Our first trip to the Mpala Lodge was in november /december 2012. The trip we had found through the FDM. We had never been in Africa before, so the expectations were great, although we tried to hold back.
After the long flight, we arrived at Phalaborwa. Here we were picked up by Jessica, one of the lodge’s rangers. She gave us some information, and made sure that we arrived safely at the lodge. Here waited the whole staff waited, amongst other, the on-site manager Estelle, to greet us. Already here we felt in good hands, as all were very friendly and straight to the. There were an additional 10 other guests during our stay.
To get to know one another a bit better there were socializing on the terrace before dinner. At Mpala, everyone eats together and at the same time. It was one of many things, which we thought was really nice. It was, to bring the guests closer together and gave us a feeling of family, as we had not experienced on some of our other travels around the world.
Some of the things that made the stay special, was estelles positive engagement and happiness. There was nothing she would not do for the guests. The same can be said about our two rangers, Jessica and Clayton. The questions they couldn’t answer, was not worth knowing. They both had a very great knowledge of the animals and the plants. This knowledge they managed to convey in a way so everyone could understand it. They were both very keen that we got some great experiences.
The level of service at Mpala is absolutely top notch. The whole staff team is doing everything that the guests have a good experience.
The program of our holiday included a great many things. From pancakes in the Grasshop to the rhinos in the Kruger national Park. Although the program was the same in both weeks, it was certainly not boring, to be at Mpala.
Here, we have chosen to describe the end part of the experiences we had on our stay.
African tribal dance
Late in the afternoon on day 1, some of the residents from the local tribe arrived. They danced and played for us. It was very beautiful and different than we are accustomed to. The group consisted of both children and adults. We could see that some of the children were a little shy.
Gamedrive og bushwalk
We have been with Clayton on the bushwalk, where he has told about the area’s animals, for en example, a small red animal, which you could chew. The effect was a numbness. It was good, if you had a toothache. When he finished showing us the small animals, it was very gently put on the ground again.
We also heard about many of the plants, what the locals could use them for and what you must watch out for, because of the thorns.
Jessica had us on a game drive, where she told about some other plants. We were introduced to a species of cactus, which was very toxic and a species of spiders, which is called a community spider.
The special thing about these spiders is that they live in flocks of up to 50 spiders.
Their webs are often over 2 X 2 metres.
On the bushwalk, and the game drive we were on, we saw amongst other things, giraffes, buffalo, elephants, lots of impala and a couple of lion brothers.
Tuesday afternoon our spirit of adventure and inner childhood was put to the test. We had to go out and drive the quadbikes. However, you could choose to stay in the car, if you don’t want to drive in the bush on an ATV. The ride went through the beautiful countryside, where we stopped at some beautiful viewpoints.
In addition to the beautiful nature, we saw giraffes and impalas.
After the ATV tour, we were driven to Mpalas Bush Camp, where we were having dinner. The Bush camp is a chapter on its own. Upon arrival the bar was open and the table set. The grill was lit.
The Bush camp is special because it has both a toilet, basin and shower in the middle of the bush. Make use of the restroom, while you look out over the bush. While the meat is being cooked on the grill, today’s experiences is discussed over a drink or soda.
What makes the experience so unique is the stars in the sky, all the sounds and scents of the bush, as well as the good company.
This good day and the evening ends with a night drive on the way home to the lodge.
The village school
Mpala Safari Lodge is the sponsor of a local school, which we visited. Even if the plight was small, the children were happy. Several of the classes sang for us. We got a tour of the school, where we saw their little shop. Here you can choose to buy some of the things they have made.
You can also choose to give money to a school uniform through the Mpala Safari Lodge.
On the way back to the lodge, we were in a reptile park with many reptiles and snakes. They had a very rare South African spider.
We went on a two-day safari in the Kruger national Park, where we drove around to see the wild animals. Here the rangers experience and knowledge comes to their right. All keeping a careful lookout so the group will set the highest possible number of animals. Since you are visiting in the animal world, they have priority, when a herd of elephants crosses the road, you wait.
On the journey through the Kruger park you stop in special areas, where it is possible to get out of the car. It is also in these picnic areas; the rangers make breakfast/ brunch and lunch to the guests. In the evening, you will be accommodated in camps. In these camps, there is socializing, while the grill is lit and the rangers cook once more.
Kruger is fantastic, so even if you are there for two days, it’s never boring. For who knows what happens in the next second.
Even though there is no guaranteed to see some animals, we saw a rich bird life, jackals, wildebeest, warthogs, elephants, giraffes, baboons, kudus, zebras, buffalo, hippos, rhinos, turtles, crocodiles, hyenas, antelopes, snakes, lions, leopards and cheetahs.
We felt very lucky and overwhelmed that we saw so many different animals.
The Watch Tower
A few hundred metres from the lodge, they have a watch tower. Here the safari ends in the best Karen Blixen style, namely with the champagne. For as she said; “a safari without champagne is just a common experience”. From the great views of the area and the Olifants River. When you are there, you can experience a fantastic sunset with the most beautiful colors.
In addition to the fixed programme, there is the option of purchasing additional excursions. We chose a river cruise on the Olifants River and a visit to the Draken mountains.
River cruise Olifants River
Aboard the boat we got a nice breakfast while we sailed quietly away. On the tour the Hippos played games with us. When we saw them from a distance, they were up, so they could be seen. But when we reached them they submerged, only get up again, when the boat had sailed by. We sailed past a nice big crocodile. It was luckily on land.
On and along the river there are many birds. Some we had seen, while others were completely new to us.
On the way back to the lodge, we went by the mining site near Phalaborwa. The copper mine is one of the world’s largest. It is a big hole in the ground, not a treasure in the landscape. At the same time, it is also a very fascinating engineering. In connection to the mine there is a vantage point, where you have an overview of the area.
The Draken mountains
After a drive, we came to the first stop on the tour. A vantage point over the Draken mountains and its canyons. An incredibly beautiful spectacle that is hard to describe with words. It must be experienced.
The ride continued in the mountains, where we saw several waterfalls, one more beautiful than the other.
Now we were see God’s Window. This was a lookout point in a small subtropical rainforest. God had sadly shaken his pillow, so the view was quite misty. We were, therefore, agreed that it had to be the pillow that we had seen, and not the window.
Lunch was consumed in Grasshop, a small town, where we saw the south african monsoon. We had been inside a shop and heading to the restaurant, Harrie’s, as the skies opened with great force. Although we just had to cross the road, we were very wet. After max 10 min, the sun shone once again from a cloudless sky..
The lunch consisted of pancakes with fillings of your desire. Some also had the appetite for a dessert pancake.
On the way home we would also just visit a stalactite cave. It was really nice.
By all the waterfalls and lookouts, there are stalls where it is possible to buy souvenirs. Here you can buy wooden things and fabrics.
We would not have been without this trip, since there were so many beautiful experiences.
We had a fantastic trip to Mpala, we very much hope to revisit the site and not least the amazing staff.
Jan og Jeannette Lindstrøm