Published: February 12th 2011February 12th 2011
I left Zambia in the morning and headed to Johannesburg. I headed to this huge B&B about 15 minutes from the airport. Turns out I am the only guest. My host for the night was a 22 year old, Francois. He was my new BFF for the night. I spent half the day on the internet uploading videos and pictures while we gossiped like 2 teenage girls. I ordered in dinner and ate in front of the TV while watching Grey’s Anatomy from 2 seasons back. I felt as if I was in my apt in NYC.
I woke up bright and early to head back to the airport. I flew to the east gate entrance of Kruger National Park (about a 50 minute flight). After much research, I chose to stay at a private game reserve. To be honest, I thought it was in Kruger; however it was not actually in the park. I learned that the private game reserves have their own property and therefore only their rangers can drive over the land.
During most of my travels in Southern Africa, almost everywhere I stayed was empty! The place I chose was PACKED. It is called Kapama.
Once we left the tiny airport, it was all of a 15 minute drive to the lodge. For some reason I thought it was an hour or two drive. For the first time in all of my traveling, my research was a tad off!
Kapama River Lodge is a beautiful place to stay. My room was huge – I had a separate bathtub where I was able to take baths overlooking nature. The lodge has a lovely spa. Kapama has 4 different places of where you can stay – they are miles and miles apart from one another. Once you arrive, you are assigned a ranger/tracker and a waiter. It is like a cruise ship – same staff to take care of you the entire time you are there. Also, the same guests you are with the entire time you are there – same vehicle and same dinner table.
The schedule is as follows:
5am Wake Up Call
5:30am Morning Tea
6-9am Morning Drive
4pm High Tea
4:30-7:30 Evening Drive
During the day I spent most of my time at the beautiful spa.
Here there is a pool and beds overlooking some of the park. Animals would stroll by here and there. It was lovely! I treated myself and had some wonderful spa treatments.
The funny thing is that I was with 4 couples on their honeymoon (2 couples from Brazil, 1 couple from Germany and a couple from Cape Town, SA). One of the reasons I chose this lodge is because it was bigger than the others. I thought I would be less likely to be surrounded by honeymooners. Whoops again on my guess. Either way, these couples were lovely. All of them took me under their wings and made great conversation. I ended up having an amazing time with these people.
I was lucky and I met Harry. Harry is a gorgeous thirty year old from northern Italy. His English was near perfect and we kept each other company. He was there 2 of the 3 nights I stayed at the lodge. It turns out Harry works at a castle near Lake Garda. Lake Garda was one of my favorite places in the world. I looked at real estate while I was there and I thought I would buy
a row boat and simply fish all day…
Anyhow, I did proper game drives. The goal for everyone is to see the Big Five (elephants, rhino, lions, buffalo, and leopard). I had only seen elephants and lions before arriving here, so I was much looking forward to seeing the others. Day 1 was an exciting day. We found some lions that were in the process of hunting. We followed them for a bit. They finally spot some giraffe. The lions huddled (I assume they are strategizing) and they all separate and take position. Within seconds the lions lodge at the giraffe. In this case the giraffe started to run for his life (literally) and made its escape. The lions simply meet up and perhaps discuss what went wrong? They start their search again… This was an exciting few minutes. My thoughts were – how do we warn the giraffe!
Day 2 was super exciting. I got to see my first buffalo and rhino. These animals are HUGE! It turns out the buffalo are the most dangerous of the animals. Some of them have the sweetest faces I have ever seen and others just look scary! The rhino are
White Rhinos – they don’t have Black Rhinos here. The only thing I hadn’t seen yet was the leopard.
Of course Harry saw the leopard on day 1, so he couldn’t stop rubbing it in… He had a small group – him and 2 older couples. I was so tempted to join his group for a drive, but I didn’t want to upset my ranger, named Freedom. My tracker was Cliff – a goofy 20 something. I had faith we would find the leopard!
Day 3 came around and 3 of the couples left earlier in the day. It was me and the couple from Cape Town. They chose not to do the game drive, so it was just me! It was slightly embarrassing as everyone starred at me. I embraced it. Within the 1st 20 minutes, we found a mother leopard and her 5ish month old son. It was extraordinary! It was me and the leopard for a good 5 minutes until Freedom radioed the others to give his position. I had another 5 minutes before anyone showed up. It was incredible watching them interact, drink from a small watering hole and wag their tales as they
started to walk away. AMAZING!
My last morning was spent at the pool soaking in some sun. Back to Johannesburg for one more night before my flight back home to NYC.