Saturday, June 16, 2012


MAXMOM here...
(Above: Our 'room' for the week)

With great excitement, 'LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX' presents a 5-day safari into the African bush.  
Our destination:

This beautiful lodge, managed by Laurie and Desiree Roux is nestled in the picturesque Waterberg mountains in the North West Province of South Africa.
Join me, as I share my holiday with you - in all its fun and fascination.



The beautiful SHIBULA game lodge nestles quietly, alongside a cliff in the Welgevonden Game reserve in the North West Province of South Africa. We've made our booking and we're on our way - 5 glorious days in the African bush.  For the past five years my soul has hankered after the bush.  My dream is about to become reality.  The bonus is that SHIBULA is also home to Africa's 'Big 5'.  We're in for a treat and I can't wait to absorb the peace and tranquility.  I also want to find sustenance and inspiration for my writing.  SHIBULA, here we come! 

Our three and a half hour drive from Johannesburg is comfortable despite some roadworks along the latter part of our journey.  The rolling mountains of the Waterberg welcome us to the area. 

25 kms outside Vaalwater, we arrive at the main gate of the reserve.  A smiling ranger welcomes us, packs our luggage into his vehicle and offers us a drink.

 'Sean' is ready to tell us all about his African home. He is enthusiastic and inspiring.  It’s another hour’s drive in the open-aired-game-vehicle before we arrive at our lodge and he wants to ensure a good introduction to the reserve. He succeeds marvellously. 
(Thank you, Sean!)
 (Above: Kudu cross the road...note the large curly horns of the male)
 (Above: The contrast between the 'dry' bush and the blue skies is breathtaking.  We're in the throws of winter, but in summer-time, the grass will transform into various shades of green)
 Above: Mr Warthog (aka 'Pumba') searches for grub amongst the roots of plants.
 (Above: Baby and Mommy Zebra)
(Above: Bushbuck)
(Above: Female Kudu navigating the rocks)

On the way we pause to watch various animals.  My nostrils take in the unmistakable smells of the bush - along with the dust. Wonderful stuff!  

We arrive at the lodge to find that the staff of SHIBULA have congregated to sing a song of welcome.  They move to an innate African rhythm.  Afterwards we are assisted off our vehicle and our luggage is discreetly ferried it off to our rooms.  Everyone is full of smiles and I feel as if I have finally arrived home.  It’s been far too long since 'The Boss' and I have been in the African bush - in all its breath-taking glory.

SHIBULA’s main offices look simple and unobtrusive from the outside although the exterior defies the lush furnishings inside the lodge.  

(Above: Shibula's small swimming pool - for summertime, of course!)

A deck also overlooks a small animal 'watering hole' and the cliff opposite suggests the opportunity to delight at the baboons as they go about their evening antics.  But it's the vervet monkeys that capture our attention...

We watch as they scout an old tree trunk.  They've found termites - a tasty treat and they are literally sucking the branches.  They hardly glance at us as we sip our fluted orange juice.

The lodge manager - Laurie - comes to introduce himself and to orientate us to the lodge. For a while he focusses in on bush safety.  Apparently we need to exercise caution when walking around the lodge – animals are free to roam at will and these include the big cats.  It's best to remain vigilant at all times.  He also tells us about the ever-present baboons.  They are known to steal trinkets from unattended rooms, so we need to keep doors and windows shut. Suitably warned, we are then escorted to our beautiful suites. 

It seems that our five days here are going to be luxurious – we have every amenity we could ask for.  The rooms are plush and tastefully decorated.  All stops have been pulled out for our comfort. There's also a bush spa on the premises where we can de-stress. I make a mental note to book a back massage later on in the week.

We laze around on the deck after a sumptuous lunch and then dress warmly for the evening game drive.  The temperature drops significantly and the small group is hardly recognisable in their added layers of clothing - it's turning freezing.  More blankets wait for us in the vehicle.  We’re off...One of our first sightings is a group of elephants. 

