An unexpected stay at Makalali River Lodge.

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I can write anywhere. I write in airports. I write on airplanes. I've written in the back seats of taxis. I write in hotel rooms. I love hotel rooms. I just write wherever I am whenever I need to write. Garrison Keillor(USA author and radio host)

 

One of Travel & Things final pre-lockdown destinations was the Tourvest Guide Academy at Makalai Game Reserve. The image is of the first group of students completing their year-long course under the supervision of a variety of instructors and assessors from EcoTraining. I was there as a freelance content provider for the training organization. Having visited in the latter part of 2019, I was expecting to stay in one of the rooms allocated to visiting media/lecturers, however, I was in for a surprise…

 

There was space available at River Lodge 1 and I was lucky enough to get ‘upgraded’ to accommodation at that camp while spending time interacting with the students.

 

I am used to being housed in tiny accommodation, so I assumed that this is where I was going to be spending the next few nights. I was mistaken, as this is the public toilet near the swimming pool.

 

Two of the satellite camps, separated from the main lodge, are ‘joined’ by this suspension bridge. I have only attempted two other similar bridges. One in Parys and the other in Oudtshoorn, both of which left me feeling somewhat queasy. This one was a pleasure traverse and I crossed, without trepidation, on several occasions.

 

Before I headed off to my room, I took some time to wander around the intimate public areas of the camp. This is part of the seating area alongside the dining room.

 

During the time that I spent there, the weather was not conducive to swimming, but other guests who tried the pool out commented that although the water was refreshing, it was colder than expected.

 

This male Nyala wandered past my verandah. This species, along with Bushbuck are regularly found within the confines of game lodges and camps. It is almost as if they knew that this was a safe space to be in…and that information is seemingly passed down from generation to generation.

 

The exterior of my accommodation. There was a table and two chairs to the left of the front door, while a sunken seating area was situated off to the right. Both looked out over an open space, where several species grazed and foraged for food.

 

Believe it or not, this is how I was able to lock my door. This carved sliding deadbolt has not been mastered by either the monkeys or the baboons.

 

Part traditional game lodge decor, part steampunk interior? A rather eclectic mix of styles that works as a cohesive whole.

 

Yes, there were traditional windows, but this ‘porthole’ caught my attention. It allowed light into a seating area in the bathroom.

 

I have a fascination for thatched ceilings. Often, instead of counting sheep to get to sleep, I will count the poles or the rectangles above my head. Calming and (almost) therapeutic at the same time.

 

The indoor shower on the left, bath straight ahead and an outdoor shower behind the door on the right. As seen from the toilet…

 

A very comfortable bed, sleep-inducing linen and an AC unit that had to work overtime due to the unexpected heat. All this added up to a welcome oasis before and after my time with the students.

 

Pre-drive snacks. The camp serves breakfast, lunch, snacks before and during game drives as well as dinner.

 

What would a game drive be with Amarula for the coffee?

 

Something different on my bedside table when I returned back from a game drive. This elephant is produced specifically for this hotel group by Gala Star in Johannesburg. It is one of a series of 7 animals that arrive at bedtime together with a printed story that can be repurposed as a bookmark. A wonderful memento

 

Another stunning African sunset to watch instead of a repetitive television program. Good night and sweet dreams to all…

 

 

 

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