Cold winter night turned into South Africa
On a cold and dark winter night, I mentioned safari in South Africa to Dorrit.
Six months later, on a Monday in August, we’re standing in Hoedspruit. We’re welcomed to South Africa by Ryno, one of the rangers. This is going to be one of greatest things we’ve ever experienced.
On our way to the lodge we’re joking a bit. Have we been kidnapped? Where are we going? But what an amazing nature to be in. This looks promising.
What a welcoming from the staff, whom makes Mpala so unique. On the deck waits a well-set table, but with the view and the white-headed vulture circling above us, it is difficult to keep attention on the food.
Later, that same afternoon, the local dancing tribe arrives to the sound of drums, singing and tribal dance.
It’s early morning. We’ve heard the lions at night. Others tell the same story. During the bush walk, we see birds and animals, amongst others both a scorpion and a dead giraffe.
It has become time for a trip on the quadbikes. Extremely fun and very dusty. We met a big pack of buffalos, approximately 75 animals. It was incredible to get that close to such a dangerous animal.
Dusty, we arrive at the bush camp. They really did an amazing job. We had a great evening with open fire cooking and a lot of good stories.
Per takes us to the cars, and in the dark the milky way is as clear as ever. I’ve never seen that many stars.
Some of the guests chose to camp out at the bush camp.
It’s time for the Game Drive. It is still cold in the morning, so we enjoy the sun’s first rays. We saw a lot of animals, but still have the biggest animals left.
Later, when I’m sitting at our chalet a very focused, and big, male baboon is walking towards the kitchen. He opens the door, grabs a pancake and runs off. Followed by the cook – and probably some profanity.
Early up and on our way to Kruger National Park. Once again the lions have roared through the night.
It doesn’t take long before we see a lot of animals. Dorrit often spoke of the Elephants, and when we might get to see them. At the very same moment, a huge old male Elephant is seen between the trees, not more than eight metres from us. She is very touched by the experience and a small drop of tears becomes visible.
At a toilet in Skukuza Camp a small schoolboy walks up and grabs Dorrit’s hand. He wanted to touch her white skin. He was very kind, and at the same time a cheeky little boy. We almost wanted to adopt him – Even though his parents might not agree to us bringing him back home.
It was amazing to see the Leopard sleeping next to it’s prey, an Impala.
We managed to see all the big 5 on the very first day. It’s is wonderful the see the animals, both at Kruger and at Mpala. At the same time, it’s on the animal’s premises. They are seen, when they want to.
The night end with a nice dinner, which is prepared by Theo and Ryno.
On our way back to the lodge, at the last turn before the lodge, we see a herd of elephants on the opposite river bed. We hurry down to the river, where we sit and admire the animals for 2-3 hours. It is revitalizing to see. Away from television, cellphones and pc’s. It feels like, that anything beyond this very moment, doesn’t matter.
Wakeup at 6am – Panorama tour. A very different trip awaits.
We head on to the mountains. The Drakensberg. An amazing journey.
We see several waterfalls and amazing views. There’s a stalactite cave, which was once inhabited by an African tribe.
After a lovely dinner, everyone went to bed. We agreed to enjoy a bottle of red wine on our terrace. Now it was that I had bought a ring for Dorrit from home. Well nervous I fell on my knees and proposed to her. It was a yes. As we sit there and enjoy, we hear the roar of a lion very close. We are just sitting still. The animals grazing a few meters from us, raise their heads and quietly pull away.
Is the lion planning a visit? 20 minutes later, I see a brownish back, go close by where we sit. With the flashlights light out into the darkness. It turns out to be two striped jackals. Courtship and roaring lions. Enough for this night.
The next morning, we see lion tracks in the sand. All have slept soundly, no one has heard anything.
In the morning, we are fortunate to be invited on a tour by Helle and Per. We drive to an abandoned cattle farm. Here we gather wire and barbed wire along, of course, for the animals’ sake.
On the way back Per felt that there was something we just needed to see. He runs a little further up the river. Immediately as we approach we see 4 large giraffes in front of the car. Down on a sandbar, we see 3 adults and 2 young hippos. When we take pictures of them, two giraffes pass right past the front of us. Great pictures and experience.
Before it got dark, we drove all around in the area just to see it one last time.
We finished in the lookout tower where we enjoyed champagne and the beautiful sunset.
The last meal we ate in the boma. It was our cook’s birthday, so there was birthday songs and Irene sang solo, a beautiful African song that gave goosebumps and brought tears to his eyes.
The Rangers brought smiles and the laughter, when they told jokes.
A lovely end to a week to a week that went way too fast.
I got to tell Theo that I had been courting. He offered, the next morning, to take Dorrit and me up to the tower, so we only see the sun rise again. He is a bit of a romantic.
It was great to stand there with a cup of hot coffee, total silence and the sunrise. silence is perhaps as much said, the lions roared from three different directions. We will never forget you for that Theo. Then there was just the mournful farewell back.
Thanks to all the good people we’ve been with the last 8 days. You will all be a part of this unforgettable history.
I’m very happy that we chose Mpala.
Dorrit and Preben