Adventures in Africa

Adventures in Africa

Prelude

When I was 17 years old and a high school senior in a small town in Southern Illinois (U.S.), Pernille, came to live with my family and me for the school year as an exchange student from Bornholm, Denmark. Over those nine months, the friendship between Pernille and I grew and we became like sisters. After our senior year, Pernille and I stayed in touch via mail and an occasional telephone call, but over the years we both moved and lost track of each other. Fast forward to Facebook, we found each other again and haven’t stopped communicating since. In July 2015, I took my two sons to visit Pernille and her family in Bornholm and we have since become one modern, international family who I love dearly.

Then, in January 2017, Pernille sent me a message that read “meet me in South Africa in two weeks.” I immediately laughed from my sofa in Northern California where I now live. Who picks up and goes to Africa on a whim?! But, Pernille was persistent and had visited Mpala twice before and knew how magical it is. She told me how incredibly amazing her visits were and a perfect place to relax and have a bit of a “reset…” something we both needed. It didn’t take much to convince me to say YES! Two weeks later, we were off!

Early bird gets the worm! Sunrise over the Olifants River. Wake up calls start at 4 or 5AM at Mpala Safari Lodge. Don’t worry… coffee and breakfast are waiting for you as well as an amazing adventure!

Arriving at Mpala Safari Lodge

After nearly 24 hours of travel that included a two-hour drive to San Francisco and three different flights, I had arrived in South Africa!!! Theo, a ranger at Mpala, met Pernille and I at the Hoedspruit Airport and although I have never met Theo (Pernille had) it was as if an old friend was picking us up at the airport. Pulling out of the airport we immediately spotted giraffe alongside the road… that was just the beginning of a magical week of nature viewing.
Getting to Mpala Safari Lodge requires about a 40-minute drive on what Theo calls “Wake and Shake Road.” It’s a dirt road with a lot of bumps and potholes, and indeed it will keep you hanging on and alert! After the bumpy drive, Mpala’s guest are warmly greeted by the entire team of staff when you pull into the carport. For Pernille (and I’m sure other returning guests) it feels like returning home.

“Wake and Shake Road” on the way to Mpala Safari Lodge. The bush was very green after receiving much needed rain.

Mpala Safari Lodge Staff

My Facebook Post – January 17, 2017 (Day 2 at Mpala Safari Lodge)

Speechless!
Cruising alongside my Danish sister on ATVs in the bush and came around a corner to find this AMAZING creature before us. We were a bit fearless coming up toward the lion until Theo, our ranger, motioned for us to move along quickly as the male lion was getting a little bit too curious about us. This was right after Pernille and I were giggling as a giraffe family (the “bush hippies”) galloped alongside our ATVs for a bit as we drove past. ummm… what?
Still not quite fully processing what is happening before my eyes. After a near 24-hour 3-different flights adventure to arrive near Kruger National Park I am still spent. After arriving at the last airport in Hoedspruit we had a 40-minute drive along a dirt road into Mpala Safari Lodge. Along the way we spotted buffalo, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impalas, jackals, crocodiles, and hippos. Surreal! We had a lovely dinner of spring buck (like an antelope… when in Rome!) and woke up to baboons running all over the front of our chalet. After spotting the lion we were taken to a candlelit dinner in the bush where we were greeted with champagne. Three days of game drives before us. I’m giddy! (and maybe a little bit buzzed from South African wine!) Love!

Place to ourselves (almost)! Pernille and I shared the beautiful lodge with just two other people, a lovely Danish couple (Jens Clausen and Linda Kronsted).

Another highlight of the trip is an ATV ride through the bush! We had so much fun we opted for a second ride later in the week.

Came around a corner on our ATVs to find this guy greeting us! O-M-G!
One of the rangers said it was his first time in 20+ years that he has spotted a lion while on an ATV (lucky us!).

Dining at Mpala Safari Lodge

Dining at Mpala is delicious, fun, and different… zebra, anyone?! Depending on the day’s activities the venue and format for the meal will change. Whether you are enjoying breakfast on the deck overlooking the Olifants River, a Bar-b-que picnic lunch in Kruger National Park, or (my favorite) candlelit dinner in the bush… it’s all amazing!

Candlelight dinner under a bush willow and 1,000 stars… I will take this over a five-star restaurant any day!

Candlelit Dinner is ready in the boma.

