If I thought that I was having a bad week, one look at this lion cub lying between to old elephant droppings made me think again. With a tummy too full after sharing the spoils of an Impala kill, this youngster decided that lying in the crap was easier than moving. Luckily, I have NOT felt that way this week, but have worked hard at being positive and proactive. Could the fact that I am once again allowed to travel for leisure(business) purposes have something to do with that sense of euphoria? And the fact that I have just realized that as a travel writer, business and pleasure are in fact one and the same! And it only took me 6 months to figure that out.
My wife and I started off the week by celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary at Safari Plains. I had visited this camp back at the beginning of 2019 and I was keen to share my memories of the property with my wife. And I was not disappointed. The old adage’ If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ certainly applies here and the visit lived up to my previous experience. Of course, there are COVID-19 safety precautions and protocols in place, but that is par for the post-pandemic lockdown rules and regulations and guests should be grateful that Safari Plains is going to lengths to make certain that guests arrive and leave safe and healthy. Being only a 2.5-hour drive from Johannesburg, it makes the drive easy and manageable. We were just glad to be getting back to the bush and travelling without the need for a permit and the possibility of being stopped in a roadblock did make the entire experience enjoyable.
It was to be a full week of travel and not having been on the road for longer than 2.5 hours in the past several months, the 6-hour drive to our final destination was not what I was looking forward to. Hence, I decided to break it in Lydenburg at a guest-house that I chose off the internet. And what a choice it turned out to be…Not only were the owners Francis and her fiancee Barney gracious hosts, but it also turned out that actor Ian Roberts lives on the property. He and I had not seen each other for the longest while, so there was LOTS of catching up to do. After an enjoyable dinner and early breakfast, it was back on the road and heading towards the thriving metropolis of Hoedspruit. Anton Goosen and Radio Kalahari Orkes playing in the car and making certain that I remained within the speed limits saw the km’s fly by. In Hoedspruit, we turned left along the R40 towards our ultimate destination, the Balule Private Nature Reserve, and Naledi Game Lodge where we were going to be spending 3 nights.
Our sojourn here was thanks to owner Kjell. The lodge is singularly one of the best that we have stayed in. And it is certainly the highpoint of 2020 so far! This is certainly the property that broke the mental aspect of lockdown and blew out all the cobwebs and negative thoughts that have assailed me since April. It was here at Naledi (meaning STAR in Sotho) that I believe the final decision about the continuance of the Wednesday COVID-19 posting was decided. Thanks to the positive and friendly attitude of the staff that we interacted with, I can finally see that the dark clouds might be lifting.
That is not to say we can become complacent, in fact, we need to be even more vigilant as our country re-opens to travel and that social interactions begin again. Distancing, masks and hand-washing will be a part of my life for the foreseeable future and even though I miss the physical contact, hugging and hand-shakes are not going to take place any time soon.
And unlike the accommodation in both Lydenburg and Dullstroom, we were at Naledi to enjoy game drives as well as to relax and unwind after the past 6 months of COVID-19 lockdown. And thanks to our guide and tracker we were able to do exactly that. With sighting varying from a harmless Spotted Bush Snake in camp to a leopard, with its kill, in a tree being harassed by several hyena. One of the highlights was having sundowner drinks on the banks of the Oliphants River while a breeding herd of about 50 elephants wandered past.
And finally, before heading back along the highway to Johannesburg, a night Dream Catcher Cottage, Dullstroom. Like our accommodation in Lydenburg, this too was chosen off the internet. And what a find it turned out to be. We have never stayed in Dullstroom before, so we have a short window of opportunity to explore the town before enjoying an early dinner and a good nights rest before heading home after breakfast tomorrow.
There will be full postings published on all the accommodation that we stayed in once images have been edited and storylines have been constructed. Look out for exciting new content over the coming weeks.
In the most recent instalment of “My Fellow South Africans“, we, the citizens were informed that a cautious Level 1 will be instituted, opening the way for even more activities and even limited international tourism. But, and there is always a but, a 00h00-04h00 curfew is STILL in place. This week saw my wife and I celebrate 13th years of marriage. We have had our ups and downs, for no relationship is perfect. We have supported each other and have overcome what 2020 has delivered to date. All of the challenges in our previous 12 years paled into insignificance and this year ain’t over yet. We will continue to be supportive and to make the best out of each situation that 2020 has thrust in our direction. That being said, the anti-maskers are still very much in evidence, bleating that their Constitutional Rights are being infringed. I wonder if those who complain the most obey any of the other laws that are in place to save lives, like wearing seatbelts. If YOU are one of those, then I would rather NOT be in your company as I do not wish to place either myself or those that I love in danger. And I ask that I be respected for my decisions.
Until next time stay safe, stay healthy and be aware.
South African Depression and Anxiety Group.
011 234 4837
LifeLine Connect number.
011 728 1347
I end this series with this thought. I believe that despite or in spite of the pandemic and the consequences of COVID-19, we should all try to be kinder to ourselves and each other.
“Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
We are all in “the line” without knowing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line –
Make moments count.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.”