A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Lauriesam

Home Again

The day and night and day that went on forever

It is true that all good things must come to an end and truly we were so ready to come home. Home is great.
But Africa is a special place, from Cape Town to Kruger and then back to Johannesburg there is something for everyone.
The food and wine is spectacular and the people are very friendly. The vibe in CapeTown is terrific and it is such a great place to visit. The diversity of culture and of things to see and do make Cape Town a great vacation destination.
Visiting the game reserve is truly an amazing experience, being in touch with nature in a way that is so rare. The fresh air, the creatures large and small, how they are interdependent and how they interact with each other is just so fascinating. It would be sad to drive around and snap photos of each animal so you could say you saw the big 5 or magnificent 7 and move on without sitting a while to observe. (The guide and tracker told us that people do that.)I will be writing about the game drives we had even though we are home so I can share these interactions and observations, it is just fascinating.
So there is that, the happy vibe of Cape Town, the adventure in the bush and then the crazy, crazy Johannesburg. We always spend a few days there to see our family. Our cousins always put themselves out in such a big way to welcome us. This time we also made some new friends, and it was interesting to hear the stories of life in Johannesburg.
There is the good and the bad. People are so warm and friendly.

Posted by Lauriesam 11:46 Comments (0)

Game Drives

Better than Disney

sunny

Lions so close you could touch them, although you may not want to,
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Wildabeast,LGS_2209.jpg
Rhino's that may be extinct soon,LGS_2201.jpg
and sunsets that will linger in your mind for a long time to come.IMG_4500.jpg
Every minute on safari is special. There may be times when the guide is looking for something specific and you are driving around, bumping up and down in the vehicle not knowing what is around the next turn in the road and then all of a sudden you turn a corner and wow! You were heading to a watering hole to see the hippos at the end of the day and instead a heard of elephant are having a massive swimming party!
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I could write and entry on each amazing animal, insect, bird or track in the sand we saw and it would never take you there completely.
Imagine no TV, telephone, news and standing in the middle of the 'bush veld' gazing across the land as far as the eye can see. The only aircraft are the small planes you see between 10 and 2 that pick up and drop off guests.
It's quiet. Devoid of city sounds, but full of the sounds of the life in the bush. A big crunch is probably and elephant near by, you may hear them or not. You might be driving down the dirt road and boom, an elephant right in front of you, or a whole herd.
Then its quiet again but then you hear the birds calling all their unique songs back and forth telling their tales. Perhaps a lion roars in the distance. So you drive, listen, follow. Then there are vultures circling and you know there is something, and finally you find the epicenter, a kill. Three big male lions have brought down a buffalo, as they sleep the vultures are tempted by the carcass. Maybe it smells good to them, not so much to us, but we have to watch. The vultures land near by and disturb the sleeping lions, one of them wake up and come around the bush to his kill to feed, it's gory, but we are glued to the scene.
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I realize this is not for everyone, and it surprises me. I notice that when we are near another vehicle other guests are looking at their cell phones or seem disinterested. But for me it's the greatest place on earth.
A place where nature shows man how great the planet is and that our abundance is to be appreciated and not squandered. Every living thing has a place and purpose in the big picture and if nothing else, it would be nice to bring that message home. I will try to remember.
I know you can find these special and sacred places right under our noses just out side of our towns and cities. There are parks and forrests and many protected land areas in the US. I have brought back a special calm that I had been looking for and I am going to do my best to tap into that as often as possible now that I am home.

