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THE WILDEBEEST AND COXALL MIGRATION

 

Marion CoxallTold by my good friend, Marion Coxall, who, although she will deny it,  I think is actually  a closet camper…..  :)

 

When Marion initially sent me her 11 page story, I thought it was really too long, even for a series but, after reading it and then reading it again, I decided that there were just too many people who have always dreamed of doing this very trip, they want to hear all the details and most importantly, where they stayed, what the circumstances were like and who could help them to fulfil their dream.  

 

I have therefore broken the story down into 12 posts and will send out a new post every other day.  I hope that soon, you will be looking forward to the next episode with eager anticipation.  ENJOY! :)

 

bucket listFor the last 25 years my husband, John has been talking about his “bucket list”.  This, of course, can only be attempted on a grand scale once you have shed the shackles of business responsibilities and hopefully made enough wise financial decisions to keep you in the retirement luxury you have always dreamed about!

 

Right at the top of his list (and about 249th on mine) was a trip to see the famous wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.   He had been threatening to drive from Cape to Cairo for a long time, incorporating the Migration on the way.   Once this became a distinct possibility on his retirement I immediately put my foot down and told him that I would only go on an organised tour and only as far as the Serengeti – I felt, to go any further, would be too dangerous.

 

It was just over a year ago when, visiting the local Getaway Show in Somerset West, we happened upon the stand of a company who organised just such a tour – Eco 4×4 Africa Tours, based in Pretoria – and, having established the cost, sat down to do the sums.  

 

Eco Africa 4 x 4 Tours

 

We had to provide our own equipment – yes I’m afraid it was camping all the way – but the up side was that Alex Smit, the tour leader, would provide and cook all the meals.  It was perhaps the only way I was going to agree to partake in this “adventure”.   

 

Once we confirmed our interest in the tour, Alex came down from Pretoria and gave us a full overview in our home for three hours on all aspects of the trip – it was mind boggling.  Not only did we have to have passports for each country but so did our car – it was called a carnet.  We needed special stickers for the vehicle, special insurance both for our car and ourselves, special equipment as there would rarely be electricity, and a multitude of other stuff too numerous to bore you with.  Suffice to say, it was obvious we couldn’t have done it without him.

 

Serengeti

 

And so it was, nearly a year later, at 6am on Thursday 25 April 2013 that I found myself sitting, or should I say squashed, into the passenger seat of our Toyota Fortuna, leaving the comfort of our little home in Cape Town, for I knew not what lay ahead.  There was so much equipment stashed in the back that my seat was almost bolt upright and my leg room was almost non-existent!  However, like a dutiful wife, I decided to grin and bear it as my husband’s excitement was electric (I’m afraid mine was still waiting for a kick-start!)  

Our first night was spent in Springfontein in an absolutely delightful B & B called Prior Grange, a merino sheep farm situated 870km from Cape Town.  We were shown to Willow Cottage by the owner, Blackie de Swardt, who left us with the invitation to join him and the other guests in his pub that evening.  What an experience.

 

 

Prior Grange - Springfontein

 

We got to meet all the other guests for a delightful pre-dinner drink and it was interesting to swap stories about where we were all off to and what we were doing.  Needless to say they were all very impressed when they heard about the Groot Trek. 

 

At 7.30pm we all returned to our cottages and the most delightful Karoo meal of lamb pie and vegies followed by apple pie and cream was delivered to our door. 

 

 

Dinner at Prior Grange

The cottage, which consisted of 2 bedrooms and a large lounge/dining room/kitchen, also doubled up as the local cricket pavilion as Blackie was also in charge of the Springfontein Cricket Club and the “oval” was situated just outside the front door.

 

The Cricket Oval Prior Grange

 

Friday 26 April – After a wonderfully hearty breakfast which was also delivered to our cottage by Blackie, we left the next day on the last leg of our trip to Pretoria. 

 

Fortunately we had a Garmin with us (nicknamed Gerty) who managed to get us through the many horrifying motorway junctions in and around Johannesburg although I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had given up the ghost as John spent most of his time yelling at her when he thought she was taking us the wrong way.  It almost felt as if there were “3 people in our marriage” at one point!  We spent a very delightful night at Bosau Guest House in Pretoria.

 

 

Bosau Guest House - Pretoria

 

Next up – Leaving civilisation as we know it!

About Cynthia

I am a fun loving woman who loves to explore new destinations and experiences. My philosophy in life is “Have suitcase, will travel” and I like to drag my family and friends along with me to share in the joy. Naturally, along the journey of “life” I like to indulge in long, lazy lunches, delicious champagne, creamy chocolate and most important, lots of laughter……Having being in travel for many years, I write about my personal experiences, mostly about Southern Africa but I do also get to travel internationally so will pop in some stories about my travels abroad. As food and wine are an integral part of my travel experience I also explore both those topics as well.

10 Responses to THE WILDEBEEST AND COXALL MIGRATION

  1. Kathy says:

    Waiting in anticipation…

  2. Pamela Quinn says:

    Looking forward to reading the next part of the trip. Brings back memories. My old company used to run the “Cape to Cairo” safaris in the 60′s and 70′s. Can you believe that these safaris were operated in luxury American vehicles with private courier/tour guide and, of course, the ultimate in luxury hotels. Very much the “Out of Africa” and colonial lifestyle. In those days, all the roads were good and passport control very lenient especially since most of the tourist held British Passports. We were, however, still faced with many challenges along the way.

    Some very funny but good stories emanated from these safaris! One of which was of an old British tourist who supposedly fell asleep in the car, only for the guide to discover hours later that he was actually dead! The other tourists in the car took his death as a matter of course and, after dropping the body off at the local coroners office, they continued with the trip! Can you imagine trying to get away with this now?

    Thanks for including “The Wildebeest and Coxall Migration” in your blog Cynthia. Very interesting.

  3. Gloria says:

    I so enjoyed reading the first instalment of the “Wildebeest and Coxall Migration”.
    Looking forward to reading the next instalment!

    • Cynthia says:

      Great Gloria, please feel free to forward onto any of your friends who may be thinking of doing just such a trip. I have had quite a few emails from people saying that this is just what they have been wanting to do but did not know where to start or who to contact.

  4. I have things on an informal bucket list in my head. but I think I need to put it on paper. Then its more likely to come true. One with very reachable goals and one with way out ones. This would be one of those I would love to do.

    The Karoo and Free State has some awesome country guesthouses like this one.

  5. Gerard & Adele Tilema says:

    We survived part one. Now for the next challenge!

  6. Lynnette Godfrey says:

    Yay have managed to read Part 1 in peace – moving on to Part 2 now – addictive can’t wait. Thanks Cynthia

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