There is something about being in the bush that grounds me, gives me a zest for life and reminds me of the beauty and awe of the world we live in.
Our trip started off with a swim and lying at the pool sipping on champagne. I was with two beautiful ladies who I am so lucky to call my friends. We were on a girl’s weekend and of course the best way to start a girl’s weekend is with some champagne by the pool.
The next day we took the golf carts around the golf course. Capturing the beautiful surroundings at every turn. This was a lot of fun, the lack of driving skills kept us in stitches most of the way and we laughed until our stomachs hurt. A handsome sable sat watching us and we stopped to take a picture. He sat there as if he was enjoying the attention and giving us a pose, making sure to show us the beautiful white markings on his face. The zebra on the golf course were not quite as accommodating, they thought us a threat and bolted as we can near, not surprising with the crazy driving going on.
We were given strict instructions to be at the golf course on the other side of the restaurant at 3:15pm sharp. All feeling the excitement of the surprise we were told we had coming our way, we were there extra early. When we got there, Sean, a manager at the resort told us that we would be going on a helicopter ride. With this news, we couldn’t contain ourselves and were jumping up and down and screaming like teenage girls. As the helicopter landed my skirt was blowing up but I was so excited and had to have a photo of the helicopter, I wasn’t bothered by my skirt at that point. We got onto the helicopter and the excitement was not in vain in any way. The helicopter ride was one for the bucket list, we were smiling for the rest of the day, we could not stop blabbering about it, it was the most incredible experience and we took in every second! We left there pumped with adrenaline and feeling absolutely blessed and spoilt. There are no words that do this experience justice at all, it was just WOW!
On Sunday evening, sitting on the Toyota game vehicle, right on the end, completely exposed to the big 5 which of course we had hoped to see, exposed but not at all scared and feeling safe. The excitement takes over, my face is lit up with a massive smile. The kind of smile that just takes over, it almost has a mind of its own.
The thing about game drives, as in life, is that you never really know what you are going to get. I find that taking in every animal and each and every scene, as if painted especially for me is what makes the experience. Of course, I have never seen a leopard in the wild and so I always hope to see one, when I eventually do, I know it will be every bit worth the wait.
As we got on our way we saw steenbok, these have not really featured much on my previous game drives. The excitement starts bubbling within with the very first sighting. Shortly after that the warthogs were spotted. My gorgeous friend, bless her, asks why Timon isn’t with Pumbaa, we giggle as we explain that they actually aren’t friends in the wild, like in ‘The Lion King’. We all grew up watching ‘The Lion King’, I remember the absolute excitement when it first came out, I must have watched it at least 15 times! In our hearts and minds as children obviously Timon and Pumbaa must be friends in the wild, but I know that they aren’t, having been blessed to go on a number of game drives before. This was her first drive and the innocence in her question was priceless.
We had barely stopped giggling over the Timon comment when we saw wildebeest (the clowns of the bush). I really like wildebeest, I have been lucky enough to catch them being silly and to capture first hand why they are called the clowns of the bush. They love to play and mess around. There were so many wildebeest, I have never seen so many at one place. They aren’t the most attractive of animals, they have a rather odd look to them but what they lack in looks, they make up in personality, that is for sure. This drive was the first time I had ever heard the noise the wildebeest makes, that was very special indeed.
Very close to the wildebeest, we spotted the zebra. Zebra and wildebeest are often together. The wildebeest doesn’t have the best eye sight so they rely on their buddies, the zebra to help them out there. In return, the wildebeest eat the top of the grass, leaving the part which the zebra want just for them. It is a great friendship and both parties benefit. The age-old argument always rears its head when zebra are spotted. Are they white with black stripes or black with white stripes? I am going to go with the black with white stripes but feel free to decide for yourself. The stripes not only camouflage the animal but they keep them cooler, as the black attracts the heat and the white reflects it.
We saw a few game ranger vehicles together so of course we had to go and investigate what all the fuss was about. As we got there we saw a young lioness, her majesty sat in the long grass, completely unintimidated by us. She was absolutely beautiful, and a little lazy. Imagine how thrilled we were when we got to the other side and spotted a massive male lion and a mother lioness with 3 cubs. The naughty cubs were hassling the mother and walked straight over their dad, as if he was there as a jungle gym for their personal entertainment. They are reminiscent of toddlers, and full of beans. This sighting was very special, because although I have seen plenty of lions, I have never actually seen them in the wild. I was ecstatic!
As we drove we saw a mommy rhino with her calf. I have seen plenty rhino in the wild but what made this so special is that they were half a meter away from us. It made me really sad to watch them completely relaxed and almost trusting of us. To think that they get poached when they are so trusting, it really makes me angry and sad. These beautiful animals have as much right to the earth as we do, so poachers, get a life!
Driving slowing, we saw a lonely, lazy crocodile. She just lay there on the sand. We could see some feathers in her mouth so she had just had a snack. Her story, too made me sad. She is alone, she doesn’t have a mate or a friend. She lays her eggs and protects them, waiting for them to hatch but they never will. I expressed my dismay to the game ranger, stating that I thought she needed a mate and that it was an absolute tragedy that she was waiting for lifeless eggs to hatch. I hope she gets a mate soon, I am sure he will be the perfect prince since she has waited so long.
The hippos were next, though they chose to be shy and only stuck their heads out here and there. Hippos have very sensitive skin so in the heat of the day, they spend most of their time in the water where their skin is protected. They normally come out to eat grass and reeds at night. They were approaching the edge when we were on our way back, we could see 4 of them. Hippos look so sweet but don’t take them on, because these friendly looking fellows kill the most humans in Africa of all the animals.
Then we took a drive up a slope in search of elephant, which we had heard were up that way. A family of giraffe caught our eye first. There was even a baby giraffe. One baby and 3 adults. I think giraffe are so beautiful, they can reach all the way to the top of the trees with their long necks. Did you know that they collect the leaves and keep them in their mouth and eat while walking afterwards?
The sun was starting to set by now, and I might be bias but I think the South African sun sets are the most beautiful in the world. They are even better out in the bush. Blue, pink, purple and orange fill the sky and I am reminded of the absolute beauty of the world. I am also reminded how small I am in the scheme of things. But in my own way I too am beautiful.
As we were heading for our drink spot we saw kudu males, 4 of them. Kudu is one of my favourite buck, I love the males, they are so majestic. The females are a boring, poor girl. The only time I didn’t like a kudu was in jock of the bush felt, I cried and cried when the kudu kicked Jock and he permanently lost his hearing. And of course, the tragic ending followed. I have to say, despite crying my eyes out, I watched it a few times. It captured the South African bush which I loved and the story was very sweet.
Time to stop for a drink and we are thirsty. I gulped down the entire bottle of water. The we stood in the middle of the game farm chatting here and there and just admiring the beauty around us. The talking was actually kept to a minimum as we stood taking everything in. This is a very rare occurrence, us girls hardly keep talking to the minimum but this was absolutely breathtaking. I truly count myself lucky to have access to the bush as often as I do.
As our weekend came to an end, we were filled with joy, happiness and gratitude. We had gone there expecting an incredible weekend but it exceeded all of our expectations.
There is something about the South African bush that brings me to the perfect place within me, I am at peace, filled with happiness and a complete calmness. There is something about the South African bush that gives me a zest for life, that I thought I had lost. It gives me hope for the future, love for our country and an absolute appreciation and honor for God, our father and creator.
Rejuvenated and ready to live, love and learn. Let me not take one day for granted because each day that I wake up is a gift to me, not to waste but to enjoy and live to the fullest.