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Published: November 1st 2010
We were up at 6am and on our way to Tala Game reserve by half past. We’d hired a car for the journey since Ellie’s exhaust is hanging off and she’s been driving on her spare tyre since August. We’d been advised that it would be best to get there early to see the most animals (as they’re more likely to be out in the morning), so at 7am we were looking for Hippos and watching monkeys run around and play in trees.
It wasn’t at all like the Safari Parks back home where you get a map pointing out where you’ll spot everything and all the land is unusually well kept. This was the real deal where you have to look out for everything and the suspense and excitement was immense. I’d taken a few tramadol to help me feel better from this horrible cold and sore throat I’ve got so I know they were probably helping me feel so enthusiastic. Ellie even decided to take a few and soon she was just as wired and happy as I was.
We didn’t see all of “The Big Five” (Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard) but it didn’t matter as it
was more about the real safari experience. I’ve seen the majority of those animals before anyway on my travels or in Zoos back home, but this was great to drive around their natural habitat which doesn’t feel controlled or fake.
We got a bit lost on the way to the Phezulu Cultural Village and ended up picking up a hitchhiker! The man we stopped to ask for directions asked if we’d mind giving him a lift a few miles up the road. We weren’t happy about it at all but felt we couldn’t really say no, and luckily he got out at his destination without any bother.
The Zulu dancing was really good. The stage was framed by a backdrop of wonderful views over the valley below us. They told the story along the way about how a man in a South African tribe would traditionally go about getting a wife. They have as many wives as they want in the tribes here and having lots of children is a sign of wealth. Traditionally the woman would give the man a necklace to say she accepts his marriage proposal, then the man goes to a fortune teller who
predicts how many children they have and he has to “buy” the woman from her family in exchange for a herd of cows. Amazing to think this all still goes on out there.
In the evening Ellie, Laura, Lee (Ross’s sister) and I went for dinner at the restaurant where Ellie works called Mo’s. Ellie obviously knows the menu very well so we trusted her to make the selection and she did us proud. The food was fantastic. One of their friends Rachel joined towards the end of our meal then we had one final drink in Bootie Bar. Unfortunately my illness had really kicked in and I couldn’t face a late night, but it had been a lovely night with great food and great company. No wonder El loves it here so much!
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