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Trip Report My Absolutely Fabulous Bad Hair Safari

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Okay, so the bad hair doesn’t happen for a day or two; please bear with me. Or, if you don’t want to read the whole thing (is likely to go on for ever as I want to give as much information as possible -- I received an incredible amount of help from these boards), a precis: Two long-in-the-tooth types from San Francisco spend 12 nights in &Beyond properties in Ngala, Sabi Sand and Phinda, see things beyond imagining, go for the animals & fall in love with the people, eat way too much, and have a flawless vacation.

We left September 12th from SFO-DBX-JNB on Emirates and were so happy with our choice; waved off the luggage & did not see it again till JNB. Fifteen plus hours later, on a flight with plenty of leg room in economy and only about two thirds full, we arrived in Dubai to be escorted through a “secret” security (no line) by a representative of the Dubai International Hotel. I had booked an executive room for the bathtub, but that meant we also got the 6th floor, looking down into the airport itself and out to its loading jumbos, and utterly quiet. The room was large, comfortable, spotless, & decorated in soothing colors. All toiletries are provided so all you need are your jammies and fresh underwear. The hot deep bath did what I expected it to do: save my sanity after a very long flight.

We slept well, ate breakfast at a cafeteria Emirates provides, walked a few minutes to our gate and boarded the onward 8 hour flight to JNB. This leg was almost full, but did manage to get a seat between us, so not too bad. Someone met us at the airport and drove us to the nearby Safari Club for two nights (wanted time to catch up to myself) before the beginning of the trip proper. This place was suggested by Tanya Kotze of Africa Direct, who made all arrangements and did them well.

The Safari Club is a secure oasis in the middle of a very iffy neighborhood 5 minutes from the airport; you pass through two security gates into their large well tended beautiful garden; spring had just begun, the roses were leafing out and there were flowers everywhere. En route to the SC in the evening rush hour, I was moved to be in South Africa at last -- its dichotomy was immediately apparent, out of one van window, workers walking home on dirt roads with the huge disc of dusty sun setting behind them and skeins of cranes overhead; out of the other window: heavy traffic on the freeway.

The two nights and one day we spent at the SC turned out to be essential. We were knocked out by jet lag, waking in the night, not able to nap in the day, feeling hideous.

This is what lead to the horrible hair mishap (or that’s my story). We got up early on the 16th to fly to Ngala for the beginning of the safari, showered and dressed. Someone on these boards regretted not having a round brush to shape her hair, so I bought a small cheap one and threw it in the case. Moving and thinking like a zombie, for some unfathomable reason I decided to arrive at Ngala looking glamorous. I wound a big hunk of wet hair around the brush, turned on the hair dryer and zoned out. Snapping out of it, I realized that my hair had fried and welded itself to the brush.

Himself had to step up and try to free the brush; after 30 minutes of yanking and cursing, he finally got it out. And threw it in the trash. The top of my head now sported a huge intractable dread-lock of tight frizz, contrasting nicely with the rest of my fine straight hair. Thanking God that I’d packed several hats, I clapped one on and we made the flight.

Next: Lions, leopards, wild dogs at the kill, large layer cakes under glass and much more.

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