One of the most enjoyable parts of any visit to Mabula Game Lodge is the evenings spent around a blazing campfire. No matter what the weather, the hypnotic effect of the flames as they crackle and shoot sparks skywards allowing both guests and staff to relax and share time together. It could be before a buffet dinner or just drinks after a meal, but the Mabula hospitality shines as brightly as the flames. This aspect of a visit is often remembered as one of the highlights that guests get to enjoy. Much like fishing stories, where the fish gets longer and heavier in the telling, the stories shared here can become legendary tales that are repeated around other fires in years to come.
Guests that visit Mabula regularly have their favourite animal interactions that they will share with staff as well as guests. And in a similar vein, guides are often asked to share their stories. Marguerite had some words of wisdom when it came to self-doubt and the fact that no sightings are never guaranteed. You can leave the lodge hoping to find a predator species and end up with an animal that you never expected to find.
Time, as we usually measure it, is unimportant in the bush and thus it is the perfect time to slow down and focus on what can be viewed from the vehicle rather than worry about what is going on outside of the confines of the reserve.
By sharing these two incidents with guests, Marguerite brought that home to everyone who was listening.
Game drives are frequently brought to a halt because guests think that they have seen a rhino, which turns out to be a rock or a lion which is actually a termite mound.
Marguerite is one of several female guides at Mabula Game Lodge and although she has only been guiding for 3 years, the stories that she shared are indicative of what guides get to experience and why guests come to the bush regularly.
Told with honesty, her stories brought a disparate group together and united them in not only the warmth of the fire but in their combined love of the bush and all the animals that are there to be enjoyed.
“I was returning from an afternoon walk with fellow guides and we were so focused on our day and what we had learned that none of us were looking around or paying attention to what we were passing. I noticed what I thought was a piece of black pipe partially buried in the soil and I asked the instructor about the history of the property. He started explaining about previous farmlands when all of a sudden, the ‘pipe’ started moving.”
Suddenly there was tension around the fire as Marguerit’s story-telling is just one of her strengths. And her timing was perfect.
“And what was it? Something that many people take a lifetime to see, the pipe turned out to be a Pangolin”.
Mabula Game Lodge guides have the requirements of their guests as a priority and after the safety briefing before a drive, they will always ask if there is anything special that the group on the vehicle would like to see. This particular incident occurred when guests had specifically requested to see lions.
“When looking for animals that can be really difficult to find anything and everything starts to look like that animal. There was quiet chatter on the vehicle from those who thought they saw what might have been the flick of a lions tail or an ear moving. We sat and looked at one bush for approximately 10min and did not see any movements, so one of the guests stood up to try and get a better look. It was at this point that two lionesses, that we had not seen, came charging out. Needless to say, the guest sat down very quickly and when the dust settled, there was a lot of nervous laughter in the vehicle”.
Nature teaches us to be present and be in the moment. And time at Mabula Game Lodge will allow guests to do just that as well as sharing those moments with others around the fire at the end of an exciting day.
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