Going on safari was truly amazing. We stayed for 3 nights at Nzumba Lodge which is part of the Klaserie Nature Reserve and located in Greater Kruger National Park. Everything about the accommodation was exceptional. It is very private, you have to drive for over an hour into the bush to even arrive at the camp, but that just adds to the glamorous feel of the entire experience.
The main lodge is beautiful.
There is a water hole directly in front of the lodge and we saw 2 of the big five (Elephants and Rhinos) plus other animals without even leaving the property!
The bedrooms were actually private cottages separate from the main lodge.
Upon arrival, we were served high tea (which is pretty much a late extra-large lunch) while the manager (Esti) talked to us about how to be safe on the property. There is an electric wire that runs around the property which serves to deter elephants, however all of the other animals (lions, leopards, etc) can, and do, come onto the premises. It was very scary to think about because we had two small children with us and so we were constantly aware of our surroundings. If you didn’t feel safe, the guides were more than happy to escort you to your room in the evening when it was dark and not as easy to see. The thing to take away from the safety lecture is- if you see a lion, do not run. Back away slowly into the nearest room. 🙂
They also lectured us about how elephants are very temperamental. Our guide, Pieter, explained that when we spot elephants we need to check with him before we snap photographs because the slightest thing can set them off and into a charge. As it turns out, that lecture was very important. About 15 minutes into our first game drive we saw a group of elephants. Our guide followed them down a narrow road and suddenly one of them turned, without any warning, head down, and in a full speed charge. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. Our guide put it in reverse and drove as fast as he could out of danger. At one point the tracker (who sits on the front of vehicle) could have reached out his arm and touched the elephant. Once there was a bit of distance between us and the charging elephant (not enough for me to feel comfortable) our guide started driving the vehicle forwards to have a standoff with the elephant. Finally the elephant calmed down and we stared at each other for a few minutes and she turned around and walked away. The guide was shocked that she didn’t give any warning at all. Elizabeth and I were the most traumatized by the experience and every time we went down a narrow path we were afraid of getting in the way of another angry elephant. Fortunately, we saw many other elephants without the drama. When we went on a bush walk a few days later we saw the tracks our vehicle made in the terrain during our get away. 🙂
The daily schedule on safari is roughly as follows. During our stay we went on two game drives per day. Once around 5 in the morning and another around 5 in the afternoon. They last a few hours and you get a break during the middle of each drive for coffee and rusks in the morning or snacks and sun downers in the evening. After the morning drive we were treated to a full cold and hot breakfast (the food is amazing!), then we would shower and relax until high tea, around 3pm (again incredible food). We had the evening game drive and came back for dinner (YUM!!!) at 8pm.
Nzumba was amazing- they did not feed us in the same location once. The very last night we had a braii in the boma and it was absolutely beautiful.
Everyone is so accommodating that Pieter even treated us to a dried impala poop spitting contest demonstration when I asked him about it.
We saw 3 of the big 5: elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. We tracked lions on foot one day but never could find them. The leopard evaded us entirely. We saw lots of other game and Pieter was very knowledgeable about everything. We learned about birds, wilderness survival, bugs, snakes, spiders, and plants in addition to the animals. The camp is very private so the guides and trackers have to be very knowledgeable in order to locate the animals. It was fascinating to watch.
Going on safari was one of the best experiences of my life. I would recommend Nzumba lodge in Klaserie to anyone. The service, the food, the entire experience was phenomenal. Elizabeth is still planning a guest blog post about the experience. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the South African sunrise:
Love from South Africa! xoxoxo