Well the day has come and it’s off to South Africa on our grand tour. Our flight went like clockwork, well I suppose it should really as we flew with Swiss Air via Zurich, flight timing was spot on. Onboard everything was spot on, meals, leg room etc. Our flight landed at Johannesburg around 10:30 am. Passport control was a breeze for a change. So with baggage picked up it was off to pick up the rental car, and we were off on our four and a half hour journey to our first stop on the trip, Hamilton Park Lodge. The lodge is situated about 12km from Hazyview. Hazyview is located very near to the Krugar National Park so it is a great location. We arrived around 6:30pm pretty exhausted after the long flight and drive we settled down to a few cold beers. Now, Billy who I will call the barman, (but he does a lot more besides) is a very informative chap indeed. He was born and raised in the Krugar and before he started working at Hamilton Lodge he was a game park tracker and guide so we learned an awful lot about the wildlife in South Africa.
Firstly, using an English mobile in South Africa is extremely expensive, for example my network n the UK charges £4.oo per minute to make a call and £5.00 per mb for data so my advice is to get a SIM card at the airport. After doing some reasearch online Vodacom seems to be the most popular choice. My sim with 25 mins of calls and 1gb of data lasts for a month and costs around £13.
Secondly, Driving. Now it appears that an awful lot of the police in South Africa are very corrupt and will pull over tourists quite frequently (as they seem to know hire cars from the new style number plates and the fact that the vehicles are mainly brand new). They will say that you were speeding, or for not stopping at a four way juction, in which you may have or have not been guilty of. They will state that you will have to pay an on the spot fine which there is no such thing. They will ask for perhaps 100 to 500 rand between £5 and £25. but don’t pay, say you want a ticket and you will pay it at the local police station. They will then state that if they write you a ticket it will cost you around one thousand rand, which of course it will not. They will also tell you that the nearest police station is around 20km away but tell them ok you have the time so take me there. They will get fed up with this and invariably let you go. But if they are persistent and want to write you a ticket, just tell them to write there name on the ticket as you need to show your rental company and embassy. This will certainly see them off, but if you are guilty just accept the ticket and pay the fine at a local police station. It might seem like a lot of bother just to save a small amount of money but police corruption is a big problem in South Africa so as a tourist you can help stamp it out.
More tomorrow. So stay safe and keep following.