Posted by Lauriesam 03:23 Archived in South Africa Tagged #offthebeatenpath #safari #southafrica #singita #serenity Comments (1)

The Game Reserve

Baby Buffalo

overcast 77 °F

I am more than lucky that this is my fourth trip to South Africa and each time we have visited at least one game reserve. To describe a 'safari' in a game reserve I would say it is wildlife in their natural setting, no fences, open vehicles (this may vary depending on the camp), and you would usually have a guide and maybe a guide and a tracker. In the Sabi Sands where our camp is situated along the sand river( it close to the Kruger national park), there is open land as far as the eye can see. The camps are usually small, I.e., it's not a Hilton and the guides are there to keep you safe, share information and with the tracker help find the animals to watch or photograph. I am married to a South African and have been watching animal planet and Nat Geo and have been hearing about 'the game reserve' for years. So it wasn't long into my first trip that I 'got it' and. fell in love with the whole concept of the game drives.
A typical day starts with a 5:00 AM wake up, meet for quick 'cupa' at 5:30 and then climb up onto the vehicle for the early morning game drive. Then you stop around 8 or so for a coffee or tea and a little treat then we finish up the morning ride around 9 or 9:30 depending on what you find or see. When you go back to camp there is a big breakfast spread and most meals we eaten on the patio overlooking the river. After breakfast, rest time and there is lunch if you like around 1:00 if you are hungry. We meet up again around 4 pm +/_ for the PM game drive and of course, my favorite, sundowners at sundown for photos and a drinky-poo and some biltong and snacks. It is a good time to talk to the guide and the tracker and ask questions, or take pictures of the landscape.
When you watch the wilderness shows the crew spends lots of time watching, waiting, filming and editing for the show. So knowing that, the things we saw on this trip are even more amazing. I think it was the second morning that we sat and watched a herd of buffalo grazing and crossing a big field. The grasses are tall, but we have a good view. At one point they are almost in single file, they keep on coming and we see a hyena sneaking around behind them. Hyenas have a distinctive walk, their head bobs up and down and they are very opportunistic, looking for someone else's kill or a baby animal, easy prey. In this case we see a very new baby buffalo trying to keep up with Mom. Michelle, looking with the binoculars and our trackers says the baby still has the umbilical cord trailing, so we all look with the binos (binoculars), too. Now the hyena is catching up and the mom buffalo turns around and goes after the hyena. Sadly the baby turns too, and tries to catch up with the mom. We can't believe it, we are freaking out and hoping the hyena doesn't get the baby. The mom is still in pursuit and all of a sudden the heard turns around to help, they try to go around the baby, but the baby is trying to keep up with the mom as she chases the hyena away. At first we were just watching buffalo grazing and moving across the field. We could have driven away at anytime to look for something else. But the key is to sit and watch and take it all in, the landscape, the clouds and maybe a hyena lurking in the distance. On game drives patience is a virtue.
Well the baby lives to see another hour, because that is how it is here, minute by minute, hour by hour. Survival of the fittest. The hyena is still around the outskirts, and will likely not give up. It will have to be faster than the mom and not alert the heard to catch the baby buffalo. It was amazing to watch.

Posted by Lauriesam 06:31 Archived in South Africa Tagged #safari #southafrica #singita #gamedrives #sabisands Comments (1)

