Friday, June 22, 2012


MAXMOM here...


ead about "DAY 1  HERE
***Read about "DAY 2 - (Morning)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 2 - (Evening)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 3 - (Morning)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 3 - (Evening)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 4 - (Evening) HERE


DAY 5 (Our final day)

I set my alarm for 5.30am so that I can enjoy a long, hot shower, pack my bags and get ready.  We've had an absolutely fantastic week and it's our final day. The plan is to get in a last game drive, return for breakfast and then be ready to be transported back to the main gate.  I'm somewhat melancholic about leaving the bush behind.  This is the home of my soul.

After a quick shower, I dry off my hair and get dressed.  The "Boss" is also up early and makes us both a cup of tea.  We get our wake-up call at 6am, but we're already ready and dressed.  The Baboons on the cliff-side are having their last squabbles of the night.  Soon the sun will be up and they will become nomads - searching for food and warding off danger in the open landscape of Welgevonden Game reserve.  We make our way to the reception's deck to enjoy pre-drive rusks (a South African favourite) and coffee.

There's only one other couple joining us this morning.  Soon we're ready to enjoy what Ranger Sean is going to show us.  He wants to take a different route this morning. 

The countryside is frosty in the early morning light.  He edges the vehicle through a small stream.  Long grass and spider-webs glisten in the dawn.  I am always enthralled at the diversity of grasses in the field.

The first rays of sunrise start to appear over the horizon.  The landscape is breathtaking although there doesn't seem to be many animals in this area.
 A lone wildebeest comes prancing through the grass.  We stop to watch him.  So stops to watch us too.  His confidence soon returns and he walks across our path.  He's a 'blue' wildebeest and his fur glistens. For the first time in my life I consider that a wildebeest may, indeed, be considered beautiful.

On the plain, we see more wildebeest - grazing contentedly.  There are a few babies in the herd and their horns are short and straight - unlike their parents with their fashionable curls. 

Down the valley again, we suddenly stop.  Sean points out the Rhino track on the dusty road. 

They're must be nearby and we scan the fields for a glimpse of them.  A Rhino research vehicle is parked ahead of us in the road. Students from Pretoria are working on a project. They are studying the unique vocalisation of Rhino's, so these beautiful animals can't be far off.  I consider the fact that so much of our heritage is invested in these animals.

Yes, there they are!  We finally see them. Three rhinos:  a mother, her calf and a 'hanger-on' male calf from her previous pregnancy.  The larger 'calf' will stay beside his mom and his new sibling until such time as he is big enough to stand his ground against other adult rhinos. Sean switches off the vehicle and we listen to the strange high-pitched sound the baby makes - like a deflating balloon whose outlet has been pulled closed to 'screech'. 
The baby tries to ward off it's older sibling to no avail.

We watch the three walk down the road and follow them.  Their stride is so amusing - swaying side to side like overweight washer-women. 

 I notice that half the mother's tail is missing.  She must have had a skirmish sometime during her life.  Her stumpy tail has healed fully now. She's fine.

 I offer a silent prayer for these three - 
to enjoy a happy life free of poachers!!!  
The rate of poaching in South Africa is horrifying at the moment.  It is predicted that, by the end of 2012,
600 Rhinos would have lost their lives to poachers. The population of their beautiful animals is dwindling. Thankfully Welgevonden game reserve has a team of highly trained and highly successful anti-poachers.  I commend them for their work and wish them all success.  

This scourge MUST BE STOPPED!!!

The Rhino trio stop to feed peacefully as a beautiful black-backed jackal runs by.

Under an old fig tree, Sean stops our vehicle to offer us a warm drink. 

Whilst we are enjoying ourselves, a vehicle from the 'anti-poaching' unit stops by.  The officer warns us that the lion pride is just up the road - they're about to walk into our little party.  We quickly pack up and get back into the vehicle - out of harm's way - in preparation for the lions.

It's the pride from the previous evening.  I can't believe how far they've travelled overnight - these cats are fast!  

Within minutes we are in their midst - lions everywhere: in front of us, behind us.... I don't know which way to photograph.  I am relieved to note that they are unconcerned about our vehicle.

 (Above: Two of the adolescents stop to examine some dung in the middle of the road)

Uncharacteristically, one of the small female 'cubs' suddenly grabs a bundle of thatch grass in her mouth.

 It quickly becomes a play-toy for all the youngsters.  They chase the little female to get the bundle away from her, but she is too fast. We are all incredibly amused by the whole episode.  At the end of the day, they are just giant Kittens!

But the pride is on a mission.  We follow them down the road for a short while and watch them disappear into the hill alongside us.  

Goodbye beautiful creatures...till next time!  

We've been immensely privileged to have witnessed the pride again.  Sean tells us that they will probably find a lookout point, where they'll settle for the day, and watch the plains... Hunting and food is always on the agenda.

Back at the lodge, we enjoy our last breakfast and say our goodbyes.  Our luggage is collected from our room and we settle our bills.  On our way to the gate we see giraffe, bush pigs, zebra, wildebeest and impala.  In the distance the unmistakable profile of a large male lion.  The pride is on the move again, but he's 'waiting' amidst the long grass.  The others must be around but remain unseen.  Not far off wildebeest, warthog and various antelope graze happily.  They are entirely unaware of the potential danger to soon unfold.  Such is the way of the bush...and the circle of life.

As we drive off, back to the city, I somehow feel as if I have left my soul behind. 
What an incredible place!

My sincere thanks goes to the management and staff of the beautiful SHIBULA lodge.  If you are considering a trip to the bush, I urge you to consider this very special place.

Sending lotsaluv

Dear readers,
I do hope you have enjoyed the past seven days with me. 
I have delighted in shaping these posts as a tribute to the hospitality of
Thank you for joining me in this journey.
With love


The Thuglets said...

Absolutely fantastic shots..of such beautiful creatures. The lions are just spectacular.
What a wonderful trip you have had. A trip we would so love to do. Thanks you so much for sharing it with us.

Big Nose Pokes
The Thugletsx

Molly the Airedale said...

What an incredible adventure this has been! Thank you so much for sharing it with us, MaxMom!

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

How Sam Sees It said...

I'm not sure which animal I would be more amazed at seeing - the rhinos or the lions! Wow!


Millie and Walter said...

What a fantastic adventure. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.


NanaNor's said...

My friend, You must put these all in a book for your home, so that others visiting will enjoy the trip as much as we have.
Hugs, Noreen

My Dog Sam - Ruptured Disk said...

Hi Maxmom, that was great. We really enjoyed riding along. Thank you.

Tweedles -- that's me said...

This journey has been incredible for us, and we were not even there!
The beauty that you shared brings tears to our eyes. We feel sad also that you had to leave.
I know you feel you left your soul behind, but I hope you can draw it back again.
Thank you so much for sharing the world of the bush. The freedom of all that live together speaks so much to my heart.
Yes, we must save the Rhinos

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Oh Caryl, you are a lucky woman to have seen all these beautiful creatures. My gosh, those lions were just magnificant and the rhinos are such amazing animals. Thanks you so much for sharing this holiday with us. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

Scout and Freyja said...

I've read your posts once and twice and three times and will a fourth, I'm sure. Your narrative is remarkable painting pictures as I read. Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful experience with all of us.

Jed and Abby in MerryLand said...

What a magical journey! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. We just hope all the animals have the sense to stay inside the preserve and that the anti-poaching teams have a 100% success rate.

Jed & Abby