As long as I remember I have had a dream of going to Africa, maybe right since I read Kiplings story about “the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River”. I wished for experiencing the animals in their natural enviroment. Those animals I often visit in the zoo’s wherever I travel around the World. Suddenly in March 2017 I got the opportunity to join on a travel as the travelmate/translater for Mie and her mum.
Mie has a handicap and she loves elephants.
Prior to the trip we discussed about the chances to see any animals in the vast country we were going to visit. If you want to be sure to see animals you must visit a zoo. So it was with great excitement we went off on our African journey.
But come on!
From the main road we entered a big gate to the nature reserve and the experiences speeded up. During the half hour it took driving from the gate along winding, hilly, bumby, red roads to the lodge I dare say our expectations
were fullfilled. Impalas, giraffes, zebras, elephants and a kudu. We spotted them all before we arrived to the lodge. At the parking area we were met with a very warm welcome by Stacey, Irene, Ryno and the whole lot of staff
and a couple of dogs. Already now at this very first day the thought stroke me that we have had all the experiences that we had wished for and that we could already return to Denmark happily !
NO, of course we stayed. But in that moment we really didn’t know what was waiting for us during the following week full of experiences for all our senses.

 

At the terrasse we were again met by a warm welcome, a chilled drink and fresh fruit. Quietly we just stod and absorbed everything. The house behind us, the river with drinking elephants on the oposite side, the smells, the people and the sounds. The sounds were sudenly mixed with drums and singing approaching. Here they were – a gorup of fantastic beautiful and colourfull people intertaining us with their traditional dances and songs. We all enjoyed it a lot.
We were led to our home for the next week – and what a home – delicious all the way through! I will have no problems of felling home here. Et the dinner we got a safety instrution for the lodge. common sence is always good, but we are “away” here, so we are all ears and have a lot of questions. I have no doubts they will take great care of us here. We all got the programme of the week – we will not come asleep to the experiences. Tomorrow we start at 5 am!
As I now think back, what I often do, it is difficult to highlight a climax because we had som many starstruck moments. Talking about stars, we had at our 2 days in Kruger National Park a great clear night. Our ranger Rhyno showed us the names of the stars and star constellations on his I-pad with the use of an app: StarWalk. This app I have great use of here at home.

 

The most fantastic starry night I had in the bush camp. Efter a fun ride on quadbikes – we certainly didn’t break the speed record – we were really in need of being freshened up – in the midle of nowhere we found both a washbasin and a toilet! Fantastic!

 

At first we enjoyed a couple of Gin/Tonics to controll the malaia mosqutos – hmm yes yes. Then followed a wonderfull dinner of a baberqued a “small” huble Beef, approximately at the size of a section of a cow. Later seated in the safari chairs we held fireflies in our hollow hands. In this warm evening filled with sounds and scents myriads of stars appeared. I have never seen so many. The Milky Way was so clear and visible so you could almost tuch it! On the way home we met a rhino. How lucky can you be?

 

More about the stars – the really stars here are the animals – counting from the tinys to the gigants. From the small “fallen” baby bird gently returned to the nest – passing the tortoise liftet out of a water basin. I guess it was tired of paddling – to the elephant who pushed down the fence towards our camp to pay us a – I guess – not so welcoming visit – naughty boy! Mostly it was us visiting the animals. From the early morning walks seing the sun rise, colouring mountains and plains red and all the dayactive animals started to move, to the trips on the plains – a paradise for me – lots of different animal species feeding peacefully side by side – except for a couple of buffalos who muddled around so the oxpeckers felt their ground swinging, while the big buffalo bull from the top of a hill looked over his kingdom.

 

The fantastic 2 days trip in Kruger Park was packed with experiences and our heads were moving as mounted on ball bearings so we wouldn’t miss anything. Just as the incident with the man we meet in the midle of the park on the bicycle  – some just live their life dagerously – I mean – without a bike helmet!
During lunch time as the beefs fry on the barbeque, the table is set and we talk about animal’s camouflage. Knowing a lion could hide in the bushes right behind us suddenly a loud ruckus is heard! We all jump frightened up – a lion? No just a box of food tumbling down. Phew! Big laughs! Kruger just MUST be experienced.

 

On the way back we got the infuriating message that the booked hot air ballon flight next day was canselled due to “wrong” wind. Well, what to do instead? I had seen a picture on a wastebin of a hippo and a flash of memory of a TV-programe I saw about Jessica – the tame hippo! They called and booked us. Next morning we headed for the home of Jessica. It was quite an experience to bottlefeed it with a bottle of sweet tea (tasted well), sweet potatos and a kis! A bit personally cross-border to be so close to the animal that as I know causes most human deaths along the rivers in this area. I hope no-one is around when nature beats over domistication!

 

Don’t think I have forgotten the lodge. As the first impression of being treatet as VIP has leveled I felt at home everywhere. I loved my terrasse where I spent som time watching the river with crocks, hippos and the elephants on the opposite side. But one evening as I sat there thinking of the days experiences suddenly heard a lions roar. Very quicly I decided NOW is a fine moment to withdraw to my room. Forgotten is certaily not all the lovely people I got the pleasure to meet. Generous and helpfull, competent, ready to fullfill all my wishes and needs, answering all my more or less intelligent questions and always in a super great mood! In the kitchenarea they were always in the process of prepairing all kinds delights served an eaten on the terrasse, in the boma, in the bush camp, and on the trip to Kruger. There were a lot of it and nothing tasted of nothing. We even tasted “pap” the local mais porride withs is lokal peoles stach – food. The kids in kindergarden were munchin it with great pleasure in the shadow under the stretched sun protecting sails. But it all comes to an end. Even thou I was full – yes, my stomac was – the adventure ended champagne coloured and accompanied by a beautiful sunset with the view over the area. The goodbye next morning was staged with hugs and tearfull eyes.

 

But the dream of Afirca is still alive – the dream of coming back!

 

Lots of warm regards from Jane Mikkelsen

 

PS. Mie met really a lot of elephants, steped in a elephant footprint and received a toy elephant from our ranger Rhyno

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Helle Scheel Grunert