African Safari Field Notes – Day One

African Safari Field Notes – Day one, time unknown. We joined our fellow expedition members and guide. There are seven of us in total. Weather looks hot, water supply low. Emotions are running high, all feeling mixtures of slight excitement and trepidation. What will this journey hold? Are any of us really prepared…?

Wednesday March 29th –

(Due to the amount seen and done on the following days, I will be uploading one days adventures at a time, instead of the regular two days worth πŸ˜‰)

We awoke after a springy mattress sleep and got everything packed up and sorted out to head to ‘Ivory Tree Game Lodge’ for the safari part of our trip.

Before we left, we made mention of the pools lack of cleanliness and the owners irritated response was, ‘ Yeah well THIS IS AFRICA, it’s dirty!’.
To which I replied, ‘If that’s the case, how is your pool (which we could see through the separating gate) crystal clear?’.
She then didn’t say anything and went on to talk about a different topic πŸ™ˆ

We really didn’t want to be mean or rude… that’s never the point.
She was a nice enough lady and we did choose the spot but in a sense I feel like they should also know the customers opinion if they plan on running a guest house?

Breakfast was eaten at ‘Tasha’s’ and we went for unusual choices.

A middle eastern chicken and rice salad for me and lettuce burgers for Mike.

I also got a juice, since my newfound love for them needed quenching and Mike got a coffee milkshake, something else we’ve had a lot of.

My chicken salad was cold (I was expecting warm because of the rice part I guess?) and very refreshing.
A mixture of rice, chopped olives, cucumber and tomato was eaten with pepper grilled chicken and a side of very light, lemon pomegranate yogurt dressing.
It was very different but also very good and though I was full afterwords, it wasn’t that ‘weigh you down, food coma’ kind of full.

We’ve actually eaten some of the healthiest meals during this trip.
Many more restaurants (at least the ones we’ve chosen) have a large variety of healthy meal options.
Whether its fruit, yoghurt, nuts or grains, the choses are plenty and seen much more often than anywhere else we’ve been.

They do leave a person feeling better after eating and the flavours have been lovely.
Lots of lemony pesto too, which I’ve enjoyed.
But… away from food for a bit and on to the rest of the day πŸ˜‹

It took around three hours of driving to get us to the game lodge.
Mostly interrupted, minor a little road side issue and seeing a man holding a little bitty chameleon for sale in the middle of the road?
Actually very cute… but my opinion of them may be marred by ‘Tangled’ 😜
The rest of the time was filled with sleep for me and one gas station stop for snacks since the lodge was going to be fairly isolated.

We arrived around 2:00 pm and were greeted by two gentlemen who took our luggage (straight to our cabin), glasses of fresh cranberry juice were handed to us and the sounds of a waterfall gently flowed in the background.
We were seated for lunch right away and our three course menu was looked over.

Mike started with calamari which turned out to be the wrong choice😬
It was pink and raw ish looking, not the hoped for fried 😜

My fried cheese and salad was much more manageable and we both had rack of lamb for our main, finishing with a blueberry cheesecake.

We could hear the table beside us, asking us each other about the young couple and how they could be there and wondering what they did for work πŸ˜‚πŸ™ˆ

All in all it was a tasty meal and then we got to check out our room.
The rooms being single cabins with board walks leading to them.

We relaxed there for a while before going back to the main area and meeting the four other people who would be in the safari jeep with us and our guide, Chris Bates.

Come 4:30 pm, we headed out on the first drive.
Michiel had been to the same lodge a few years back, so he kind of knew what to expect, where as I had no idea what we could/would encounter really.

