You'd think a twenty seven-hour flight, with a layover in Abu Dhabi, would suck me dry of excitement, but no. Falling asleep in Abu Dhabi was made extremely difficult by a magnificent array of saris of every imaginable color flashing before my eyes. Though half way in dreamland, I was still pumped up. Arriving in South Africa's Johannesburg airport at nine in the evening didn't strike my travel mates as an important enough reason to stop and sleep, so we drove. All through the night. All the way to Karoo National Park.
“Monkeys!” I must have dozed off in the car. Bright light pierced my eyes, but the call made me want to fight through the pain. Something didn't make sense. What monkeys? It's freezing cold… “Stasya, monkeys!” I tore open my watering eyes and there they were – flashing us their red behinds, vervet monkeys climbing roadside trees and bushes. I dared not fall asleep until we reached the park gates.
“Shall we?” Shurik and Vova looked to me for our next step. I swallowed hard and stepped out of the car clutching my brand-new journalist card. The guard at the gate looked it over, gave me a slip reading “Staff Visit”, and let us through.
We came unannounced, but in no time we were sitting with Mzwandile Mjadu, the very welcoming manager of the park, and drinking tea with milk, discussing our further plans in Africa. Mr. Mjadu was extremely hospitable: he not only provided us with a spot for our tent in the most luxurious campsite I've ever set foot in (complete with laundry, kitchen facilities and even several hot water bathtubs), but also assigned to us a private ranger. The ranger took us to many restricted areas of the park on a 4x4 in search of a black rhino and on a night spotlighting drive. Our many thanks to him. We enjoyed the park so much we stayed an extra night.
springbok at night
Karoo NP photogallery