Day One - 15/09-2007
Finally... on our way to Marc's Treehouse Lodge for our six-day safari with Viva Safaris!
We were taken there in a mini-bus, together with four other people – an Irish couple, an Australian, and a Pakistani. We drove past several insteresting little places, but our first actual stop was for lunch, in a city called Dullstroom, at a restaurant called The Flying Dutchman. Boyfriend of feitpingvin and I ordered the pan-fried trout, along with some mango juice as a sort of "starter" and some white wine to go with the fish. This particular area (Highlands Meander) is a touristy area focusing on trout fishing. And the trout was... mmmmmdelicious!
When we finally arrived, we were first greeted at Viva Safari's more "upscale" lodge. It had electric fences to keep the animals out. I guess some people prefer that. Anyway, we were given some guava juice, and then we all hopped into an open jeep for a night game drive in a private game reserve.
The first thing we saw was a dead giraffe, killed by lions. But we didn't see any lions around. We did see some giraffes (living ones), various antelope, a big porcupine, a hyena, and a rabbit. After the game drive, we were taken to the treehouses where we were going to spend the next five nights.
Now, the treehouses were the reason why we chose Viva Safaris in the first place. We wanted a close-to-nature experience and hey, we got it. In the treehouses, you could hear the river and all the animals, day and night – frogs, birds, vervet monkeys jumping on the roof, the mooing of African buffalo. You also ran the risk of frogs in your bathroom and lizards on your walls. One couple had bats in their treehouse. Another left the door open, only to return to a treehouse invaded by vervet monkeys. The monkeys took this poor guy's anti-diarrhea pils and ate them. And the whole camp was crawling with nyala. They were everywhere. You literally get up early in the morning, sit on your treehouse balcony, and watch the nyalas...
We loved it! It was the next best thing to sleeping in a tent. Who needs a posh luxury lodge... this is luxury! Animals, birds, fresh air... who could ask for anything more?
After dumping our luggage into the treehouse, we had dinner. We were really hungry by then, and the meal was very welcome. We started with a nice carrot soup, followed by a lovely potjiekos (meat stew) with rice and salad. This was washed down with red wine purchased at the cash bar. Yum yum...
Everyone staying at Marc's ate dinner together. Not everyone started their safaris together, nor was everyone doing the six-day safari, so it was interesting to talk to people from all over the world about what they've experienced, to get/give tips (mine was "take advantage of all toilet breaks" and "sit close to the food buffet table"), to discuss things in general. I really enjoyed the social part just as much as the animals and nature. I've promised several people to e-mail them the address to this blog. Hopefully they're reading ;-)
Day Two - 16/09-2997
After a nice breakfast of fruit salad and eggs and bacon, we were off on an all-day game drive in Kruger (Orpen Gate).
We saw: giraffes, elephants, zebra, wildebeest/gnu, impala, kudu, waterbuck, warthogs, one almost-submerged hippo, crocodiles, spotted hyenas (including a mother with her pup), ground hornbills, yellow-billed (flying bananas) and red-billed (flying chiles) hornbills, leopard tortoise, African fish eagle, steenbok, African buffalo, springbok, tons of birds... I'm sure I missed something...
Our guide, "King Charles," was really cool. He had lots of stories about how stupid and stubborn some tourists could be. For example, he had a group that insisted that warthogs were baby rhinos and that wildebeest were buffalo...
He also told us some interesting animal facts. Like how the kudu got its name. Kudus can jump two meters high from a standing position, and they're otherwise known to jump away from danger. They got the name kudu because of the sound they make when they land after a jump... *ku* *du*
It's a true story! Really!
It was really hot and sunny today. Except for at the end of the day; it suddenly got very windy and cloudy.
Tonight's dinner: vegetable soup, braai (chicken and woers) with pap and salad, and some dessert (I didn't eat that or dessert any other day for that matter), washed down with Windhoek. Very lovely.