Lions and leopards and cheetahs...oh my!!


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April 20th 2011
Published: April 20th 2011
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Morokeni Vakwetu, (Good Day Friends-Rukwangali Language), Sunday, April 17/11 Blog#2

You will notice from the title of this blog that our Safari adventure was incredible. We arrived Mon. Apr. 11 after a seven hour drive North through South Africa from Johannesburg. The drive took us through many villages and cities with incredible scenery all around. We saw the diamond mines in the distance clustered amoungst 4 million year- old rocks and mountains. Upon arrival at the border to Botswana, we were met by the rangers from the Mashatu Game Reserve. We took cable cars across the river to the Toyota Land Cruisers awaiting us. After an hour’s bumpy but sunny drive we arrived at the Tent Camp and were orientated about the do’s and don’ts of living in this environment. The ‘tents’ were on platforms, very roomy and housed two people each with outdoor showers and bathrooms attached. The zippers must be kept closed at all times and belongings put away in drawers due to the fact that the monkeys love anything small and shiny will run away with all such items. We were then treated to afternoon tea and set out for our first 3 hour afternoon/evening game drive. Right away we saw bush bucks, elands, wildebeests, zebras and jackals. We stopped for ‘sundowners’ (drinks and popcorn) atop a hill right beside many giraffes who were grazing the tree tops. The sunset was magnificent as was the scenery. Then off we headed back to the camp in the dark. The spotter (ranger) shone a huge search light all around us and we spotted many eyes peering at us through the dark. Then we gorged ourselves on an amazing dinner in the outdoor gin bar, looking out on a meadow area which was alight. That’s when we saw a huge baboon crossing in front of us plus hares and jackals. The night sky was alight with the Milky Way, Orion’s Belt, the Rocking Horse, the Southern Cross and what seemed like a million other stars. Then off to bed by 11pm.
Tues-Fri.-Each morning we arose at 5am (stop laughing those of you who know my non-morning habits) and met for fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal, coffee and tea in the ‘lounge’ tent. Then we set off for our morning game drives in 3 open vehicles by 6am. The sunrises were a spectacular to witness as were the following sightings of: lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, eland, wildebeest, springbok, jackals, wild cats, mongoose, gennets (medium sized cat-like animals with raccoon-like striped long tails), tortoise, hares, giraffe, zebra, monkeys, baboons, ostrich, warthogs, numerous brilliantly colored birds, franqulens, and guinea hens. We would stop after 21/2 hrs to enjoy coffee, tea and rusks overlooking the incredible vista in front of us. Here we would spot huge convoys of elephants running and bellowing towards their morning watering. On various days we witnessed: a mother and son cheetah stalking their prey; a female lion and her three medium sized offspring lolling in the sunshine; a large male lion, 2 females and their small to medium sized babies making a ‘kill’ of warthogs; a leopard sneaking through the bush; huge fish eagles, storks, snakes, and brilliantly colored birds. Then back to camp to enjoy an amazing brunch of bacon, eggs, pancakes, French toast, cottage pie, lasagne, potatoes, fresh fruit, juices, salads, and so on. And all this completed by 10:30am…lol. The late mornings/early afternoons consisted of sitting in the ‘blind’ watching springbok cavorting and chasing each other around Pete’s Pond, leisurely naps (one of my favorite activities J), and/or swimming in the plunge pool. At 3:30pm we would meet in the lounge tent for an afternoon tea of sweet delicacies, scones, fruit salad, juices and alcoholic beverages. Then off for the evening game drive at 4pm. More sundowners (alcoholic bevies) atop high hills, snacks, to-die-for sunsets, and numerous animal sightings. Then the star-lit drive back to camp where once again we feasted on delicious dinners which variously consisted of roast beef, chicken, lamb, eland, oxtail, roast pork, soup, salad, vegetables, rice and potatoes, and lots of wine/beer/spirits/amarula/tea/coffee. My muffin top almost returned but so far, so good. Gerry is down 3 belt notches despite the copious meals. Don’t know how he does it!! Then finally off to bed by 11 pm in order to get up and do it all again!!! During the night we would hear leopards circling the camp. Thank heavens for the electric fences!!!! Since this is Fall here, the bugs have been almost non-existent…other than a bee sting which I received in Namibia and has lasted many days, no illness or discomforts have been experienced.
Our weather has been unbelievable, sun every day even though there has been rain in many other parts of the country around us, daytime temps in the high 20’s/low 30’s, night times enjoyably cooling to the mid to high teens-perfect for sleeping.
We are now in Camp’s Bay just outside of Cape Town with 8 of us, (my BFF Judy has joined us), staying in a beautiful villa. Table Mountain and the Apostles serve as the background and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean is spread out before us. There is a pool, lovely decks/patios, gardens, and a pond on the property. We are up on a high street so have an amazing view of the ocean. This week we will tour various spots: cable cars to the top of Table Mountain, the largest botanical garden in the country, a private wine tour, Cape Hope, Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned, the picturesque town strip with many bars and shops where various celebrities like to haunt and finally, a shark dive for
Gerry (yikes). :~ And who knows what other adventures await us.
I will write one more blog at the end week, then we’re home Sunday evening, April 24th. Pictures will follow…then you will see just how close to the animals (sometimes right in the thick of them) we actually were.
We hope all of our family and friends are doing well and prospering. We think of you often and wish you were with us to experience this trip of a lifetime!!!
Hugs and kisses,
Elizabeth/Beth/Gerry


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