Last month we introduced you to Pretoria’s friendly neighbour, and it is with great excitement that we share some of our unique experiences in this remarkable part of South Africa.
We decided to share this opportunity with friends and family to attain their independent opinion on what this small town has on offer to us city dwellers. For the fortunate that had their leave approved, the adventures started early on a Thursday morning…for the rest, well, they had to wait till Friday afternoon to join the rest of the group. We realized that our biggest challenge would be to get around and make the most of the large number of activities on offer. We formulated what we thought to be a full proof game plan, where family- and alone time were allocated, consequently allowing the group to enjoy this voyage of exploration to the max.
We arrive early Thursday morning at our lodge on the outskirts of town after a comfortable drive of a mere hour and a bit. Rooms were allocated, supplies were unpacked and the bar fridge stocked, just in case. We moved over to the boma where we were spoiled with an amazing breakfast and we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from a resident bushbuck in search of scraps of our gourmet meal. This set the tone for the weekend and we realized we’ll never be far from nature. The rest of the morning was spend exploring our immediate surrounds and this lead to an unplanned hike at the foothills of the majestic Waterberg. The abundance of game was evident in the well worn game paths which led us to a beautiful piece of water. Andre wasted no time in ripping off his boots and shirt and jumping into the dam, much to the disbelieve of our eager angler friend Pasch. He was convinced that this water, full of humps, dead trees and lilies were home to some lunkers and the reason for him joining us on this trip. To his great disappointment, a no fishing sign was pointed out by me. Being a private reserve, fishing and the collection of any flora was strictly prohibited and the thought of what monsters might lurk was left to our imaginations.
Excited by all the signs of wild life on our hike, the sunset drive was sure not to disappoint, but on arrival at the departure point, we were pleasantly surprised to find our old fashion mode of transport. A Toyota, with 4 wheels and a badge but only 2 horses. The horse cart drive was a huge treat for the kids and quite a far cry from the game viewers they were used to. We spotted masses of game, eland, waterbuck, kudu, impala but to name a view. The proud but stealthy manner in which “Ruiter” and “Witkous” escorted us through the bush allowed us to really get close and personal to the animals and our day concluded with a sundowner next to Pasch’s “Lake Lunkers”.
As the call of a francolin echoes through the valley and the sun’s rays makes an appearance over the hill tops to the east, 2 ardent hunters plan their stalk whilst not too far away a furious fish breaks the water, hooked on Pasch’s passion. Missing out on these privileges, the wives and kids are preparing for a action packed day at Zebula golf estate and spa, but more of that later…
Wondering through a wild seringa forest, the distinctive smell and sounds of a herd of wildebeest grazing sparked Quintin’s predator’s instinct. With the wind in his favour and the sun burning over his right shoulder, success was inevitable. Leaving the rest of the hunting party behind to analyze his approach, he pursued his quarry. Resolute, with precision and caution, he closed the distance, a careful step at a time, pausing ever so often as the herd scan the area for danger. The symphony of bird song and animal life was interrupted by the bark of his trusted .375 and the settling dust cloud revealed a magnificent old bull.
During this time Pasch and Luan devoted their time to unravel the feeding patterns of the resident carp. After trying a few combinations they soon settled on a FX on the top hook, paired with a earthworm on the bottom hook. This combined with boulyn kolletjie feed kept the reels screaming till well after 10 that morning. With the carp of the bite and the water temperature slowly rising, they made several casts on the western shore, trying to fool a bass in taking their lures without any success. This was not due to a lack of effort but rather the cold front that was pulling in. With weather conditions deteriorating they decided to move over to the game farm where the hunters enjoyed the fresh liver from the wildebeest harvested earlier.
While the men were out to conquer nature, the wives opted for much more subtle pleasures. Dropping the kids to enjoy animal interactions such as feeding meerkats, petting lion cubs and learning all there is about snakes and reptiles, they were treated to a herbal hot stone massage and a holistic africology facial treatment. Completely rejuvenated and with exhausted kids they headed back to the lodge where they were met by true fisherman’s tails and Quintin’s in-depth overview on his successful hunt. We on the other hand had to hear how they are worthy of being spoiled more often. Photos of the day’s events were downloaded and stories shared, and when it got to the kids and their animals the chatter didn’t stop. So many things to share but with a limited vocabulary, words like “oulik” and “leeutjies” were repeated in every sentence.
The arrival of the rest of the group Friday evening brought these discussions to an end and we all moved to the boma to warm up next to the fire. The wildebeest of the morning provided us with tender fillets and we washed it down with a nice glass of Merlot. It was a long and exhausting day so we hit the sack fairly early.
At the crack of dawn we were up and ready for another adventure filled day. Getting in a more conventional game viewer we headed out from the lodge and planned a breakfast picnic somewhere secluded under tree tops. We spotted a lot of game but coming around a sharp bend, Christo spotted a leopard feeding under a bush. We were ecstatic! A leopard on a fresh kill, on private land, is something special and a rare sighting to a privileged few. Our day was made and we observed this elusive cat for more than 30 minutes before it disappeared into the undergrowth. From there, the beautiful kudu and eland found it hard to match the leopard and we gave in to hunger. Feasting in the presence of danger was a thrilling experience and certainly beats the local diner down the road.
The afternoon was spend supporting the “Boks” in a cozy pub with some locals. The hospitality, paired with their signature shooter made it hard to leave but with an astrology lesson lined up we had to part. Unfortunately cloud cover set in and we had to leave this for another occasion. Pulled up next to a fireplace, time was passed with stories of nature, laughter and some wine.
We had a remarkable time in this small corner of Africa and yet we left a lot unexplored. The activities are endless to the traveler and is certainly a travel destination of choice.