18 – 19th July: The Long Journey to Johannesburg
It is finally the much awaited day – we fly from Helsinki with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and then onwards to Johannesburg overnight. The connections as well as the prices are very convenient but I think that I enjoy flying with SAA a bit more.
As soon as we arrive in Johannesburg at around 9am we find an enormous queue for immigration which takes about an hour to clear. Immigration is usually quite stressful for me as almost nobody ever knows about Malta, my country of origin, and I get all kind of hassles – but this time all goes smoothly, guess there is too much queue to harass the person from the weird country today. We pick up our luggage, always a relief to see it, and we exit into the arrivals lounge to find a Bushlore representative there to greet us and drive us to their new depot in Midrand, about half an hour away. The size of Johannesburg always stuns me and also the fact that it is always abuzz with construction work.
The Bushlore depot is nice and well organized and imagine my surprise when I walk into one of the offices and see the picture I took in September 2012 of a lion in front of our Bushlore Hilux hanging on the wall! Soon all the formalities with the car are done, and our bank balances are significantly poorer. We set off towards our accommodation for the night, Rockridge Manor in Fairland to deposit our luggage before setting off to do all the required shopping for 2 weeks in the bush. We had stayed in Rockridge Manor in 2008 and liked it so much that we just had to return. Our hosts there are just the greatest, and their guesthouse is gorgeous.
After a long drive to Fairland there is a moment of dreadful realisation – we forgot our car papers at the Bushlore office! The sleepless night on the flight turned us into two complete dimwits, and here we are preparing to spend 2 weeks in the African bush. Thankfully our hosts at Rockridge Manor pick up the papers for us from Midrand – truly the definition of above and beyond and we are so grateful. I am pretty sure they must be worried about us being there in the bush relying solely on our wits since the fatigue seems to have turned us into headless chickens.
And the bigger stress is still on its way – shopping for 2 weeks in the bush for a couple with a ravenous appetite. We go to Cresta Shopping Center. Before the shopping we need to get some Rands. Nothing fills me with dread more than having to use an ATM in Africa – it just never works for us for some reason. This time was no different. We run around in Cresta and try a few ATMs before we found one that doesn’t spit out our card with some weird message. But it would only give out 2000 rands at a time. We are on a tight schedule, and it takes us about 1 hour to get money, brilliant start. It is starting to look highly unlikely we will drive back to Rockridge Manor in the light ….
We do out shopping at Checkers and thankfully they have all that we need but it still takes a while to find everything, and we end up with 2 bulging trolleys. We looked like we are preparing for an expedition – oh wait, we sort of are!
We cram in all the bags and water in the car and set off to drive in Johannesburg in the dark – the thing we really didn’t want to do. We arrive back at Rockridge Manor without incident and set about the daunting task of organizing all the stuff in the car. We are too hungry to finish the task and our hosts kindly drives us to a nice bistro nearby for dinner – The Legends Grill. I indulge in some Chicken Shnitzel with peri peri sauce and the mister has some juicy beef. As usual we are amazed at the prices of meat abroad – something similar in Finland would have cost about 5 times more. Our hosts pick us up and we head back for some well deserved sleep.