Game Drives

Of course one of the highlights of Mpala Safari Lodge are the game drives and walks. The rangers are top-notch, entertaining, and extremely knowledgeable. During our week at Mpala we tracked down four of the Big 5 (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African Leopard)… just missed the rhinoceros, which is the perfect reason for me to return! Mpala Safari Lodge is adjacent to Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa.

Oh hey there, kudus!

Thelma and Louise of the bush! We left the driving up to Theo, but took advantage of plenty of photo opportunities with the jeep!


We spotted this beauty during a game drive in Kruger National Park… amazing!

One of my favorite highlights from our trip to Kruger National Park… What we thought were a few elephants crossing the road turned into a herd of nearly 100 elephants crossing the road. They ranged from a few weeks old (adorable!!!) to over 50 years old. It was truly amazing to witness first-hand the different behaviors. Having well-trained rangers with you, like Theo, turns into quite the wildlife education experience.

Giraffes in the beautiful South African bushveld


We came across this Cape buffalo about 100 meters from our lodge. Theo, our ranger, says it was killed by lions just a few hours earlier. About 50 vultures were flying above the kill afterward. An alarming reminder that Mpala Safari Lodge is practically fenceless and open to Kruger National Park so animals come and go as they please.

Hyena Mama


Vervet monkey mama and baby


Giraffe Kisses


New ranger in town ? This never gets old!

Hippos with your coffee! Mpala Safari Lodge overlooks the Olifants River where we saw hippos swimming every morning over breakfast.

Visit to Diphuti Village School

Mpala Safari Lodge cares about their community. As a way of thanking the local community they provide a contribution to the village elementary school. It was so sweet to visit the school and meet the kids who happily sang a couple of songs for us between classes.

Students at Diphuti Village School

The Drakenberg Mountains

One of the options for an additional experience is a day touring the Drakeberg Mountains. This excursion gives you the opprortunity to explore a very different South African landscape from the bushveld. We spent the day with Theo driving us through small towns (where we got to do a little shopping) and from one amazing view point to the next. Chasing waterfalls in South Africa… highly recommended!


Pernille taking in the view!


Exploring the mountains!


Berlin Falls


Lisbon Falls


“God’s Window”


Local market on our way to the Drakenberg Mountains.

My FaceBook Post – January 25, 2017 (Day 10 at Mpala Safari Lodge)

Leaving South Africa tomorrow with a very full heart. I think it might be impossible to spend 10 days in the wilds of this country without the experience changing you for the better… more grateful, more humble, renewed perspective, greater sense of awe, and absolutely recharged on life.
Thank you for sharing this special time with me, Pernille… I love you. Thank you to Theo Potgieter for sharing your kind heart and love of nature with us!


SKOL!!!

Christmas time at Mpala Safari Lodge

Christmas time at Mpala Safari Lodge

We have entered December and Mpala is prepairing for Christmas.

Because South Africa is located on the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in the summer. Christmas is very hot in South Africa, and that’s the reason why only Christmas trees made of plastic can survive more than a few hours in this climate, so here our Christmas trees are made in more creative forms.

As other years before, December is one of our busiest months. We have a lot of guests spending their holidays at the lodge.

In South Africa the schools are closed for the Christmas holidays and a lot of people like to go camping. In the townships it is a tradition to go caroling and going to the church on Christmas Eve and as in most other christian countries, children leave out stockings for Santa.

Usually the Christmas meal is either turkey (or duck), roast beef, mince pies or suckling pig with yellow rice & raisins and vegetables, followed by Christmas Pudding or a traditional South African desert called Malva Pudding. Because of the heat, the Christmas meal is often eaten outside and some people might even have a barbecue also known as “braai”.

2017 has been a magnificent year with a lot of lovely guests visiting us. We are very pleased with the interest all of you have shown in our small dream of running a lodge in South Africa and we look forward on giving you the times of your lives.

We wish you and your families a very merry christmas.

Yours sincerely

Per & Helle Grunert

 

Returning to Mpala

Returning to Mpala

Does anyone ever win those Facebook contests? I’ve often thought that way, when I’ve browsed the internet, being bombarded with offers of winning this and that. Haven’t you? It’s probably just a way for them to collect permissions to send me newsletters. Even so, I sent my travelogue from my stay at Mpala. Four months later, I received an e-mail from Per (no deals or offers included), stating that I had won the contest. I do have to add, that whenever the contest comes from Mpala, there’s no doubt about the sincerity of the contest. If you are fortunate enough to be admitted into the “family” at Mpala, you would know that it is legitimate.

