A 50th Birthday

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Happy 50th Darling! This was taken at the airport on our way to this amazing holiday!

The day of Rod’s 50th had arrived & we’d already had such a wonderful few days. We headed off on our safari again. The weather looked a bit ominous but we were still able to enjoy an amazing sunrise. The lodge provided us with wonderful warm ponchos (which were later proven to be very water proof) & each morning when we went out we were given hot water bottles that we welcomed for our cold hands! Megan set out to take us to another section  of the reserve that we hadn’t been to before to see the buffalo. It was quite a drive – about an hour. On the way there we saw our first Springbok.

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After tootling around for a while without seeing much at all, we found a large herd of zebra and giraffe.. about 10 of them! We had a very surreal ‘pinch me’ moment where we had our coffee break with them. Nothing like having a cup of coffee (or hot choc) while the giraffes & zebras all walk around you!

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After packing away our awesome morning coffee we were off to find buffalo. By this time we hadn’t had much rain .. just a few drops here & there but when we got over to the buffalo it poured. It was quite uncomfortable driving along in the cold but the trusty ponchos kept us dry. So basically you can imagine us all sitting with the ponchos totally covering us & hiding our faces under the hoods so only our eyes were peeping out trying not to miss a thing! I take my hat off to Megan who didn’t have a poncho & drove through the torrential rain & managed to see where she was going!

On the way, when it wasn’t pouring, we saw a different species of zebra. Those that we had morning tea with were Birchell’s Zebra where the stripe goes right around their body, but these zebra, the Cape Mountain zebra, don’t have the stripe going right around. They were also much more skittish. There are some other differences too.. see if you can spot them.

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Birchell’s Zebra
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Cape Mountain Zebra

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Then we found the buffalo! They are the strangest looking things. The horns looks like they come out of a skull cap or I’ve heard of them being described as a bad 50’s hairdo! They walked past us (some 20 odd in the herd) & when the alpha male came through he stopped and paused and stared at us. It was very unnerving & I was almost expecting him to charge us. Luckily he decided against it and moved on with the rest. Phew!

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On the way back to the lodge we spotted a jackal just sitting in a dry water hole & of course more impala & zebra.

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When we arrived we were again welcomed with hot towel, hot breakfast & another warm bath. Knowing that it was Rod’s birthday (I wonder who told them?), the staff brought out a bottle of bubbly to have with breakfast.. now that’s my kind of special treat. Megan joined us for our breakfast which was great as we were able to chat without the bumpy terrain of the jeep.

Mind you the terrain is stunning. The soil varies from red red soil, to just sand to granite white. There are no tall trees here, just scrub but the colours are so similar to Australia.

After our champagne breakfast it was time to do some more work on the photos, read, relax etc. Time goes so fast it’s amazing. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch! A German couple had arrived and they joined us . And yet again, another fantastic meal.. the food really was exceptional. The lovely chef made Rod a birthday cake for our dessert and all the ladies from behind the scenes brought it out & sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him both in Xhosa and in English. It took me by surprise so I didn’t have a chance to take a photo which was such a shame as it was such a special moment.

So off on our afternoon safari which was to be amazing experience. First we managed to see the lions devouring their kill of warthog.

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It was a lovely afternoon as the rain had left us, although it was quite windy & very chilly. We watched the clawless otter play in the river. It was too far away to see them clearly but they had a lovely spot.

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 We didn’t realise but the trackers had been following the herd of elephant during the day. All the jeeps have 4 way radios & they talk to each other constantly. We couldn’t catch a lot of what was said so wasn’t sure what was going on but suddenly we were off. When we stopped, we sat & listened & there it was, the sound of trees cracking. We strained our eyes and stared into the thick copse of trees. Surely we could see elephants if they were in there? Then suddenly a glimpse of grey. We were so excited, they were so close. Then .. “oh there’s another one” then suddenly out of the trees they came. (I note that I did say earlier there are no tall trees in this reserve. By that I mean, taller than about 8 metres such as Marula trees. But these trees were tall and dense enough to hide these elephants). We couldn’t believe it. From a glimpse of one, there were suddenly about 20 of them. Megan took off when she was stared down by one of the cows so we gave them wide birth. I couldn’t work out whether to take photos, just watch or take a video! I decide to try to take a video while watching them. Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well. I have to say it was probably one of the most exciting moments I’ve ever experienced. 

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After all that exhilaration it was time for a sundowner. Once again Megan took us to an amazing lookout. The crosses under the tree represent the passing of some rhinos that were poached. I’ve put in a shot of the picnic gear that was produced with every stop. The containers all fitted together so neatly.

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On the way back to the lodge we passed a very content male kudu. Aren’t his antlers/horns just incredible? Notice the thorns on the bush? We had to be very careful when in the jeep not to lean out too far as these would cause a nasty injury!

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Then it was time for dinner at 7. An American couple had arrived from Nashville Tennessee who were very entertaining. It was a great night with lots of chatter & again exceptional food & wine. Another incredible day!

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