Pilanesberg. So near, yet so far away…

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“True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings.” ― William Shakespeare

 

 

When life is getting you down and it becomes difficult to find the beauty in the crappiest situation, it is time to head off to the bush… This I was able to do recently and for the first time in 2021. There was joy in our household as the destination was a mere 2.5 hours away

 

 

Being in nature is not always seeking out the iconic Big5, but it is a time for contemplation where looking up at stunning cloud formations can allow us time to dream and forget the day to day drudgery that COVID-19 has caused. The cloud formations over the Pilanesberg are truly some of the most beautiful and varied I have witnessed recently.

 

 

An animal designed by a committee? Horns of a buffalo, face of a horse, slope of a hyena, stripes of a zebra, and the brain of a Guinea fowl. The Blue Wildebeest (Gnu) has all of these attributes.

 

 

Nothing gets the heart racing like a close encounter of the Pachyderm type. This trip provided only one Big5 predator sighting, a lion that appeared on the road after dark and vanished before pictures could be taken.

 

 

The lodge that we stayed at has not changed in the 4 years since my previous visit, but if it ain’t broke, then why fix it? This was the lounge/bar area near the swimming pool. Although there were several guests, we were careful to keep the social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols in place.

 

 

Early morning, pre-game-drive. This would normally be bustling with people and field guides, but the pandemic has put paid to the early morning ‘rituals’ with guests trying to get coffee and a rusk as well as keeping their distance from each other.

 

 

The shadow of the outdoor shower attracted my attention before I stepped in to wash away the dust after returning from a drive.

 

 

And the cherry on top? Getting to spend a non-working weekend with my wife in beautiful surroundings. Meeting new and interesting people and hopefully forming the beginnings of new friendships. (And this sorbet that was served at lunch)

 

 

 

This giraffe had us scratching our heads as we thought that it was lying down. Turns out it was walking along a pathway that was hidden by the long grass, thus giving us the totally incorrect impression of its mobility.

 

 

A Black-capped Bulbul…one of my favourite bird species. I find them in our garden at home and I am kept amused for hours by their antics.

 

 

A Speckled Pigeon near the rebuilt birding hide at Mankwe Dam. Always a great place to spot a variety of species. The recent rains have filled the dam to capacity and both the wildlife and the birds are making the most of the abundance of water.

 

 

A sunset on our final night in the bush.

 

 

A candle-lit dinner in the middle of the bush…a perfect ending to a well-deserved break.

 

 

 

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