The Start Of My Gap Year to South Africa

It was the 31st March 2010 when I started my gap year travels. Here I was off to South Africa. My mum and dad left me at Heathrow, with my mum crying as I walked off into security. My adventure had started! I hanged around in the departure hall, buying some water and food supplies to snack on during the flight. Then it was time to walk to the gate, relax there for a bit, then board the flight that would take me to Johannesburg. I was lucky enough to have a seat by the window. I soon discovered that the guy I was sitting next to was a runner heading to Cape Town for a marathon. Rather him than me! We had dinner and I watched some of the in flight movies. There was a family with young children in the middle of the plane in our row, which I soon realised was Hermione Norris, a British actress for those of you not in the now, and her family. By the morning I had come not be a fan of them as her baby had cried all night, and consequently I had had little sleep.

Nelspruit airport. Image not my own.

As soon as I got off the flight in Johannesburg, I turned on my phone. I was hoping I would have a text from a Scottish girl, who I had arranged to meet up with there. We were both going to the same place for our gap year, so were both bound for the same next flight. Luckily she had texted me and after reclaiming my baggage, where I caught my last glimpse of Hermione Norris and family, I met her sitting against a pillar. We both went and checked in our baggage for the next flight to Nelspruit, then wandered off towards departures. Here we ate some food, and then sat at our departure gate, watching slowly as most of the flights were either delayed or cancelled. When our flight got further up the board it came up as delayed, and then was changed to another gate, which luckily was close to where we were staying. Finally, we got on the flight, and arrived at Nelspruit around 2/3pm. Nelspruit airport looks incredible, and has a traditional roof. Here the baggage conveyor wasn’t working so we took out bags out of a trailer that was brought over from the small plane we had been travelling in. So now with baggage, we went and met the ranger and two other gappers who had been patiently waiting there for our delayed car. We put our stuff in the back of the small car, and all squished in, setting of for Kwa Madwala Private Game Reserve. The driving on the way did leave us wondering if we would get there alive though. I do now believe that is the normal way people drive in Africa.

The room seen on the other side of the pool, where the curtains are closed, was our room. Image not my own.

Once we had entered the game reserve, we were off the tarmac and onto bumping sandy reserve roads. We soon passed a grass airstrip and saw some impala and wildebeest, then shortly afterwards we saw the elephant trainers and the two tame elephants. We arrived, dumped our stuff in the room us to girls would be sharing, and said hi to all the others that had arrive the day before. Chicken stir fry and rice was for dinner, then we sat around chatting for a while before heading to bed. I can’t believe we have seen impala and the elephants already. What an amazing first day in this place.

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2 responses to “The Start Of My Gap Year to South Africa

  1. So jealous! I’m considering doing a study abroad program through my university in South Africa, but it’s still another year or so away. I’ll just have to read your blog posts until then 😛

    • That sounds so exciting! I miss that place so much, it really does get under your skin! I apologise if my posts are a bit illiterate, I tend to just type straight from my diary because I’m a bit lazy 😛

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