I first heard about this lovely lodge on Jejane Private Nature Reserve“up towards the Olifants River area” way back last century. Now at last I got to visit thanks to Carl and Mandy, co-owners with four other families – all farmers around Harrismith and Bergville.
It was everything I’d imagined and more; we had a lovely stay with game drives, lots of laughter, great meals, lots of beer, sunshine, lots of rain. Carl and I were on our best behaviour as we were outnumbered, Mandy having brought in three young lasses from her distant past to stand by her. They cheekily nominated me Airfryer Fundi, pretending they didn’t know what to do with the machine; so I pushed, pulled and stroked various knobs so they could cook dinner.
The rain was lovely – not as hectic as in the Kruger Park next door. Dams and pans that were mud puddles filled rapidly and overflowed. Streams rushed all over, threatening road crossings, but the level would soon drop and the roads remained good as the water soaked into the sand.
Zena said We must go to Kruger, my man Martin is a fabulous guide. I said Let’s Go!, and when August rolled round there we were, chilling in the mopane woodlands around Mopani Rest Camp in the famous Kruger National Park, drinking gin and tonic, gazing out over Pioneer dam from our under-thatch bird-watching stoep.
Martin runs Laughing Hyena Safaris, and his experienced Kruger Park nose soon led us to great sightings – big ones, feathered ones and little ones too.
Suddenly! We spotted some spots in the mopane shadows! With great skill we tracked the shadowy spots through the dappled sun and shade of the mopane woodland. What could it be?
Hey, it was! It was a . . a . . leopard! Kruger’s holy grail. With great tracking skill, we had found it:
. . . ‘course, we actually found it the traditional Kruger Park way:
To celebrate we had lots more gin & tonic, which improved our sightings even more:
A keen photographer and Canon ambassador, Martin aimed his long lens out the window and later let us have some of his pics:
. . and he made us a video:
and he taught us a new bird species: the Burchell’s Poupol
I gave a talk in the Kruger Park once called The Art of the Game Drive. It was magnificent, complete with exciting sightings and livestreaming. Pity was, I had an unappreciative audience. Well, they were from behind the boerewors curtain, so . . you know how they are.
It almost sounded like they had a pet monkey with them, as they kept muttering Ari Aap as I drove them serenely in quiet splendour and exquisite comfort in my VW Kombi 2,1 in subtle camouflage blue and white. But you won’t believe this, when I stopped to examine old poo there was audible sighing. Philistines. The talks are still wildly popular* but I notice none of that particular batch were ever repeat guests. And I mainly have repeat guests.
*Jessie has been a repeat guest dozens – scores – of times. She can appreciate the Art of the Game Drive. Specially if she has her phone, her music and noise-cancelling earphones with her.