A Monkey, an elephant and a hot air balloon!

Roaming Newton: Chapter 14: Welcome to the outskirts of Johannesburg!
Roaming NewtonAn ice cold European winter, a roaring fire and the constant thought of bears in your backyard! Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration but I am sure I heard a noise in the garden the other night that made me scramble for the highest point within eyeshot. I had my share of skiing and ice, however I felt as if I was about to turn into one giant ice cube. I was in need of an African sunshine and home (South Africa) didn’t sound too bad. So I packed my bags and headed on the next flight back with just one thought on my mind…adventure!

Being back in Johannesburg is one thing but seeking adventure is another. Johannesburg is quite literally a concrete jungle with the occasional Parktown Prawn running around(I would take on one of those beasts ahead of a Bear any day of the week and twice on Sunday!). The real adventures where not in Johannesburg but rather lay on the outskirts of the city. Of course the crocodiles in Swaziland gave me a scare but I was looking for something with a bit more substance than a big crazy lizard and where better to start than where it all began at the Cradle of Humankind! With my backpack and cameras packed I got going, knowing that my European winter had only just ended, this was the start of my African summer!
First stop Maropeng! It’s the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind and is jam packed with information and history! Besides the odd human skull displays and snake warnings which welcomes you with a shot of adrenaline, Maropeng is a heart warming experience and definitely a must visit site! http://www.maropeng.co.za
Next up primates of a different yet similar kind! The Bush Babies: Monkey Sanctuary, is a wonderful adventure with a twist! This sanctuary is dedicated to helping primates be able to live on their own in the wild. Exotic is putting it mildly, it’s an eye-opener of note and seeing junior King Kong’s kicking up a fuss is quite entertaining indeed.
Stop Number three: The Elephant Sanctuary, this is super cool, firstly as I was the only South African there (it’s a big international tourist attraction) and secondly you get to feed and walk with Elephants. It’s educational and some what soothing at the same time. If you are lucky you are able to visit the bull elephant which inhabits the sanctuary,. So much for my fear of crocodiles and bears, seeing an animal of that size put my life into perspective!
Next up the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, getting to play with white lion cubs is really a bigger deal than one can imagine. http://www.rhinolion.co.za
Stop number five: The show stopper!! A hot air balloon ride with Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris. You have to be up before the crack of dawn to make the flight but a balloon ride over any part of Africa is worth the early start. A first class adventure which is setup with awesome precision, you have to see it to believe it!
Check out www.balloon.co.za for more details!
The final stop or in this case the pit stop: it’s a huge u-turn but driving from the origins of humans to the quiet spot of the Sondela Nature Reserve is a decent drive that will allow you to appreciate the reserve so much more. From bike drives, to the odd buck trying to steal your lunch and then of course the large population of Guineafowl who seem to think their lives are worth risking at all costs (crazy birds!). It’s basically a mix of urban living with the wild at your doorstep a great place to recharge your batteries from the big city.
Returning to Johannesburg and seeing the concrete jungle again, it’s a kind reminder to know that the wild is only just a blink of an eye away and Africa after all that we have done to it still remains as wild as it can be.