Our time, mine and my wife Melanies, when in KwaZulu-Natal is split between catching up with family & friends and exploring new places. After our travels there are write ups and reviews to be done. So when we found a few spare days on our last visit what did we do? Obviously, we made plans to spend a few days at a private game reserve. To some this might seem like a busman’s holiday but to us it was a no-brainer. Our nearest private game reserve is Nambiti and as our in-laws, Callum & Jenny, had offered to make all the arrangements, and travel with us, we left the choice of lodge up to them.
This was to be just a short break with no thoughts of writing or taking photographs for SafariKZN. But how can you have such a special time without wanting to tell people? Maybe knowing there would be no assembling of words and pictures following this trip helped me relax? On reflection I do not think so. You cannot fail to relax with good company in great surroundings.
Callum & Jenny had chosen Springbok Lodge for us, a place we had all been to before. It had been a long time time since Melanie & I had stayed here, eight years to be precise. Being somewhere for a few days rather a whistle-stop stay over makes a huge difference.
I have read the term glamping associated with Springbok Lodge. This for me though does not do the lodge justice. The only thing you can loosely associate here with camping is that you sleep under canvas. Our rooms were as we remembered them from our last stay, warm and spacious with en-suite, but both were newly constructed. We were a short walk from the main lodge, slightly elevated, with views across the reserve and upwards into the Milky Way.
We spent our time in the day, between game drives, sitting, sometimes laying, but always relaxing in the warm winter sunshine. We treated ourselves to pre-lunch liquid refreshments, beers for the boys and gin & tonics for ladies. We ate lunch on the sun drenched verandah of the lodge. Lunch provided tough choices: Meatballs, ribs, charcuterie, freshly baked breads, salads with butternut squash, tomatoes and feta cheese. All accompanied with smiles and laughter from the lodge staff.
Dinner was served both inside and outside over the duration of our stay. Inside there was an a la carte menu. My rack of lamb was very good and was served with seasonal vegetables. The food highlight for us was dinner served outside in the boma area. All of the guests sat around a roaring fire under a star lit sky. The buffet style feast had local specialities, served in black cast iron potjies pots, including putu, samp & beans, venison and oxtail stews. There was also plenty of choice for the vegetarians. This was real winter food to keep the cold at bay.
Our guide for the stay was Mike Roy. A man with a wealth of knowledge and passion for the outdoors. He is also someone partial to a busmans holiday, spending his spare time driving the dirt roads of game reserves around South Africa. He also came fully equipped with patience and a good sense of humour. His hosting skills were excellent keeping us refreshed and entertained at morning tea and sundowner stops.
During our drives we had many excellent sightings. Several times, in both daylight and darkness, we encountered lions. A very close encounter with an elusive cheetah was a huge thrill. We became part of a herd buffalo totalling around fifty animals. We passed elephants of all ages and got up close and personal with one huge sixty year old bull. Hippos were comfortable on land and in the water. Plains game were abundant, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra and eland. We came across impala and kudu grazing and browsing together. As the impala rams began to rut one female kudu casually looked on, much like us, but she was enjoying sucking on a bone. Mike explained this was a common practice amongst some herbivorous. Animals suck and chew on bones to supplement their diet with nutrients such as calcium and phosphorous. It is a practice known as osteophagy.
Happy Days and the next safari, journey, adventure or busman’s holiday, call it what you want, is already in the planning. A big thank you to Callum & Jenny for making the plans and to all the staff at Springbok Lodge for looking after us.