Kruger National Park - South Africa
I'm currently in Cape Town as I am writing this post. And I have experienced, in the past 5 days, a whole new continent and side of the world that I never thought I would have a chance to see.
I LOVE it here! The people are so lovely, and there is so much to learn from their attitudes and way of life. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to travel and meet people from all over the world. Yes, I do get that opportunity when I meet new members in the box, but having the privilege to see people in their element where they are from is totally different. I am the foreigner in this land and through that lens, the world is so much wider.
I'll just talk about my experience in Thornybush Game Lodge, located just off Kruger National Park. We spent our nights here, after selecting this lodge out of a list of 3 provided by Go2Africa.
We arrived through Johannesburg and took a local flight into Hoedspruit Airport. This allowed us to be in time for lunch and tea at the lodge before we headed out for our first game of the trip.
They run a pretty tight schedule which looks something like this:
5:30AM - Morning Call
6:00AM - Coffee & a light snack
6:15AM - Game 1 (which includes an aperitif @ 8AM)
9:00AM - Breakfast
1:30PM - Lunch
3:15PM - Tea
3:30PM - Game 2 (which includes an aperitif @ 6PM)
7:00PM - Dinner
Needless to say we were shocked at the level of service, cleanliness, and beauty of the lodge. We were assigned a butler who would look after us through all our meals from day 1. And walking back to our rooms at night HAD to be accompanied by a worker there as well as animals would roam around freely at night.
The safari, or what they'd call "games", were very exciting. We were shown to a jeep, to which our first reaction was "WHAT?! Where's the roof?"
But it's safe really.
Rule of thumb: Respect the Animals and they will respect you.
Also, just don't stand up in the jeep and make sudden movements or they would perceive you as a threat and God only knows what will happen next.
The first night was EXCITING. We caught wind of two leopards mating when we heard low growls in a bush behind us. We followed the pair as they continued to mark their territory and looked for places to mate.
The other days had its own interesting finds in each game. We were not as lucky for some of the morning games as animals would move around in the night and most mornings were spent TRACKING the animals so that we could revisit these places in the afternoon games.
Everything was just very REAL and right out of a BBC documentary, or one of those "discover Africa" type films.
And while I explored this side of the world, I realised that the interest I had in nature as a kid -- migration patterns, behaviour of animals, plants, etc. etc. -- I had simply forgotten with the passage of time. Education, work, seemed more important. An importance that would override nature's course and God's creation even. Just driving aimlessly for hours with the opportunity to think, observe, and learn, was opportune to remember all these things. And the one night that we would spend a few minutes looking at constellations and seeing the milky way in full form across the night sky just blew up into cosmic proportions the ability and grandeur of God.
I do not want to get your hopes up, or spoil the experience for you. But every moment had something special to be learned, and had something new to take away.
People we met at the lodge were lovely. Some locals and a few who travelled from overseas just like us. The guides were friendly and knowledgeable, and their love for nature and her gifts was contagious.
Oh yes, and THE FOOD. They have in-house cooks that make EVERYTHING and pretty much ANYTHING. When my mum got tired of the food she requested grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast and pasta for dinner and hey, she got it.
We got fed 5x a day at the lodge and 2x more on the game drives themselves which meant that we fattened up really nicely, just in case the Rangers wanted to leave us behind to save themselves from the predators.
Here are some pictures of the food we ate:
If you've been to a Club Med, this is like an upscale version of it. They take care of EVERYTHING.
Thornybush Nature Reserve starts at approximately US$730 per person per night, which includes all meals (trust me this is ALOT of food), and 2 games in the day.
Not a sponsored post, but TOTALLY worth the money.
And you MUST visit South Africa sometime.