Once we were done celebrating, we started planning yet another trip to the place I always wanted to go back to. We settled on May 2017. This time I was bringing my son, Darius, aged 14, as a part of his confirmation present. Hopefully a journey and an adventure of a lifetime.

6 years and about 30 hours of travelling later, we finally set foot in Hoedspruit on the 15th of May. The South African wind struck my face and then that old familiar feeling of the adventures to come hit me. We left through the small gate at the airport and exited to the parking lot, where we were greeted by the latest member of the family – Dawie the ranger. We introduced ourselves and chatted a bit while we waited for our luggage.

Helle, one of Mpala’s owners, and her daughter Annelise, were waiting in the car and greeted us as we entered. Dawie started the car and off we were. The talking went on in the car, actually, we had such a good time that no one even noticed the Elephant on the roadside welcoming us with its trunk raised. Well… Nevermind, we were back!

After somewhat 20 minutes of driving, we took a turn down the familiar dirt road and then it hit me. I had completely forgotten how long the drive to the lodge is. Thinking about it, I remembered it as a 5-minute drive, which might have been pretty naive. It is a 25-minute drive on a bumpy dirt road. When you drive on it for the first time, it feels like it’s never going to end. But if you want to experience the real African adventure, you have to get as far away from civilization as possible. Half the way down the road we turned around a corner, and there were Per looking for something on his right-hand side. The first ”present” of the day – Buffalos. Buffalos everywhere! Somewhat 30 buffalos had decided to have their breakfast right there. What a way to start off! After taking at least 50 photos, the last 10 minutes of driving to the lodge went on by fast and a familiar sight came into our view: Mpala Safari Lodge.

There they were again. The Mpala family; greeting us. The chef, the waitresses, the cleaners, the gardeners, the rangers and the manager. I’m writing “again”, cause it all felt the same, even though there has been changes to the staff during the 6 years. A lot of them were the same people though. Somehow it feels like time stopped when I left, but times goes on, even at Mpala. Even though there were some new people, it still felt like I had known these people all my life. Mpala Safari Lodge is truly a magical place.

After the greetings, we got settled in our rooms and went to the porch for a lovely lunch.

 

 

The next morning, the smell of Africa hit the nostrils when we were leaving for our first game drive. A smell that is easily recognizable if you ever visited the lodge before, and if it’s your first time; It’s a part of the adventure. Believe me, it’s not a bad thing, just unusual for our western noses. The time was about 5:30AM, but we were ready. Excited, we sat in the Land Rover and watched the bush as we tumbled down the dirt road. That day we saw antelopes, amongst them a Nyala, a Giraffe and loads of Baboons. Dawie the ranger knows his stuff and has plenty of stories to satisfy even the biggest nature aficionado.

After a short rest back at the lodge, we were out on the second adventure of the day: The quad bikes. We drove around in the huge area and we found out, that dust has a special way of getting into ALL cracks and creases. The good thing about us being there first, was that the next guests probably wouldn’t be able to get as dusty as we did, mainly because I think I removed most of the dust by swallowing it during our drive. On the quad bike tour, we saw Giraffes and a huge male Elephant. The guide went ahead and made a sudden stop. We stayed behind. He came back after a short while. “Up there – Lions”, he said as he pointed. We watched the two young male lions, lying about 80 meters away from us.

“Let’s celebrate this with a refreshment,” he said; “You’re lucky – it’s not too often that we see the lions on the quad bike ride and it’s only the second time I’ve seen them, even though I’ve been on this tour for 25 years.” Later we were told that there were more lions than we could see. They had taken down a giraffe, so the whole pack had to be in the area. Perfect timing!

Happy, satisfies and dusty, we returned to the car and Dawie drove us to the bush camp. The camp is quite some distance from the lodge and in the middle of the bush. However, it has a sink with running water and even a toilet. We washed of the dirt and the rest of the night was spent on dinner in the bush and the bright night sky of the southern hemisphere. Later on, back at the lodge, tired and happy after an exciting day, we got under our covers and crawled back in safety behind the mosquito net.

The phone rings; it’s Dawie. It’s early morning and the sun isn’t out yet, but the coffee is ready and we’re going on a bush walk. The largest and only animal we see on our walk is a squirrel. No worries, cause there is a lot of other things to look at, and the sensation of walking in the bush without the safety of the car is quite unique. Just feeling the grass brushing against your legs and seeing the landscape up close is amazing. Besides that, Dawie can tell about all the small things we usually don’t see from the car. The various different kinds of plants and trees, the uses of them amongst the native inhabitants and all the different kind of tracks from the animals.