These giant pachyderms are so graceful as they pluck out roots of tree trunks and stuff large branches in their mouths.  I smile as I listen to their loud chewing – whole branches devoured in seconds.  One of the giants gives us the ‘look’, flaps his ears and raises his trunk.  Our experienced ranger - this time, 'Thomas' - switches the vehicle back on and backs away to a safe distance.  These creatures must be respected – they are the Lords of the bush and can be unpredictable.

Different animals congregate on the open plain as we make our way to have drinks at a designated spot and watch the sunset.  Rhinos here still have their horns and herds of Wildebeest suggest a place of sanctuary.  The sunset near the small air-strip is breathtaking.

Disappointingly our ranger discovers that the night-time spot-light is not functional.  It’s getting darker by the second and only the vehicle’s headlights provide light in the ever-darkening night.  We need to make our way back to the lodge as it's impossible to spot game without a spotlight. The stars, however, speckle the night-time sky – diamonds in their millions. 

Suddenly, brakes are applied forcefully and the game-vehicle comes to a standstill.  
 (Above: Sorry about the fuzziness...Yes, I was shaking!)

We gasp as a huge male lion lifts his head and stares straight into the headlights from his resting place in the middle of the road.  Our ranger indicates that the entire pride is to his right, just a short distance away.  I can’t see anything in this darkness and am suddenly aware of how it feels to be vulnerable in the African bush. 

The lion rises and disappears into the night. It's pitch-black and there are predators all around. I shiver but this time it's not from the cold.   But it’s an experience that can’t be beaten and adds to my store of qualitative after-dinner anecdotes.

Back at the lodge we are welcomed with hot face cloths – to warm up our icy hands.  A log fire and hot-chocolate add to our comfort.  Soon, dinner is served and we settle into shared tales of bush adventures.  What a way to start our holiday!  Thank you SHIBULA LODGE.

When the sun rises, it will be 'Day 2'.  
Our wake-up call is 6am and the temperature will be icy.
Join me for the next blogpost of our African adventure.

Remember, this adventure will run the whole week - and there are some awesome tales to tell. 
You won't be disappointed.

Sending lotsaluv

(Dear friends, please follow the blog posts during this next week as I share our FULL adventure into the African bush)


Millie and Walter said...

What an exciting adventure and we are only on day 1! I am anxiously waiting for all the installments. Thanks for sharing as I will never get to experience this in real life for myself.


My Dog Sam - Ruptured Disk said...

Hi Maxmom, oh wow this is a great treat. We wish we were there too!

Berts Blog said...

This is wonderful. we can't wait until day two. thanks for taking us along.

bert and My Vickie

NanaNor's said...

Hi Caryl, Thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure with us. Just last night, Barry, Avril and her mum & dad were over for dinner and we talked of your homeland. Some stories make me want to stay here but your photos make me want to jump on a plane. Sending love your way today.

How Sam Sees It said...

LOL - your room has a smile! :D

We hope you have lots of fun - we look forward to seeing lots of pictures!


Val said...

Wow, what an amazing adventure...thanks for allowing us to tag along. I can't wait til the next installment.
An African Safari is on my bucket list---maybe someday!!

Molly the Airedale said...

Wow! What an adventure of a lifetime!

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I am on the edge of my seat and will look forward to the next amazing chapter!!!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Oh my gosh- what an experience you had. The photos you took are gorgeous! I was thinking about how lucky Sean is to live right there among all the animals!
The way you describe the smells, I am sure I can smell it too. What wonderfulness of the wild.
The animals look happy and safe. Yes, this is their sanctuary of peace.
Your room is beautiful, and SHIBULA GAME LODGE looks so inviting!
The elephants are such a masterpiece of creation! Did you hear them trumpet?
All the animals in their glory- oh I would be shaking too from excitement.
Thank you for sharing !

The Life of Riley said...

What a great experience!I look forward to reading the rest of your posts about your time at teh lodge.

MySpecialDoggies said...

Oh Caryl - how breathtaking & beautiful. I'll be reading about day 2 in a couple of minutes. Enjoy your vacation & we'll keep waiting for the gorgeous pictures. Your country is magnificent.

Nadine & golden Neeli