Category Archives: South Africa

Entabeni

Since the match on Sunday we have had the chance to see the Entabeni wildlife reserve our hotel offer lot’s of activities to allow you to get up close to it’s residents.  The park is home to the ‘Big 5’, which are reasonably easy to see.  On Monday afternoon we went out on our first game drive and quickly saw White Rhino, Elephants, Giraffes, Warthogs, and Gazelles. 

The Rhinos are very inquisitive and came right up to the 4×4 to see what we were up too, a little unnerving for us Brits!  We didn’t see a Rhino in Tanzania last year, here it was the easiest thing to see.

 We dropped down into the lower plains and soon found a pride of lions, including a very large male – by this time it was dusk, which made it very difficult to photograph them.  We found Zebra and Wildebeest at this level too, I guess that’s why the Lions were here.   Darkness falls quickly here, and we made our way back to the lodge where  a BBQ with gorgeous Lamb awaited us.  After watching some African dancing we found a good seat in front of the fire to watch the Germany v Australia game, which for me has been the best game so far – why can’t England play like that!

Next morning we got up early for a much needed run (the rangers took us outside the park!) before breakfast.  We then did a bushwalk with a couple of the rangers, who explained the basics of tracking, local plants, and how to analyise the animal dung!  It was a lovely warm day, but this was the only time we were allowed to walk anywhere, hence the guns!

In the afternoon we went out on Quad bikes around the reserve.  We started with a short safety briefing on what to do if we encounter any animals – although our guides said they didn’t expect to bump into any.  The quads were pretty powerful and proved to be good fun. 

About half way round the reserve our guide stopped and jumped nerviously off his quad and went into the bush – we quickly followed – we had run into four Rhinos including one baby!  At first we thought they had stopped to let us have a look at the Rhinos, but we soon picked up they were worried.  We couldn’t just drive past them as our guide explained that we wouldn’t be able to drive the quad quick enough!  After a 20 minute standoff, during which we identified a few tree’s and rocks we would climb if need be, a 4×4 was called to put a barrier between us and the Rhinos.  We jumped in whilst the guides moved the quads to a safe distance back the way we came so we could contine back to the lodge.  On return to base the guides seemed pretty relieved, describing it as 9 out of 10 on the danger scale!

We weren’t put off though and headed out on the late afternoon game drive, and we were glad we did as we managed to catch sight of a Cheeta as dusk set in, very lucky 🙂  At a safe distance we stopped for a beer, it had been a fun and interesting day!

In the evening we were served a delicious meal, we have eaten like Kings here, and watched the Italy v Paraguay game – typical dull game featuring Italy!

Tuesday has been less dramatic, we started with some fly fishing at a lake – home to Hippos but no fish it seemed as we didn’t even get a bite!  In the afternoon we went on a boat trip around the lake for a closer look at the Hippos, although we only saw the top of their heads popping up out of the water!

The park has a golf course, which includes a famous 19th hole which is played from the top of the rock in the photo below – a helicopter flies you up and down (costs a few bob though). 

It was pretty windy and a  lot chillier than the day before, we are reminded it is winter here – really cold, so the afternoon has been spent in the lounge watching the footy.   The big TV and open log fire has been fantastic!

Unfortunately tomorrow we head for home,  our brief encouter with South Africa is coming to an end.  We have had a great time, the experiences at Entabeni (I would recommed it as a place to visit) have been an added bonus to the experience of the England game.  It will be nasty watching the next England game on the TV knowing we were in South Africa, but we have also been very lucky to have experienced a buzzing South Africa during the World Cup.

England v USA

We arrived in Johannesburg early on Friday morning after an eleven hour flight from the UK.  I managed to sleep for a good 6-7 hours so it passed quite quickly and I didn’t feel to tired on arrival.  Johannesburg airport was buzzing with the sound of the Vuvuzela, which is the South African trumpet, and we have heard everywhere since we arrived.  We are away with Thomas Cook sport and they had a rep waiting for us and we were soon on the coach headed to our hotel in the Waterberg region.

First impressions we that SA is very developed with good roads and modern buildings.  After a few hours on the coach we arrived in the middle of nowhere at our hotel!  We are in a lodge right in the middle of the game park, and we had to transfer to 4×4’s for the last 5km to our lodge.  On the way we soon saw Giraffes, Gazelle, and Rhino’s – now we are in Africa!

On arrival the hotel staff put on a traditional dance for us and had a fruit juice waiting for us.  Nice.  Our lodges are over looking a Ravine, which offers excellent views.  We soon hung our England flags up 🙂  

After a quick shower we headed to the bar to watch the SA v Mexico game, and with plenty of local interest there was a good atmosphere.  When SA scored the locals went crazy!  After that it was France v Uruguay, which was a dull game, and soon after the final whistle we retired to bed as we were by now pretty knackered!