After lunch, Dawie and Stacey took us to the village school. A visit I especially had looked forward to. The school looks like it did 6 years ago, besides the fact that they now have a computer room, donated by a very generous visitor at Mpala. In the kindergarten, the children are cheering us on, everyone smiling and laughing. “It’s funny how it’s often the people that has the least, that are the happiest”, Dawie said. A sentence I will keep in mind the rest of my life. Nothing is more true, and it suited the situation perfectly. It put our lives into perspective and made me realize how lucky I am.

Onwards to Mpala’s latest project; A local daycare in the village a 5-minute drive from the School. The place is called Mmakadi. In gratitude, the children made a special parking spot for Mpala, written in yellow letters on the pavement is the words “Mpala parking”. We are greeted by the head of the daycare, Gloria. She speaks in pride of the place and tells us about the work they do. She takes us to the room where all the small children sit, eyes peeled. They sing and dance for us, while we all sit back and smile about the fact, that out visit contributes to the support of these poor children. Mpala is very committed to helping out the local residents, and especially the children.

While walking back to the car, all the children sit on the only playing rack, waving goodbye. Mpala and the daycare has plans for renovating the place, with money that comes from the generous donations from Mpala’s guests. I look forward on seeing what has been done, when I return once again.

It’s Thursday and the next 2 days are spent in Krüger National Park. We leave early and arrive shortly after the gates are opened. After 10 minutes, Darius wins our small internal contest to spot an animal first. It was an impala. Besides the impala, we see wildebeest and zebras everywhere. We continue on and it doesn’t take long before we spot 4 rhinos grazing in the distance. As we quietly follow them, they come closer and closer. All the other cars have driven by, not noticing anything, so for half an hour we had this amazing sight all to ourselves.

The rest of the day goes on with sightings of elephants, giraffes and antelopes by the masses, before we drive through the gates of Lebata Camp in the late afternoon. Here we will spend the night. It’s a quiet place where the monkeys moan and wait for a moment’s inattention from the poor guard, who hopelessly spins around and tries to chase them away, so they don’t steal the guests’ dinner. An ungrateful job that never stops, but has a lot of entertainment value for the guests.

The next morning, we get up early. We’re heading out as soon as the gate opens to see the sunrise. Definitely worth the early wake. Again, we drive around and look. We don’t see much more than elephants and giraffes, but that’s the nature – not every day is the same and one day there can be animals by the masses and the next day might be a lot quieter. We are there on nature’s terms and we will see whatever Krüger decides to offer us that day. If you want to be sure to see all the Big Five every day, go to the zoo. Personally. I prefer to enjoy the gifts that nature brings us.

We didn’t see any lions, hyenas, wild dogs or leopards. But we still got Krüger under the skin and walked away with amazing natural experiences. The advantages of not seeing everything is, that you have the perfect excuse to return again.

The Drakensberg mountains were on Saturday’s schedule. All the well-known places, amazing natural scenery, winding mountain roads and small villages. We also chose an additional experience in the form of a backward bungee jump called “the big swing”. This is usually not something mentioned in the brochure or on the website. It was by chance we came across the subject during the dinner a few days earlier, when Helle mentioned that it was a possibility. Stacey got us booked in for the jump. Now we were nervously and excited waiting for our turn. I was first. I was led to the edge and the instructor got me strapped in, while he was telling me about the procedure. “You’re going to go to the edge, put your heel beyond the board and bend the knees”. He held on to the rope while I was leaning back. And then he let go!

If you’ve ever felt like 4 seconds turned into 20, you know the feeling of a bungee jump. There’s nothing quite like it. The view of the waterfall, falling to the bottom along with me, was indescribable. The elastic rope tightened and I swung away from the rocks. All I could do was to enjoy the ride. Both Darius and Annelise from the lodge tried it too. If you are into adrenaline kicks, I recommend that you ask for this excursion. After the jump, we celebrated it with a pancake at a place called “Harry’s Pancakes” in the small town of Graskop. It’s actually pretty hard to eat pancakes with a big smile on the lips.

The last day arrived upon us. We were going on a river cruise with breakfast on an old steamboat. We slowly sailed away. We were all alone, besides a single other guest that also turned out to be from Denmark. We talked a bit and looked at the animals on the shore and life of the locals doing their daily chores while the pale Danes sailed past.

We end our stay at Mpala with a final game drive and a drink in the watch tower, while the sun sets in the horizon, listening to Dawie telling tall tales and enjoying our last evening to the fullest.