A few minutes into it, a small herd of elephants was seen grazing right along the road.
A 2-3 year old male stayed near to us, showing off slightly in his bravery and ear flappingπŸ˜‹

A little further and I spotted a giraffe, (‘spotted’… Mom pointed out the pun when I was texting her about it that evening 😏) not the most difficult to see for sure, but maybe the rhino I seen moments later in the tall camouflaging grass made up for it😎

Seated high in the back of the jeep we drove on at a medium pace, everyone scanning the landscape hoping to see some movement.
Another guide radioed about seeing a brown hyena, so we too headed that way and just after catching a glimpse of him going down a trail, some kudu crossed the road in front of us.

All the while Chris was giving us information about the animals we were seeing and hearing and the different trees and plant life.

A herd of impala was scattered across the road and on both sides of us.

The small, delicate looking animals where in the same spot come each safari.

Warthogs were then seen and of course, ‘The Lion King’ soundtrack then played through my head off and on throughout the rest of the evenings drive 😏

We were then lucky enough to see another rhino!

It crossed the road in front of us and then a baby was seen in the bush along side it.
The vehicle almost always got turned off when we were near animals and that time, the thorns could be heard scraping along the baby’s hide.
Sounding similar to finger nails on a zipper… it’s amazing to think a thorn, EASILY seen from a couple of meters away, simple brushes along on their skin 😳
Our guide joked that if we were caught on any thorns it would be easier to leave us and point us in the direction of the camp 😏

A break was taken at a little parking/lookout area.
We were served our drinks of choice and then had a few minutes to check out the view of the lake.
Some bright, orange and black birds flew about, popping in and out of the nests they were weaving together.

The one put on a fairly big show when Mike and I came close, puffing up grandly and singing loudly, trying to distract us from the nest.

Back into the jeep we went.
The cool of evening setting in but the wind didn’t affect us too badly, since we were wrapped up in the colourful wool blankets that were supplied for us.
As the sunlight disappeared, so did most of our spotting opportunities.
The jeep lights and a small spotlight were what we had going for us, and in 60,000 some hectors of South Africa, that’s not muchπŸ˜‰
Many giraffes were seen, their lighter colored heads being the easiest to spot in the dim light.
Then suddenly, the plan changed from going back to the lodge, to finding a lion!
One of the other guides had called in a spotting so our guide asked if we should attempt to see it as well, to which we all obviously said yes😏

After some detours and a larger drop in the temperature, the spotlight caught the shadowy figure of a large cat walking down the path toward us.
Immediately excited, semi hushed oohs and aahs filled the jeep and our guide turned the spotlight from white, to a red which also added to the drama of the situation.

The other jeep added their red lights and after both of us parked in a safe place, they turned off the jeeps and the sounds of nature mixed with a tangible hush as we were told to stay still and silent as the big cat walked right beside us and even the dirt could be heard crunching beneath his giant padded paws.

Within a few moments he walked into the tall grass, to be seen no more and we all drove back to the game lodge, thrilled with the first safaris outcome.

A welcome back with fruit punch awaited us in the lobby and we happily sipped them while walking to our room to freshen up pre dinner.

Upon opening our door, we found the covers on our bed had been turned back, the side table lamps turned on, chocolates placed upon our pillows, patio curtains closed and the bug net pulled around our bed.

It was then, observing the recently freshened room with the punch in my hand, that I thought ‘yes, I could get try getting used to this’ πŸ™ˆ

We returned to the main area pretty quickly as we were to join our guide and other safari guests for dinner.

Never in my life have I been faced with so many cutlery options πŸ™ˆ
I side glanced at Mike so many times throughout the meal, questioning which fork/knife was appropriate 😜

We started with a butternut soup, followed by duck for me and kudu for Mike.
Finishing with malva pudding, a traditional African dessert.
All aspects of the meal were very tasty and much enjoyed 😊

Conversation was shared among everyone and it was clear we were the youngest 😜

Everyone else was talking about how their kids had finally moved out etc.

Many talked about their life travels though and Mike and I could most of the time, comment about the place as well, having done much of the same traveling as they.

Eventually we all parted ways and headed off to bed, having to be back in the main area by 4:00 am the next morning 😬

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