Monday, June 15, 2009

Safari- Take 3 (eh...)

This past weekend the Wife and I set off alone for our last safari trip. We had decided to stay in Jo'burg Friday night instead of driving in the dark to Pilanesburg. After sleeping in a bit we made our way and arrived at our lodge in time for a late lunch on Saturday afternoon. The lodge was supposed to be one of the nicest in Pilanesburg and it was true our little cottage was much better than our room at Bakubung a few weeks ago. The lodge also promised more attention to the guests and ensured that we would have the same game driver for the length of our stay so they could customize our drives and maximize our game viewing.

Our driver was Paul, a very nice young guy who just happened to be maybe the worst game driver in the history of man...or at least in our history of game drivers. With only staying one night we only had 2 game drives and as stated before they would both be with Paul :(

You drive slowly on game drives so you have time to scour the area for animals. Paul drove about half the speed of everyone else though, even when we were in areas that he assured us no animals would be because the grass was too high and not nutritional for them to eat. Paul also found it necessary to stop and turn off the vehicle for every single animal. Not a problem, except when the animal is a common antelope or wildebeest so far off you can barely see them all while you watch the giraffe and elephants in the distance making their way from the roadside to the hills.

I was annoyed with his style from the beginning but when he got word over the radio that a cheetah had been spotted with a large kill and Paul suggested we go see the elephant instead because he didn't like "racing around to see animals" I knew our last safaris weren't to be our best.

I've said on here before that safari is a matter of chance. You may or may not see anything but when you have a driver that doesn't make any effort to see what others are already seeing you're chances go way down.

We did see the elephants and got lucky enough to happen upon some giraffes and zebras.

On our way back to the lodge a male lion came out of the bush right in front of the car. We followed him for a while but he was busy marking his territories after the rains so we went back for dinner.

At Ivory Tree you eat at large tables with your game driver and the rest of your game drive party. Outside of the game drive Paul was a nice enough guy and we enjoyed talking to the others during dinner. It was another early night though because we were to leave for our last drive at sunrise.

I had low expectations but had hoped we'd at least see the cheetah since Paul assured us that "it would still be there tomorrow". Of course, it was not. We had a very slow morning and got to see little more than a few antelope, a couple of zebras and some hippos swimming. We came back, ate a quick brunch and headed back to Joburg to do some shopping at the African Market next to our hotel.

I know it is ridiculous for us to expect every single weekend to be AMAZING. We had just really hoped for a nice last safari experience in South Africa. But, we still saw some great animals and enjoyed spending a weekend with just one another.

Next weekend we head to the wine country to finally celebrate our anniversary. Can't wait!

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