All good things must come to an end and this day came way too soon. We’re going home, but we’re coming back. I never imagined that a week could go by so quickly. Darius had set his mind; he didn’t think that we would ever meet people as nice, as the people at Mpala. It made him wonder, why we were even going to Cape Town to spend the next week. He’d rather stay at Mpala for an additional week. When a 14-year-old boy is longing to stay at a desolate place with slow Wi-Fi and no television – They’re doing everything right!

I feel like saying, that everything at Mpala is the same. That wouldn’t be true. The magic is the same and you will still long to go back, even though you only returned back home. The tranquility is still there. The adventures are still great and you will never get tired of all the things the nature has to offer. My expectations were high and once again they were met, and exceeded.

Mpala, thank you ever so much. I will definitely see you all again.

Sincerely

Kenneth Vikkelsø, May 2017

Safari in a wheelchair

Safari in a wheelchair

”If you can manage the trip down here – we can take care of the rest”

That was the words, when I met Per at a spring-exhibition in April, 2014 in Hillerød. I’ve dreamed about a trip to South Africa for so long, but since I’ve become partly bound to a wheelchair I almost gave up on that idea. Now here’s the opportunity – The doctors and my insurance agent gave a green light – I’m going.

(more…)

Africa and Mpala

Africa and Mpala

Africa og Mpala


I have been many places in the world already. Both the east and west, north and south. I have a fondness for Greece that I love, but my trip to south Africa and especially Mpala Safari Lodge still stands as no. 1 on my list of experiences I will never forget.

What do you give the man who has everything? It was the dilemma my mother and I were in when we had to find a gift for my dad’s 50th birthday. The man who does not want anything other than socks and liquorice as a  birthday gift. It had to be something special. Our choice fell on a journey. A journey that would prove to affect our way of travel forever.

Initially it was supposed to be a shark dive with great white sharks to the east of Cape Town, but a google search made me fall over Mpala Safari Lodge. An email with a question to Per, a friendly response back, told me that of course we should extend the trip with 9 days and book a stay at Mpala.

Our program was densely packed and looked like this:
Day 1 Fly and elephants 

Well arrived in Nelspruit and full of anticipation we get out of the arrivals hall where our ranger stands with a sign exactly as you see in the movies. He smiles and gives us the hand and says;” Welcome to south Africa”. He helps us out to the Land Rover which sits in the parking lot, throw the suitcases in the car and tells us that there is a small hour drive to the hotel. Along the way he talks merrily about life down there, all the while overtaking and turn on the hazard warning on the car whenever he overtakes. ” You do this as a thank you”, he tells us.

1 hour later we are at our hotel, well-tired after over 24 hours in multiple aircrafts. At the counter the ranger says goodbye, with a message about being ready the day after at. 08. ”By the way”, he says and continues, ” by the side of the hotel there is a elephant sanctuary”. ”You should visit it”,” if you have the energy for it.”

We are tired, but since we didn’t come to Africa to rest, we find ourselves at at the gate at 4pm. From here we are led up to the stables for the elephants where we get the safety instructions. Then we get the stories about the elephants and the site while we are led down to a small clearing where two VERY large animals looking at us with their brown eyes. Here we get permission to feed, scratching and go for a walk with them. We learned that when you give peanuts to an elephant, well then do it just like in the movies. Suck them up with the trunk. Good start on the trip.

Day 2 Panoramaruten, God’s Window, potholes and a great view.

At 8am our Ranger stands in the reception area and smile. We are still a little groggy from the jet lag, but, after all, ready for another day. The trip goes to the prospector town of pilgrim’s Rest, waterfalls, Burke’s Pothols and the Blyde River Canyon

You can’t be anything other than impressed when you look out at The Three Rondaveller, or the canyon 800 metres below you. Only the view was the long drive worth it.

After the trip through the Dragens mountains we turn on the small road to Mpala. While we drive on the rocky dirt roads, we tell the ranger that we are happy that we didn’t, as planned, chose to drive up here, cause we would never have found the place. Smiling he says ” I would also advise against it, since all of the animals here are free to roam around”. He has hardly finished his sentence before we get our first experience on the Mpalas area. From left braces a large male elephant out from the bush and takes flight toward the river and leaving a cloud of dust in front of the car.