On The Road Again

Into the jungle

overcast

Keep your hands and legs in the vehicle, the animals you see are real

It's been an amazing trip so far, everyday has been special and now the game reserve.
We take the bumpy ride back to Cape Town Airport and fly to Johannesburg where we over night a an airport hotel. For a brief moment we are back to reality, TV's, good internet and newspapers. It's hard to go from none of that to all of that, so I am trying to avoid CNN. (It's only one night).
What is interesting about South Africa vs the US is that there are people visiting here from all over the African continent. Ghana, Zimbabwe, Malwai, Congo and more. The clothing, accents and languages vary and it's interesting to find out where people are from. Lots of people stay at the airport hotel to make early connections which is why we are here.
We get up early the next day to catch a Federal Air flight to the game reserve. The office is right behind the hotel, so it's super convienent.
We are in a small plane (maybe 20 people) and we take off at 10 am, make one stop and then a 5 more minutes flight to our camp. The plane is more like a bus with short hops and picking up and dropping people off with short turn around so. With little fan fare people come on and off and they take off again. The pilot just has to make sure there are no animals on the run way, and the bags are in the hold and off they go.
The guide and tracker meet us at the air strip and take us to the camp. The game reserve is in Sabi Sands, bordering the Kruger National Park, and the game sightings are supposed to be very good here.
At the camp we get the welcome, with rules and reg's and it seems like it's taking a long time. Rules are things like, don't go anywhere alone in the dark, call for an escort. There is no crime here, but monkey's, a leopard and her cub have been walking through the camp and little bush buck wander around, too. If you stay long enough, you may see all kinds of animals wander through the camp. The monkey's come out when they serve food and sneak up and steal the rolls right off the bread plates. Even though the staff are vigilant the manage to steal food at almost every meal. It's funny and scary at the same time.
I digress, meanwhile we are still waiting and Clive asks if the rooms are ready and Allan starts asking if they know our travel agent, Vicky @ Opulent Travel. The lady we are speaking to is having a hard time with this last question and all of a sudden Vicky appears! We are all so excited and are hugging and laughing and trying to figure out what is going on. She told us she was in Cape Town and we felt badly that she was working and we were having such fun. Vicky had been viewing a property in the area and organized the suprise. She spent the night and came on two game drives with us, it was truly one of the highlights of our trip.
We had so much fun spending time together at this beautiful place and we are so lucky to have her looking after us, helping us find these special places and making sure we are getting everywhere with seamless connections as well.

Posted by Lauriesam 01:38 Archived in South Africa Tagged #south_africa #safari #singita #sabi_sand Comments (0)

Morukuru Family Ocean House

De Hoop Nature Reserve

sunny 85 °F

A Special Treat

I don't think any of us knew what we were in for when we picked this lovely place and I think I can speak for all four of us when I say we thought it was magical.
Leaving Stellenbosch is always challenging because it has so much to offer and the long bumpy ride to get to the Ocean house made me wonder as I have mentioned the wisdom of my decision.
Now that we have moved on, the memories of the Ocean House stay with me and I suspect will linger until I return. Besides the location and the natural beauty of the property surrounding and the inside of the house, the entire staff from A to Z were simply fantastic. The fine art of hospitality done to perfection. The team is led by Calvin and Chere' LGS_1898.jpgLGS_1789.jpgand they are supported by VusiLGS_1906.jpg,
Admire,LGS_1872.jpg
Tight,LGS_1900.jpg
Sam,LGS_1913.jpg
Dudu,LGS_1910.jpg
Elvis, 270_LGS_1903.jpg
Unathi, Philli LGS_1890.jpg
and Chef Jose'270_LGS_1893.jpg.
Each one of these beautiful people add something unique to the Ocean House experience, sometimes it is conversation or and appreciated effort, like the day Elvis spent several hours building the fire that heated the hot tub for us90_IMG_4435.jpg. I have never experience this kind of hospitality and gentle service bestowed upon us by this team. Chere' and Calvin make it clear that the home was our to enjoy as if it were our own.
Besides being the hosts, they were equally comfortable when we asked them to join us for dinner, they did not seem like 'the managers,' they seemed more like friends we had not seen in years and it was clearly time to catch up. They were honest, down to earth and a joy to spend time with. Whether it was at the bush braai, the picnic on the beach or at dinner, we talked about life, family, music and our personal stories. What a unique environment.
The house itself was designed with comfort, simple beauty and the joining of nature and living space to create an environment that is easy to enjoy.
The hikes, short game drives, bush braai's, sundowners, stargazing, book reading in the window boxes and wood fired hot tub are just some of the delightful activities we enjoyed. I wish I had stayed another day.
I loved sitting upstairs in the bar in the early morning with the big floor to ceiling windows open and listening to the birds while I drank my coffee. IMG_0273.jpgIMG_0271.jpgIMG_0270.jpgThe sea air and the music provided by Mother Nature was a great tranquilizer. Places like this bring me peace, tranquility and joy.
I hope to make it back some day.
Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to the Morukuru Family properties, booking agents or people who work there, just a happy guest!

Posted by Lauriesam 02:59 Archived in South Africa Tagged #offthebeatenpath #southafrica #oceanhouse #dehoopnaturereserve #morukurufamily Comments (1)

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