It feels like an eternity since I’ve closed my laptop, packed up my stuff and took the 12-hours flight to the destination I’ve been dreaming of in a long time.
Since I can remember, I’ve always wished for a safari adventure. And this year, it finally came true when we decided to leave the annual winter wonderland out and head (heavily) south – to South Africa!
Breaking the pattern of going to Zürs on the Arlberg in Austria after 20 years feels quite unusual but at the same time so exciting if you know that there’s something completely new awaiting you for Christmas and New Year’s.
And so, I found myself on African soil in Johannesburg last Sunday, got picked up and experienced a bumpy 5 hours drive through the wilderness up to the north of the country, straight at the borders of Botswana.
We could have taken the mini plane, which takes just an hour but no, packing our stuff from our luggage to SOFTBAGS and leave the luggage at Johannesburg airport was no satisfying, safe alternative. Normal people would argue that they’re scared to take such a mini plane at which you don’t know the pilot or anyone else but abnormal people like us worry more about the heaviness of their clothes ;)
Despite the fact that SA is currently blooming thanks to in-between-rains and summer time, I was just astonished by the nature as we drove north; vegetation differs and shows already Kalahari-like characteristics.
After leaving civilization behind (you really feel like Jurassic Park with that huge gate that warns you of snakes and other animals and asks for a full registration before the gate even opens), I was told that „chances are high to spot an Impala“ as the first animal. Ironically, it wasn’t. It was Pumba the warthog greeting us and looking at us with that view that only meant „What in God’s name is that over there“.
It wasn’t too long until the first Zebras started checking out what that white car was actually doing on the „unprepared“ road but then found confidence quickly as Mr. Elephant was showing up in the bigger picture few meters further.
Can you actually believe that all of this happened within 15 minutes of only entering the reserve? I really felt like a little child oh-ing and ah-ing the drive to the lodge.
And talking about the lodge; it’s simply beautiful.
We decided to stay at the Madikwe Safari Lodge, Lelapa, which greeted us warmly with refreshing lemonades upon our arrival in midst of the hot day.
In a very well fitting way, Madikwe Safari Lodge molds beautifully into the bush but also surprises with an understated and pretty colonial style.
A perfect mix of local influences, contemporary sense, comfort and an overall inviting atmosphere.
Bungalows are huge and all of them have a beautiful terrace, which not only fits the untouched surrounding environment very well but also offers a private little plunge pool.
The perfect thing after coming back from safari tours and breakfast.
The service was exceptionally kind, the management really did its best (a huge thank you to Elaine and the rest of the team!) to serve us as well as possible and thanks to our Ranger, Martin, we were able to spot the most amazing animals and had the greatest experience.
Food is served almost around the clock (in between you will catch up with sleeping anyways as those game drives can become so exciting that you just need a little snooze) and differs from day to day; something I really appreciate if eating is next to relaxing, game viewing and sleeping one of the “only” things you mainly do.
So how does a day at Madikwe Safari lodge look like? Well, besides from the fact that you don’t dress in your huge Moncler jacket and skiing trousers and go off to the pists for the whole day, everything is completely different here.
You get (if you ask for it) a wake up call at around 5.00 in the morning, you get dressed, drink tea quickly (and witness the sunrise as above ;)) and off you go for the first 3-hours game viewing.
As hard as it may sound; it’s the absolute best thing! You quickly adopt the rhythm (which also means that you fall asleep at 10.00 in the evening… like a baby) and you start making a little bucket list on „what to spot today“.
Same procedure happens again at 4-5 in the afternoon and you return at around 7-8, just in time for dinner.
I’m feeling extremely relaxed and happy right now. This trip is definitely something to be remembered; I can feel it! ;)
Oh and what about the Christmas-spirit? I’m happy to say that I haven’t felt so far away from the big tam-tam in a very long time. This was the most unusual and uncomplicated Christmas-party ever although I heavily missed two people in particular!
I will leave you with these impressions and hope that Santa comes back to leave a fitting digital cam USB cable with me so that I can upload the pictures of my game drives with all the animals we’ve seen.
Hope you had some content, satisfying and delicious past days with whoever you chose to be with! :)
Stay tuned for lots and lots to come!
Looking at Impala tracks
Did you think I’d give up on “outfit” posts just because I’m in the bush and I shouldn’t care less?!
…Of course not! I mostly wore different combos of camouflage patterns and natural colours to not irritate the animals.
White rhino grazing in front of us
A little stop-over in the late afternoon for drinks and snacks.
Our ranger Martin, well equipped and always caring!
Elephant ladies showed us what they thought of our little disturbance
Zebra crossing ;)