As we arrive at the Lodge the staff is waiting for us. Everything from cleaning to Estel (the manager) We are welcomed by all and are shown to our hut, with the message to get down into the Main House for some water and lunch. All the while we stand and enjoy the view of the river flowing past, you suddenly hear the song and joy. On the the lawn, a marches a bunch of nicely dressed dancers where we are spoilt with local tribal dance. Fantastic. In the evening we were served Impala. Our first taste of Africa.

 

 Day 3 Bushwalk and game and Night drive

After breakfast, we move out into the surrounding scenery at the Lodge. Our ranger (Juan) is both competent and sharp. He spots the animals quickly and is good to tell us about the area.

In the afternoon, we drive to another area where there’s wildlife, a beautiful sunset and a dinner in the bush with the steaks that makes Fred Flintstones dinosaur steaks look like cutlets.

After the dinner it is time for the Nightdrive, a very different experience to hear and see Africa after dark.
Dag 4 Gamedrive and the village school

In the morning we are on the move again and exploring the area at Mpala, this time in the car. Really, it seemed all a little sad because we only saw a Zebra, and a lot of impalas. However, it was not right up until we swung to the left. Juan turns off the engine. We sit and scout until we see what Juan has spotted. A bunch of elephants, at least 10 pcs. They’re coming right towards us. With a lump in the throat, we sit completely still while the herd goes past, heading towards the river. One is astonished of how such a large animal can be so silentl when it walks.

After a delicious lunch, we visit the local school, a place, you can clearly feel, means a lot for Estel. We meet the inspector. You come into a class, get a song and visit the local kindergarten, 2 teachers and at least 40 children. Down here HIV is a big problem and it hurts to see small children, without the possibility of medication. I still think of it from time to time. The trip was probably what impacted me the most of all the things we saw. It puts things in perspective and shows how good we have it in Europe.
Dag 5+6 Kruger National park

Off to Kruger. There is everything here. The trip there is long, but worth it. It helps of course that the Lodge has provided delicious packed lunches and Juan is excellent to prepare it. And, he keeps a sharp eye on the monkeys that lurks for a quick meal, if we look away. The day goes along with driving around and seeing the animals and the area. As we arrive to our hotel we board the Sun Down ride to see the sunset. Here is both the rhino and the buffalo on the program.

In the morning, we’re up early to see one of the most beautiful sunrises I, to date, have seen. The rest of the day quickly runs out and tired and tender, we arrive at the Lodge for another delicious dinner. 

 

Dag 7 Hot air balloon and the animal hospital

At 3am we get the wake-up call. We must get up, if we want to see the sunrise from a hot air balloon. After a much-needed cup of coffee, we’re off towards our take-off site. We salute our captain and looks expectant on our balloon getting enough hot air inboard to raise itself from the ground of the earth. Of it goes and in the air we are blessed with a courtship (a young couple that joined us) and an incredible sunrise, while the captain tells the stories and all the places he has flown.

Back down, the trip goes to the vet and awaiting experiences with the vultures, baby rhino, honeybadger and cheetahs up close. The manager and the owner of the hospital tells about the problems of animals in the country and what they are doing to improve it. Surely a place you must visit.

Dag 8. Hippos, Crocodiles og a nice ending

Tired but still hungry for experiences, we go on the River Cruise. It is an old paddle steamer and the ride is quiet while watching the hippo relax in the surface of the water, the elephants come and drink and the crocodiles that soak up the sun on the sand banks.

Back at the Lodge we go up in the watch tower. We look out over the whole area while we enjoy the sunset and a glass of champagne. The evening is set for a nice dinner. We all eat together, the rangers, Estel and guests, while we hear stories about the experiences and things around the Lodge.

Ending

For those who haven’t been at Mpala, go there. To all of us who have. We will be back. Since I went I have been thinking a lot about what makes you want to return again and again. Was it the sunsets, the scenery, the unique silence of the night, or the unique experiences? They are amazing-each of them. But the answer is no.

It’s there for me to do, I will back, is the staff, they are the ones that make the Mpala unique. You don’t feel you are on a journey, you feel you are being a part of a family. I can see many of the guests have become friends with staff on Facebook and I think many still follow what’s happening at the Lodge, although it is many years since you have been there.

Whether it is Per or Helle’s friendly tone and helpfulness in orders, Estels warm and loving personality, the ranger’s skill and witty feature, or the always smiling gardeners and cleaning, I cannot say. I can only say that as soon as you leave the Lodge, the yearn to come back and revisit the place, the people and once again experience the atmosphere of this incredible little spot of happiness, tucked well away in Africa is emmense.

 

Sincerely,

Kenneth Vikkelsø og Finn Christensen.