For me there is nothing more exciting than getting into the bush, so when my husband walks through the doors and tells me he has won a 4-day getaway to Mabula Game Lodge, I was in my element. All I can say is “babe… best you sell more of those Michelin tyres”, because you will have one very satisfied, sane wife and as we all know, a happy wife equals a very happy husband!
I promise you, I counted the days… And then just like that it was time for our bush getaway. Thank goodness, because I literally could not wait for some much needed time away.
We arrived to such a warm welcome from some warthogs eating the grass outside of the lodge, so of course I was already in my element, snapping away, while the poor reception staff where trying to welcome us.
From then on the trip just got better and better… Literally our day consisted of eating and game drives, oh and quality time with my husband… did I mention the eating and the game drives.
So from then, we had 3 full buffet meals a day (gee, no wonder my clothes felt so tight) and a game drive twice a day.
We had our morning knock on the door at 5:30am by our guide, Francis, but I was definitely up earlier to be the first on the vehicle waiting in huge anticipation for the two-and-a-half-hour game drive which normally turned into 3-hour morning drive. We then had another drive from 3:30pm till about 6pm.
In my mind there is nothing more exciting than experiencing time in the bush, because it does not matter how many trips you plan, every time is unique and emotionally touching. I always feel so silly sitting at a sighting trying to wipe away my tears before anyone notices – sniff, sniff!
Our guide, Francis has worked at Mabula for 8 years and he was amazing. The sightings were breathtaking – well I never have the words to explain them. There was an abundance of wildlife, we enjoyed a wide variety of antelope, elephants, lions, cheetah, hippos, jackals, rhinos, buffalo… The only one that eluded us was the leopard.
We spent quite a bit of time with a pride of lions… But every morning it was rather exciting tracking and finding them (I always appreciate the skill the guides have mastered when it comes to reading the signs of the wild – I actually studied to be a game ranger, but life had other plans for me).
Each time we found them I just have to remind myself to live in the moment and take in the wonder of these magnificent creatures – because I tend to get caught up snapping the pics and not experiencing it.
Within the pride is a cub at the moment, so watching the interaction with his mom and the others was just so amazing. He got stuck trying to cross a little stream the one evening and the pride coaxed him and called for him until he had the guts to cross over. Back on the vehicle we just held our breath in anticipation waiting for him to take that giant leap of faith.
We were also very fortunate to spend time with some cheetah, now these males decided it might be fun to investigate the trail horses the one evening, I am not sure what they were thinking! These horses literally formed a straight line and confronted these cheetahs straight on. Well you can imagine who won the battle, but it was truly amazing to witness these horses standing together in a formation and surrounding these boys and basically showing them who was in charge.
The other cheetah sighting got me rather chocked up – a mom and her cubs. It was possibly the best cheetah sighting I had experienced. They were sitting together in the open on the road, my previous sightings have always been with them on the move – so now we could just sit, watch and take it all in.
There is so much I could tell you in terms of the amazing sightings we had, I even got to see my first porcupine… but it will never translate until you are actually living in that moment and experiencing it yourself.
I am blessed that I can share these moments with Wayne, who had no choice when he married me to take on my passion for the bush, which I believe he has become very fond of himself. Of course he has to try and tell me on each drive the best terrain for dirt biking and how he would take on the riverbed, rocks and the thorny trees – included are the various sound effects the bike would make when tackling the obstacles – braaap, woop, woop-woop, not exactly the call of the wild.
General info: Mabula Game Lodge is located two and half hours’ drive from Johannesburg in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province. The landscapes are diverse from grassland plains to rocky outcrops which makes it an ideal habitat for the Big Five, as well as other wildlife. There are also other activities like bush walks and horse trails plus they are involved with the Mabula Ground Hornbill conservation project.