Published: September 4th 2012August 10th 2012
Entabeni Rock and the Resident Wildebeest
We arrived just 2 to 3 hours before sunset. Enough time for our first safari drive.
It took 3 1/2 hours from Johannesburg to get here in Entabeni Private Game Reserve
in the Limpopo Province. Made it a couple of hours before sunset. That means we do our first safari drive today. And we were in luck to have Henri as our safari ranger. Fresh out of teens, on his first job, on his first guiding assignment.
We climbed the safari cruiser like we do it everyday. Must be the adrenaline. After all, this is our very first safari experience. So imagine a bunch of greenhorns in one cruiser, giddy with excitement on this high-octane adventure searching for the Big 5.
Our first rhino sighting was soon followed by more sightings of wildebeests, giraffe, impalas, warthogs. Young Henri tried to impress us with his expertise on dung. He would stop the safari cruiser every so often to pick up and show us a piece of rhino dung, impala dung, etc. As we were trying to beat sunset and are not keen about night safaris, we egged Henri to drop the dung story and to just drive on across the grassy plains for more sightings.
The colors of Africa!
Our very first rhino sighting! And within an hour, at that.
Bush Dinner at 9 Celsius? Hearty Breakfast before Another Safari!
Maybe even colder. Not even the drum session, camp fires, nor the wine could keep us warm enough. In this cold, it hardly mattered if some beast lurked in the dark behind us. Like it was hardly a concern that cold, wintry night when the stars blasted the African skies. Meats stewing in metal pots. Meats grilling in open fire. It was so dark we could hardly see what we were eating. But the aroma of good food wafted through the evening air and assured us of a good dinner. And our taste buds confirmed so. Our very first dinner in the bush. Right under the stars! Despite the cold, we slept well that night. Hot showers to rid off the dust, electric blankets to keep us warm through the night. The Ravineside Cottages of Entabeni with porches looking out to the vast savannah made us feel we're in the middle of wilderness but with all the comforts of modern living. Just make sure no smart baboons will come knocking on our doors!
Up early the next day. thermals
Rhino In Front of Us!
That's the rhino crossing our path and sidestepping our safari cruiser. That close. I felt like I held my breath for one hour before exhaling.
under my safari suit, a matching hat to boot, and a hearty appetite for breakfast at Entabeni's Serengeti Restaurant before the morning drive. Ordered my eggs, then filled my plate with fruits, ham, sausages and French toast. The coffee took awhile. I should be feeling grumpy before sipping my morning brew, but not today.
Missing 1 Out of the Big 5. Leopard No-Show.
We're not complaining. The morning and afternoon drives yielded more sightings. A 2-tonner rhino sidestepping our safari cruiser. Zebras in a huddle, unmindful of our intrusion. A herd of cape buffaloes staring us down. A lone ostrich. A pack of elands. More elegant giraffes twisting their necks to show off their droopy eyes with luscious lashes. Wildebeests. Warthogs. And more. Just when we were about to lose hope, we chanced upon a pride of lions feasting on what looked like their dinner of wildebeest. Either that or the "safari McDonalds" or Impala ( see those M butt marks?) Sssshhhh. My heart must have skipped a beat, and my hands couldn't seem to have a firm grip on my camera. It's like my fingers took a sabbatical for a lousy moment till
Tops the LOvely 5
If there is a Big 5, the giraffes should top the list of the Lovely 5. Look at that elegant neck. Those drooping eyes. The luscious lashes.
I snapped out of my mindless gape to take photos and videos.
Hard to tell how long we stayed there. It was dusk by the time we left, driving up through the lone narrow road by the mountain edge to reach the upper escarpment. At that point, I was beginning to miss my thermals and hoping we get back in time for our boma dinner.
A Minor Mishap That Almost Freaked Us Out.
On the drive up, young Henri radioed thrice. The narrow road is meant to be a one-way route going up or down. You have the ravine on one side, and the mountain on your right climbing up. Henri stepped on the brakes just as the safari cruiser was negotiating the steep incline. We had company. Another cruiser was driving down the same lone narrow road. Our motor sputtered and died. When Henri started the engine, the cruiser backed up against the side of the mountain. Better that than the ravine. A couple more attempts but the cruiser won't climb up and each time, uncontrollably backed up. Or down? Brakes not working at this angle? Henri
Ma, We're Out to Check the Lions
Drive from the Upper Escarpment to the Lower Escarpment where the lions and more safari animals are.
told us to get off the vehicle and walk some meters up ahead. It was still a long way up and God knows what beasts we'd meet on the climb up.
After what seemed like a year, our safari cruiser was good to go again. We climbed up and as soon as seated, heaved a collective sigh of relief. Like a chorus!
Henri thanked us for staying calm. (We weren't!) Maybe Henri was thankful we weren't a complaining bunch and that we "calmly listened" to him when it mattered. Only 22, this fellow is logging a truly memorable first guiding experience.
All's well that ends well. All limbs accounted for. Everyone in one piece. All good and ready for another boma dinner. Thank you, Henri!
Oh by the way, did I tell you about the earlier mishap where someone got locked in in an African toilet? If Robert Redford and Meryl Streep had "Out of Africa", this episode is aptly titled "Out of An African Toilet"
. And yes, that's another story. Lol.
There are more photos below