburg at 8:30 am and ready for day two.
This is the official blog for 2018 South Africa Field Academy! Please check daily for our exciting adventures.