December 19, 2008

South Africa Travelogue Part 4

The weather was so beautiful on Thursday, December 4th. Actually it was great the whole time we were in South Africa - only two days of a little rain - but it was particularly nice on Thursday, and a great day for a drive. So after a lavish breakfast at our guest house (The Trevoyan) we drove the scenic Cape route which was spectacularly gorgeous and goes down to the Cape of Good Hope.The scenery along the way was breathtaking, and we stopped at Boulders Beach which is a haven for penguins, hundreds of them sunning themselves on the rocks.

Such cute little creatures, waddling around and flopping on their bellies. When we got down to Cape Point we climbed up to the lighthouse for an amazing view of the southernmost tip of the continent.
Later, back in Cape Town, we had dinner at a restaurant called Miller's Thumb which was walking distance from our guest house. It was a little funky and very cute with great good.
On Friday we got up at 3:30 a.m. to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight to Johannesburg. Got into Jo'burg at 8:00 a.m., got our car, GPS and cell phone, and headed out for Chapungu Lodge in the Thorny Bush Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park, a little less than 500 km away. I don't mind that we drove, altho it was very long and most of it was pretty boring (looking much like Iowa), but if someone asked I'd say, fly. The drive took us about seven hours. Lots of people (travel agents, friends, people on the Fodor's website) said it wasn't safe for us to drive but we never had a safety issue, just a boredom issue.
When we finally got to Thorny Bush and were driving into the game reserve toward Chapungu Lodge we saw giraffes, zebra and buffalo, just off the road. Amazing. We arrived at the lodge about 4:00 and were personally greeted by Mariliesh and Brendan, the lodge managers, who warmly welcomed us, and turned out to be so helpful and accommodating. They showed us to our luxury tent which was FABULOUS (see my previous post titled "Luxury Tent is Not an Oxymoron")
where we dropped our bags, they gave us some lunch, then drove us (and Daniel and Sondra from Switzerland (right) who had come in just after us) out to hook up with the afternoon game drive. Robin and Liz (below), from Johannesburg, were already on the Land Rover.

We saw wildebeest and impala, and then we came across a leopard, sleeping by a tree. We got within 10 feet of it. Amazing.
The first time you see animals like that, in the wild, up close and personal, it takes your breath away.
We continued on through the bush, then we stopped in a clearing where Eugene, our guide, and Service, our tracker (pronounced Ser veese), brought out snacks and cocktails. Very civilized.
We got back to the lodge about 7:30, freshened up and met for cocktails and dinner at 8:00. Everyone eats together, which is really great and encourages people to get to know each other and talk about the day's events. And we had a fablulous group who were all friendly and witty and much fun. A lovely dinner was served outside (on fine china with cloth napkins) on the patio under a thatched roof.

And then we fell into bed in our luxury tent with the sounds of the bush all around us, and slept like the dead. In spite of getting up at an ungodly hour and driving an ungodly distance, it was a heavenly day.
Stay tuned...more to come.

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