Saturday was all about England, after a nice breakfast buffet we headed back to the coach for the drive to Rustenberg.  After a few hours we stopped about an hour for a beer in a sports bar along the way, which was a nice break but the bar we’re showing the Rugby!! 

The final drive to the stadium took longer than expected due to heavy traffic and we were relieved when the stadium finally came into view.  First impressions were that there were masses and masses of England flags!!  After a slow drive through the crowds we finally arrived at about 19:00 and headed straight into the stadium.  It was a very impressive with, nice pitch and a large ground without a roof and England flags hung in every available space!  There was also plenty of USA fans, but the England fans seemed to outnumber them two or three to one.

We battled through the crowds and bought ourselves some beers, programs, and Vuvuzela’s!

Our seats were great, we were in one corner of the ground but had a good view across the pitch.

The teams soon came out and the national anthems rang out, and of course we sang along to “God Save the Queen”, patriotism to the max!

The atmosphere was great, lots of England chanting, although the sound of the Vuvuzela’s dominated everything – sounded like a big swarm of bees!  The game kicked off andbefore we knew it Englandscored from Gerrard, we went bonkers!  Unfortunately our celebrations soon turned to frustration as England struggled to stamp their authority on the game with USA seemingly dominating the midfield, andwinning a lot of the the 50:50 balls.  Even worse not long before half-time a seemingly weak shot was spilled by England keeper Green and rolled agonisingly over the line – gutted!

2ndhalf was better with England playing much more attacking football, good chances for Heskey (who I thought played very well) and Wright-Phillips were hit straight at the USA keeper much too our frustration!  We weren’t the only ones who were frustrated though, Rooney was being well shackled by his marker who arguably was the man of the match.  The USA had their chances though, and a good save by Green pushed a shot onto the bar – this was getting nervy!  The last 15 mins of the game played out with the USA seemingly happy to play for a draw andleave England with little chance of a goal. 

The final whistle went and the USA celebrated with their fans whilst the England players quickly left the pitch clearly disappointed.  It felt like a loss to us and we were a little disappointed with the result.   England must play better in the next games.

We found our way aback to the coach and then had the long drive back to the hotel, stopping on the way at a service station where we had a nice steak pie, not so different to back home!  Transferring back into the 4×4’s it was flipping freezing, the temperature really drops here at night.  Fortunately we have electric blankets on the bed, and it was blissfully wonderfulto crawl into bed around 5am!

This morning after a lovely outdoor breakfast over looking the plains, we watched highlights of the game.  It looks different on TV, England looked more dominate.  Oh well, it’s only the first game and hopefully Capello will iron out a few things before the next game.  Hopefully the players will up their game and we will go on and win the group.  It was a great experience, and South Africa is buzzing!

Today it’s time to relax, watch the games and enjoy the Safari park.  There’s lot’s of activities to do here, game drives, golf, quad biking, helicopter rides, and spa therapies! 

Hope the atmosphere back home is just as good, “Come on England!”

South Africa bound

Exciting news!  On June 10th 2010 four of us (me, Russ, Rich, and Jonny) are flying out to South Africa to watch England’s opening game at the world cup.

We only booked the trip about a month ago.  Jonny found a good deal, £999 for flights, match ticket, full board hotel, & transfers, so it was a no-brainer to go for it!  I’ve always wanted to see England play at a WC.

We are flying into Johannesburg and will then transfer by bus to our hotel about 3 hours away at the Entabeni Safari Conservatory (looks a bit posh for footy fans!) in the Waterberg region.  We will base ourselves there for 5 days, during which time we will watch the England v USA game on Saturday June 12th in Rustenberg.  The hotel is located in a game reserve so on our ‘leisure’ days there will be the opportunity for some Safari’s, as well as relaxing around the pool 🙂

England shirt and flags packed, and to get into the vibe I’ve loaded up my iPod with videos of England highlights from the past…..David Platt v Belgium at Italia ’90…..Gazza v Scotland at Euro ’96…..Owen v the Argies ’98….  🙂

I think the USA will be England’s toughest opponents in the group phase so I am hoping for an entertaining game, it would be great to kick off with a win…..my prediction is 2:0 to England.

Unfortunately we don’t have too long to check out South Africa but I am looking forward to a taste of what the country has to offer.  Check back again soon to hear our perspective on the game and keep up-to-date about our trip.

Come on England!  Let the emotional roller-coaster of supporting England begin – could this end 44 years of hurt!?!