Sunday, June 17, 2012

OUR AFRICAN SAFARI: "SHIBULA" Day 2 (Morning)

GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!
MAXMOM here...

(Dear friends, please note that these blogposts are NOT sponsored in any way...this is my small attempt to promote my amazing country and its diversity of beautiful tourist attractions.  This small 'shout out' is my way of saying thank you to the management and staff of a beautiful lodge.)

---xXx---


*** If you would like to 'catch up' and read the account of "DAY 1" please click HERE

SHIBULA LODGE:
(DAY 2 : EARLY MORNING GAME DRIVE...)


Despite all the comfortable amenities, our sleep is disturbed during the night. Inside our suite, we are warm and snug, but the Baboons on the nearby cliff-side definitely think otherwise.  Loud screams of domestic dispute punctuate the silence of the African night and infiltrate the whole valley. The Baboon troop scuffles and jostles for the warmest ledge in the long dark night. Hierarchies are negotiated and tempers flare while they sort out their differences.Temperatures plummet too and, from the sanctuary of our warm beds, we 'hear' all about it.


Our ranger, 'Thomas', gives us a 'wake-up' call at 6am.  (We discover later that his name is actually named 'Sela'  - 'Thomas' is his radio call name and is apparently easier for the tongues of international tourists) We throw on some clothes and grab extra layers of jackets.  Then we make our way to the main lodge for coffee and rusks.  The dawn is just beginning to break over the horizon. Together with two other couples we finally take our places on the game-viewing Landrover. 

"Is there anything special you would like to see this morning?" Sela asks

"LIONS!" is the unanimous answer.
 In the early morning dawn, the temperatures are freezing and I feel a flutter of empathy for those poor Baboons who have to brace this cold every night.  

Frost lies thick in the low-lying river beds and the surrounding grasses look silver and brittle.  A prominent aroma fills the countryside.  It's the sap of the Beechwood trees.  

Thomas explains the intrigue about these trees. African folklore suggests that they attract lightning and it's taboo to burn them near African dwellings.   I think the fragrance is beautiful - never mind the lightning.

Sela navigates the Landrover carefully - picking a path through the trecherous terrain.  

He switches the gears to low range as we brace the high hill ahead .  





Every now and again, Sela stops to read the tracks on the road. 
"Yes, they are definitely in the area," Sela assures us. 
(Above: Lion tracks)

  On the radio, another ranger confirms that the lions have travelled overnight and are definitely in the area. Where are these elusive creatures? Despite our growing anticipation, they are nowhere to be seen


To appease us, Sela speaks about the trees, the grasses and the beautiful vegetation in the valley - essential elements to keep the antelope well-fed (and the lions happy).  It's fascinating, but we still want to see the lions. 
 (Above: Duiker)

(Above: Warthog bull)


(Above: Zebra and Kudu cow in background)
(Above: Impala/ "Rooibok")

Finally Sela declares that the lions have moved into a restricted area.  Unfortunately we can't track them further.  Patience is called for.  The rangers will unite and attempt again to find them for us this evening.


We stop at a nearby dam and Sela lays out a feast.  A small table is retrieved from the vehicle and tastefully covered with a tablecloth.  Biscuits and steaming hot-chocolate is served.  Our chilly fingers wrap themselves around the mugs - absorbing the heat - while we interrogate Sela about the Pride of elusive lions. 

"It's only hearsay," we gentle jibe.

 The reflection of the early morning light is breathtaking. Grasses shine golden and a lonesome bleat of a Wildebeest reaches our ears.  
 ' Maybe tonight,' Sela tries to assure us.
 'The cats are hungry and need to eat...maybe tonight...?"

Back at the lodge.... 

 After a scrumptious breakfast on the deck we settle into the day.  It's time to laze by the pool, in the jacuzzi alongside our room, or simply sit and read - ensconced in the plump cushions on the deck. 

 The silence of the African bush is deafening - one is almost scared to breathe.  But it's impossible not to enjoy the ever-prevailing sunshine. 




Squirrel families sprint across the low walls of the lodge, scurry up the trees and under the rocks.


(Above: Crested Barbet)   

 The squirrels are constantly on the go - in search of any morsels of food and small insects.  
We watch them from the deck and also marvel at the many colourful birds. 

 In our room an endangered 'Stick insect' doesn't move an inch.
These beautiful, endangered creatures will seek out shelter during colder times and will remain immobilized for weeks.  Indeed, this one - in our bathroom - didn't move at all throughout the entire 5 days of our visit.  It was about 8cm in length.


A delicious lunch is served at 3pm (late, by anyone's standards, but planned that way to accommodate new arriving guests, and to fill tummies in preparation for the all-important evening game drive).

"So, will we see LIONS this time..?" is the question on all our minds.

"There's a very strong chance,"  is the non-committal answer.  "Unfortunately nothing is ever guaranteed in the African bush.  Take the time, however, to enjoy the lodge and its restful amenities.  We'll soon be on our way again...and we promise to look hard for them..."

(Be sure to follow the next blogpost...Will we see the Pride of 7 lions next time?)

(Dear friends, be sure to follow the blog posts during this next week as I share our FULL adventure.  Many thanks to the management and staff at the beautiful SHIBULA LODGE for your incredible hospitality!)

9 comments:

Scout and Freyja said...

You say it's cold. What is the temp? The lodge is gorgeous and looks so cozy and inviting.

NanaNor's said...

Thank you dear friend for taking us along on your holiday. I love the entire bush; it is very beautiful but I think I would get scared at the baboons fighting at night.
Hugs, Noreen

Sam said...

Hi Maxmom, wow this is great.

Mitch and Molly said...

Another exciting day! We hope you get to see the lions!

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

kks said...

wow! looks amazing! thx for sharing all your adventures!!
xoxo

Two French Bulldogs said...

How beautiful...that is moms dream vacation
Benny & Lily

Tweedles -- that's me said...

I am quite certain the the fragrance that I am smelling right now, is from the sap of the Beechwood trees.( that you mentioned!)
In fact I think I can hear those tall grasses shiver in the cold!
What a fun time it must be to see all those wild animals and birds!
I wonder if you got any sleep with those baboons arguing!
Biscuits and hot chocolate sound like the perfect treat to have. I can imagine all of you sitting around the little table taking all the beauty in!

You are a wonderful story teller!
Thank you again
love
tweedles

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Thanks Maxmom for sharing this holiday. Your photos are wonderful. Can't wait for the next instalment. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

MySpecialDoggies said...

Is this the best time of year to do a safari? The colors are just so vibrant. The animals are just incredible to look at - and you're blessed to see and hear them! Can't wait until chapter 3!

Woofs
Nadine & golden Neeli