On our second day at Gondwana Game Reserve we were up bright and early for a very fresh start… this time our amazing guide came prepared with the usual blankets but also ponchos and even hot water bottles to ward off the cold. They made all the difference!
After a quick bite to eat, we hit the dirt road hoping for some awesome early morning sightings… and pretty soon we’d racked up a long list including impala, springbok, waterbuck, wildebeest, red hartebeest, zebra and even a secretary bird surveying the lay of the land from it’s perch in a bush!
After a busy morning game drive we were all famished and made quick work of the beautiful buffet breakfast…
Gondwana is known as a great family friendly safari destination and so half way through the morning all the parents congregated at the main lodge area to send off their small people on a Junior Ranger adventure with 2 of the rangers. The excitement was high (kids) as were the nerves (parents) as they all piled into the back of the 4×4 vehicle armed with their awesome adventure packs. I sent Ben off with my cell phone intructing him to take photos of their experience, and to look after his little sister of course! As the truck drove away you could sense the excitment levels of the parents rise… at the thought of some time out. We raced back to enjoy some peaceful reading and relaxing time in our haven of a room.
About 90 minutes later we got a call from reception to say the kids were back so we headed up to the lodge to find out more about their adventure. And they had a blast. Doing a treasure hunt. Picking fynbos, Even seeing a hippo on foot! All through lunch the stories kept coming. It was such fun seeing revel in bush life!
Having enjoyed a few chapters of my book while the kids were out, I was in a hurry to head back to bed and get lost in the pages again, warming myself with the electric blanket while casting my eyes over the view beyond my bed every few minutes so we did just that in the bit of down time we had between lunch and high tea…
As you may have realised by now safari holidays are as much about the food as they are about the animals. Your day pretty much revolves around eating and sighting with a little bit of snoozing in between if you’re lucky! The day starts with rusks and tea, then some snacks midway through the game drive like a muffin to tide you over, then a buffet breakfast along with a hot breakfast option. A three course lunch is served around 1pm and then it’s time for high tea at 3:30 followed by snacks and sundowners at 6ish and then another drink on your return to the lodge followed by your main meal (again 3 courses) at 7:30 or 8. Whew. It’s a wonder you have time to do any relaxing at all! But I was determined. Part of being on holiday is taking the time to unwind and I rarely read so this was a real treat!
It was a good thing I took some time to rest because our second evening game drive at Gondwana was to be jam-packed with amazing sightings. It started simply enough with a striking zebra crossing our path and then ramped up when the “rocks” in the distance began to more… turning out to be rhinos!!
Now I’m sure you are all aware about the massive poaching problem South Africa seems to be fighting when it comes to rhino’s. These magnificent creatures are fighting, not only their lives but to keep their names off the extinction list. So what a wonder it was to sit silently and watch them manoeuvre their massive bodies around while peacefully feeding on the grass and not even blinking in our direction. We didn’t want to leave and lingered as long as we could without making them uncomfortable.
The good news is that Gondwana takes the protection of their rhino very seriously and we were pleased to hear that they are monitoring the movements of the rhino constantly as well as those of unexpected “visitors” to the area.
Behold the beauty of this magnificent creatures and tell me WHY anyone would be included to kill them for something as insignificant as money?? Absolutely heartbreaking….
Our incredible sightings were not to end there for the evening, once again we were treated to a lion sighting. This time a lioness and her black-maned mate lollying around on a little hill, lifting their heads only occasionally. We spent a good while just watching them, hoping to spot a cub or two returning to their parents but not getting so lucky! These lions were feeling lazy and not in the mood for any sort of display on our behalf.
On our way to find a safe sundowner spot, we “spotted” a few giraffe enjoying their own snacks at sunset… and I was really pleased with the way my photos came out, even capturing the giraffe’s breath in the cool evening air!
The beauty of spending so much time out in nature is that you are so much more aware of the daily beauty unfolding around you and actually have the time to take it all in… Spending some quiet time reflecting on the day, and life in general, while watching the sun sink behind the mountains and the sky turn all shades of pink is pretty much the perfect way to end a day and so we did, from the back of a safari vehicle!
And just because we hadn’t been blessed enough we had one more surprise in store… a caracal crept out of the darkness and darted across our path – out on the hunt for his own supper as we headed back for ours! What a day of great game-viewing at Gondwana. We couldn’t have had a better one.
Taking your first family safari? Read these tips on how to help kids enjoy their safari holiday.