All good things must come to an end but we had a fantastic trip and a big thank you to Mrs M for all the hard work in organising everything!
Our final, and extra special visit of our South Africa tour, was to Mbuyisa Makhubu Primary School in the heart of Soweto. Situated next to the Hector Pieterson memorial, the school is named after Mbuyisa Makhubu, the 18 year old schoolboy seen carrying a dying Hector Pieterson in the iconic photograph of the 1976 Soweto uprising (Hector Pieterson was a 13 year old boy who was one of the first to be shot in uprising). The school has 428 learners including many vulnerable and orphaned students, for whom a feeding scheme is in place.
This is the third time that St Ivo have visited the school and we were given yet another spectacular welcome. Mrs Sambo (the school principal), came to welcome us at the school gates and as our students gathered here, a number of students dressed in a variety of traditional costumes (dependent on their background) came to great us with traditional dancing.
We were then taken up to the main courtyard of the school where the whole school had gathered. Once seated we were welcomed by the students and Mrs Sambo introduced students and staff to us before Mrs Mottram also did an introduction on our behalf.
Following a spectacular display of dancing from 3 sets of students from throughout the age ranges at the school, our students were able to present to the school and primary students the gifts we had been able to purchase through the fund raising that they had worked hard on in the weeks prior to our visit.
We presented 4 large bags of sports equipment, including amongst other things footballs, rugby balls, netballs, cricket equipment, football and netball strips and skipping ropes, and a bag full of stationary donated by our students. From our fund raising activities we also presented a cheque for 10,000 rand (£500) to the school which Mrs Sambo explained would be put towards setting up a fund for enabling the most vulnerable and poorest students to participate in school excursions and trips which otherwise they would not have been able to do
Finally, the bit everyone had been waiting for, our students spent an emotional and rewarding half an hour meeting all the primary school students. Hugs, high fives, piggy backs galore! What a way to end our tour. A very special experience for all involved.
So the time came for our final day 😦
Waking up in Johannesburg we were greeted by a buffet breakfast so fill us up for our long journey back home.
Our day started with a journey down Africa’s busiest motorway towards Africa’s biggest sports stadium; Johannesburg’s Soccer City. Here we stopped for a few photos at the site of the 2010 World Cup Final, before heading towards the township of Soweto.
Soweto proved to be a real change, and an eye opener to the ‘other’ side of South Africa. Here we saw many shanty dwellings of homemade huts, with rubbish strewn all around, animals running freely and people working on homemade stalls. This really did show to all of us the lifestyle differences across just one city in South Africa.
Once in Soweto we drove towards the only street in the world with the home of two Nobel Peace Prize winners on it – Vilakazi Street. Here we had a tour around Nelson Mandela’s house, which has been preserved and has now become a memorial to the former president of South Africa. This provided a real insight into the struggles South Africa faced in the 20th with Apartheid.
The hard hitting emotions of this struggle were really brought to the fore at our next stop in Soweto; the Hector Pieterson Memorial.
Hector Pieterson was photographed in 1976 being carried by another student while his sister ran next to them. He was killed at the age of 13 when the police opened fire on students protesting against South Africa’s apartheid regime. This hard hitting image stands alongside a fountain and a museum here in the heart of Soweto as an emotive reminder of this struggle.
Leaving the Kruger full of breakfast this morning, we managed to spot one last pride of lions alongside several zebra, giraffe, baboons and wildebeest. What a way to finish! This set us up fantastically for the long drive back to Johannesburg!
Breaking up this mammoth 600km journey was a brief stop at a service station with ice creams in the sunshine. This was followed by a buffet lunch, with also sorts of delicious food!
Next stop : Ann van Dyk Cheetah Sanctuary – De Wildt. Here we stopped for a couple of hours admiring from afar the cheetahs being fed, vultures basking in the sunshine and wild dogs ravaging over several kilos of food in lightning speed. The true highlight for all was heading inside the sanctuary and able to come up close with a cheetah. As the cheetah laid there we all moved around taking our turn to spend some time with him, taking photos and even stroking him!
We finished off our journey into Johannesburg, and tucked into out second buffet of the day. We’ll all sleep well tonight!
From the Shangana village we then drive back through Hazyview and onto Kruger National Park for our safari experience. At the park gate we were met by our guides and safari vehicles and immediately went out on a two and a half drive. What an introduction to the park! Within our first two and half hours in the park, as well as a multitude or other animals, including amongst others giraffe, zebra, impala and hyena we also saw four of the big five, including Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Elephant! What a way to start! Buzzing with excitement we finished our safari at Sukuza rest camp which was to be our accommodation, small bungalows built in the form of traditional huts with straw roofs, ensure and each with an outside seating area. Next morning with alarms set for 5am we met at 5.30 for our morning safari, seeing the sunrise and being treated once again to the Kruger’s incredible bird and animal life before returning for a well earned cooked breakfast back at camp. We then spent a few hours exploring the camp itself, spotting the monkeys and warthog living in the camp and trying to identify as many different species of birds as possible! Some of us went on a nature spot around the camp, seeing mongoose, snakes, skinks, millipedes, countless birds, monkeys and scanning the Sabie River looking for crocodile and hippo. A well deserved afternoon rest followed with the majority us spending a little time in the pool! Then off we went again for a spectacular three hour evening safari, treated to the sunset over the Sabie with the sightings of hippo, lion, giraffe, zebra, elephant, hyena etc. Sadly this morning we had to leave the Kruger – onwards to our adventure in Johannesburg and no more checking shoes for scorpions in the morning!
Having left Jock Sabie lodge on Sunday morning we took a drive through to Hazyview for a quick souvenir stop and also chance for some of those who wanted to visit the reptile park. A short 15 minute drive then took us to Shangana cultural village, home of the Shangana people. We were welcomed to the village with the blowing of the Kudo horn and some students were also able to have a go at this. We met our guide and then took a short walk through to the village itself where we met the Chief and were given a talk on the lifestyle and nature of the Shangana people. The village itself consisted of a number of huts, one for the Chief, one each for his three wives as well as huts for cooking, a small village garden, including banana trees and chickens and goats. Having had chance to ask questions and have our photographs taken with the Chief we then went on to meet the medicine doctor (witch doctor) who taught us many natural medicines from the bush used for curing a range of ailments. Following our visit to the village we were treated to a lunch prepared by the Shangana tribe. Chicken and potatoes, vegetables, green salad, milipap and homemade corn bread followed by fruit. Finally we were treated to a spectacular performance of traditional dancing before leaving for the Kruger National Park!
Early morning at Jock Sabie Lodge – overcast with a little rain which will hopefully clear. Packing up for our visit to Shangana Village and then we are off to the Kruger National Park for our first safari this afternoon! All eyes peeled to try and spot the ‘Big 5’. Timing of our next posts will depend on we next get online access!
Our final stop of the day was the end of the panoramic route in Mpumalanga with amazing views through the Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels. More details can be found here.
Onwards this afternoon on to the Panoramic Route and our first stop the stunning Bourke’s Luck Potholes. These are found at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde Rivers. These spectacular cylindrical potholes were formed by the power of the water in the river and abrasion my material carried within it, ‘drilling’ into the bed.
After Mac Mac falls we took a short drive to Pilgrims Rest, found out about its history and association with gold mining. We then had a gold panning competition! Gold nuggets and certificates in hands we left for our lunch destination – Harries Pancakes
In Graskop. More information about Pilgrims Rest and its history can be found here.