First, second and third time – and maybe a forth time 🙂 Every time has been gigantic experiences – each time in its own way, as described below.
Despite we from close friends had heard that Mpala was a very special place, we didn’t actually know what to expect – on the other hand we had great expectations! As we during landing in Hoedspruit Airport saw baboons and impalas running along the landing strip we realised that this first safari could become very exciting – we were not disappointed. Before we arrived to the gravel road leading to the lodge we had already seen giraffes, buffalos and Oliphants – the great joy was endless. During that week we saw a lot more than we could ever dream of – not only at the trip in Kruger Park, but also from our extremely cosy Chalet or from the pool lounger. 🙂
The welcoming committee was the whole Mpala family. They greeted us at arrival and from that moment we felt the special atmosphere at the lodge. Seen from our perspective, the factor that makes a week at Mpala so fantastic are all the people at the lodge. Words such as dedicated, caring, nice, family like – but at the same time discrete, is very describing for everybody at the lodge. Mix all of this with true love and passion for the great nature and you will have a fantastic stay with these people at the lodge. The Mpala saying: “You come as a guest and leave as a friend” is spot on!
By the way this week was elonged with a week at Zanzibar – super place with the most delicate beaches we have ever seen! Highly recommendable mix!
Our second stay lasted 2 weeks – we had the pleasure of two different rangers. Two unique weeks and nevertheless so very different – For us it is not about seing the most animals. It is also getting the good stories, funny stories, small animals, funny animals. facts and anecdotes. We have no doubt that the rangers at Mpala are special hand picked – not to be identical, but their enthusiasm and love for nature is completely unique. No matter if it is about a small mountain of elephant dung habitated with bugs, an army of Matabela ants, the size of an ostrich’ brain, small or large birds as “Curry Monster” or how complex a lion family actually can be – All the details are told in an interesting and from time to time even a funny way. Everything gets more interesting due to the rangers dedication. At this stay we altered the motto to: “We came as friends and left with much more”.
Third visit confirmed everyting just described. The employees of the lodge changes naturally as times go by. But the “Mpala Family” spirit is living on in exactly the same way as before. The big hug we received on arrival from the well known wonderful friends put a big line under the motto “We came as friends and…”
Also this time we had fantastic game drives, Kruger trip with lion activity and thrilling animal experiences right ouside the lodge. For a long time before our stay it had not rained. The draft and lack of food had killed a lot of animals. The many dead animals was unpleasant to see, but this actually shows that Mpala/Kruger is not a zoo and the stronges survives. The gallow humor was very much alive. Gaby – a fellow guest – invented a new alternative to “the big 5” and “the small 5” – it was “the dead 5”!
We spent many good hours with other lovely safari guests on the drives, at the pool and at the many delicious meals at the lodge or at the worlds best restaurant – outside in the bush camp.
During this week we had the pleasure of experiencing a very professional and entusiastic photographer. He had arrived to make movies and take photos for marketing use. Very intertaining to watch this action with Per Grunert as instructor. The result is great as you can see on this web page.
The last evening’s farewell dinner in the cosy Boma together with all the employees is allways an experience and howling funny. These people can really tell anecdotes, African jokes and stories so the tears roll.
To be close to the wild life and nature has been a very different and exciting experience for us if we compaire it to our life back home in Denmark. Here our most dangerous animal is a tick – and the closest approach with dangerous animals is on the TV screen.
We have seen so much during all the weeks – Big 5, if a leopard in the darkness counts? We are still short of a cheetah – but hundreds of fancy birds, large heards of buffalos, wilder beests and Oliphants. Lions very close up, lots of girafs, rhinos, hippos, hyenas and a lots more. The greatest experience must without doubt be the last game drive in Mpala’s back yard: heards of zebras, elephants, girafs, bufalos, wilder beests, impalas, wartogs and baboons was at the same spot at the same time – wildly impressing and an experience we will never forget.
Mpala Lodge is a luxury lodge – without toxidos, extraordinary tendenses, goldcovered water taps, or anonymous employees. The lodge design is really top of the pop. A cozy and relaxed down to earth atmosphere. This atmosphere is created by the employees and along with the kitchen staff’s skills to create one delicious meal after the other using local food and recipies. This is the perfect cocktail. It is up to you if you want the privacy in your own chalet and enjoy the view over Olifants River or watch the “Bush-TV” joining other guests on the terrace at the Main House. Everything is done best with a glass of chilly white wine or icy G&T. Same TV programme is shown in the pool area!
To watch wildlife in this atmosphere is one of the many reasons we return again and again. Total relacing and no stress with fantastic people in a fantastic nature.
Lots of regards “and big hugs” from Else and Flemming
Translation from the original danish version by Helle Scheel Grunert