The last night in the Kruger Park was spent exploring another camp inside the park itself, Rhino Post Safari Lodge. Gotta confess and tell you that this type lodge is my kind of place – somewhat like Swiss Family Robinson meets the African bush. The accommodation is called “tents” but all that can be considered an actual tent might be the exterior walls. The ceiling is made of local thatch and built at a high pitch such that the interior clearance must be more than 15 feet at its peak.
The floor is made from finished hardwood and there is a large deck outside overlooking the now dry riverbed where game flourishes en route to the camp watering hole. The bathroom includes double vanity, toilet and claw foot bathtub. There is also my number one extravagance – the outdoor shower. Nothing like bathing under the sun or stars as nature a variety of animals could pass by to keep you company from a distance. All this attraction is elevated to a height of about 8 feet off the banks of the riverbed.
It can be a bit confusing to the outsider but there are really only three choices for game viewing in or contiguous to the Kruger Park. Travelers can stay on a private game reserve contiguous to the Kruger Park (i.e., Sabi Sand, Timbavati, Manyaleti, etc). Here, the land is privately owned but the fences have been dropped between it and the Kruger Park so that animals roam freely into its property. The owners build accommodation and take clients out on game drives on their land. On such establishments game viewing can be done both on road and off road, affording the customer the most intimate game viewing experience possible. Lion, elephant, leopard and the like can be enjoyed from but a few feet away, given the animal’s cooperation.
Nyala at watering hole
Option two would be for the customer to either drive themselves or hire a company to drive them through the Kruger Park. This choice is less expensive but the game viewing is more limited due to their being no off road access. Game can cross the road in front of your car but the activity can also be across a valley so the experience is a bit more risky seeing game up close.
Option three is really a mix of both above. Inside the Kruger Park the land is all government owned and restricted. About 10 years ago, the park made a few spots available to private companies. They were allowed to build an eco friendly lodge and the lease the traversing rights to specific areas for 20 years. So, while technically inside the park, the game viewing experience is more akin to a private game reserve with the exception that often the vehicles cannot go off road either.
Here at Rhino Post Safari Lodge we are engaging in option three.
Always found a great appeal to the game lodge experience is the other people in camp. One would think after all these years in the bush (12 years now) I would have some regular stories of certain visitors making life more difficult for the rest of the guests but it has very seldom been the case. If you become a little more extroverted the 2 legged animals you meet in camp can be as interesting as the 4 legged animals you meet in the park.
This experience solidified my point as I first met Antonio and his daughter, Ana, from Porto, Portugal. He, a mechanical engineer, and she, an architect, are both attending a conference in Maputo, Mozambique. They took this side journey as a rest over stop before beginning work. Spent some time speaking with Ana about her work, Mozambique and the upcoming conference.
As we departed for the afternoon game drive, I introduced myself to a family, the Devereaux group consisting of mother Tam, father Rob and sons Josh (11) and Harry (8). Originally from South Africa, they, like so many other South Africans, have taken flight to lands in which their opportunities are greater – in this case, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Rob is in the construction business and while things have slowed somewhat in Dubai, he is busy flying into India with some regularity. They have been living in Dubai now for four years and are quick to express their pleasure with the ability for their children to be safe in the streets and in their neighborhood. South Africa’s crime problem has grown more problematic as is witnessed by Tam’s parents soon needing to leave their family farm due to increased burglaries and nearby armed hold ups of neighbors. I shared my vehicle with them and eventually exchanged contact details as I am planning to return to Dubai and need some recommendations on where to stay.
Another couple were South African but in the hospitality industry and just looking for some quiet time. TO round out the group there was Dieter, Gabby and their 13 year old son, Manuel, all from Munich, Germany. Manuel’s spoken English was quite impressive and we all spoke for some time at dinner about Germany and the proficiency of English as a second language amongst Germans.
The last couple in camp was from Zurich, Switzerland and on their honeymoon. She too was named Anna, I believe. She is a native Swiss but interestingly enough spent a year in the US as an exchange student in of all places, Boone, North Carolina, my home state. Her husband was from Cape Town but ventured into Switzerland via London along with his degree in IT. He always wanted to be a translator so he ditched his profession and went to school in Switzerland to learn to speak German – a tall task indeed. Yet, he is now a translator from German to English and enjoys his work very much.
Been so carried away on the description of a game experience in or at the Kruger Park that I forgot the details of our afternoon game drive yesterday. Ben, our South African game ranger, took out me and the Devereaux family and within 30 minutes we saw to our left a small herd of elephant making their way down to the river form a drink. They were headed our way and had to cross our path so we switched off the engine and waited. Sure enough the mother first passed with her 6 months old calf not 30 feet away. The rest of the herd came by and allowed us close proximity to their family unit. Such close-up experiences are hard for folks to believe who are considering a first time visit to Africa. We sat in that one spot for a good 45 minutes, the herd milling about us, until getting down the road another 15 minutes we stumbled upon another small matriarch hers feeding in the brush. One of the young bulls passed just behind our Land Rover not 5 feet from the rear spare wheel.
For sundowners, we stopped along the banks of the flowing river, listening to hippos call from upstream. Taking in a glass of wine and some biltong, Rob then took sight of a hyena on our side of the river. He called in his distinctive way, waiting for a return call. It was about dusk and given the hyena was heading our way downstream we figured by the time he reached 50 feet of us he would have turned but he just kept ambling towards us as though he did not know we were there. The Land Rover was an easy few steps from us but it is always interesting to feel an animal so close versus just seeing it from the vehicle. The hyena did not turn again until he was about 20 feet away. We were straining our eyes a bit because the visibility was so poor.
By about 7:30PM we arrived back at the lodge and what awaited me was that nice, long, outdoor, hot shower.