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Excited but scared about Game Reserve!!!!

Flew on South African Airways on a VERY small plane for the 1 hour flight to Hoedspruit. Was a bit bumpy & scary, & flew over some impressive canyon scenery. Airport was 1 tiny little building & the luggage was delivered off a trolley outside.

We were picked up with this family of 4 from the USA in a van for the 1 hour drive to Pondoro.

It is privately owned reserve which backs on to Kruger National Park & has no fences. As soon as we turned off the main road onto the dirt road we started to see animals;

Vervet monkeys

Impala

Kudu

Elephants

Giraffe

Much excitement each time we spoted one!.

We arrived at Pondera which is a beautiful natural rustic African type resort & only has 14 guests at a time. We arrived at reception where we had to sign forms releasing them from any blame if we we were injured or died!!!!

We were given a lemon welcome drink & taken to our room which is about 5 minute walk along a noisy gravel path. ( noisy I am hoping to scare the animals away!!) We are allowed to walk alone during the day but not at night. All food is included & is gourmet -only drinks need to be paid for. Room shave to have dews closed onto the balcony's when not there so the monkeys don't come in & cause havoc

We arrived at our bure which is just stunning with a high pitched thatched roof, polished concrete floor, open plan with a lounge, bed with a massive mossie net over it & open plan bathroom That all looks out onto our balcony. where we can view the Olifant River from. Sittting hear we could dear the sound of a hippo bellowing in the river !!! You can have an outside hot shower on the balcony as well & no-on can see you from the other rooms

We discovered elephant poo at our front door & all around the back balcony & trampled bushes & found out they had been around our room the night before !!! Hope they come while we are there!!!

Also discovered that lions had walked around the bure next to Mark & Leigh's.There is a set programe everyday which you can choose to join in on whatever you choose.

515am Wake up knock on your door 5.45am Tea, coffee & Rusks 6am - 9am Safari 9am Breakfast 10.30am Walk with tracker 1pm Lunch 3pm Afternoon Tea 3.30 - 7.30pm Safair 8pm Dinner We met back at 3pm for afternoon tea & to go ou on the afternoon safari. We awere in an open sided vehicle with no top with 4 other people. Leigh , Brad & i all sat in the back seat which sigher than the others & mean soy can get 360 degree views

You go out each afternoon at this time & return at 7.30pm.

It was really hot today & reached 29 degrees so needed a hat in the afternoon. It wasn't even that cold after the sun set.

We drove around on dirt & sand tracks & sometimes bush bashing while the tracker & driver tried to find animals & were looking for fresh tracks to follow. At one stage the tracker was let off with just his walkie talkie & he left the gun in the car to go off in search of where the lions may be. He was gone for about an hour & we ewre so worried he would get eaten as the sun was setting & this is feeding time!!!.

The firrt big animal we saw was a pair of male elephants & we got to be so close to it ( probe 3 metres) . He was about 25 years old & was hanging out with a bachelor herd as they don’t start mating till they are about 30 years & then have to take on a dominant male to fight for their turn at that position. African elephants are way bigger than asian elephants & have massive ears, which they flap if they start getting upset at your presence. They knock down massive trees o get to the bark & roots & bark & you just hear this loud crack as they push over a tree. No worries at all!!

Next we saw 5 giraffes – amazing & beautiful animals. All the animals camouflage so well & you only spot them if they move even if they are pretty close to you.

The African bush is very scrubby & as it is winter it is quite brown & most trees have no leaves. Most river beds are dry and there are a fw waterholes with water in.

We stopped for drinks & nibbles as we watched a beautiful sunset and this bright red sun ball sink into the bare tress tops. Stunning!!!

Once it got dark he tracker bought out the big spotlight to look for eyes as we continued to drive around. We didn’t see anything much – dome antelope & a rare deer that they hadn’t seen for a few years. Even though we didn’t see many animals it was just so special driving around at night, with thousands of bright stars in the sky & the sound of silence. As the sun was setting we heard lions roar which they estimated were 4 - 5 k from us. Such an eerie sound!!! Also heard but didn’t see hyenas.

We arrive back to be greeted with wet towels to wipe our hands & faces, a sherry & then down to the lodge for a gourmet 3 course meal. The tablesall set up on the balcony looked stunning with fires everywhere around them in brasseries & an open fire pit. Dinner was a soup, Ostrich steaks & cous cous ( Meat was so tender ) & then chocolate & rum cake with cream. Sooo much food!!

We all walked back together with a tracker who dropped us all off at our rooms. Was an eerie feeling walking in the dark hoping a lion didn’t walk out I the dark!!! In our absence our bed had been turned down, mossie net dropped & nougat left on our beds. Perfect!!!

Expected temperature also left on our bed for tomorrow – 1 – 16 degrees ( much colder than today). Tucked in , lights off & it was sooo dark. No animal noises to be heard by me during the night!! Love this place!!!

Small plane to Hoedspruit

Small plane to Hoedspruit


Wheel done ready for landing !!

Wheel done ready for landing !!


The team getting off

The team getting off


Leigh going mad at me again !!!

Leigh going mad at me again !!!


Leigh & I

Leigh & I


Zebra just inside the park

Zebra just inside the park


Kudu

Kudu


First giraffe standing in the middle of the road

First giraffe standing in the middle of the road


Our room - Rock

Our room - Rock


Bed

Bed


Lounge & bed

Lounge & bed


Balcony

Balcony


View to River

View to River


Staff on balcony

Staff on balcony


Lodge eating & relaxing area

Lodge eating & relaxing area


Outside of our room

Outside of our room


Brad & I on safari

Brad & I on safari


Our vehicle with tracker sitting out the front

Our vehicle with tracker sitting out the front


Our first elephant

Our first elephant


Brad & elephant

Brad & elephant


Checking us out

Checking us out


So close!!

So close!!


You can see how close he was to Brad

You can see how close he was to Brad


Sunset time

Sunset time


Giraffe

Giraffe


Tree Squirrel

Tree Squirrel


Beautiful African Sunset

Beautiful African Sunset


Our room made all ready for bed on our return

Our room made all ready for bed on our return


Leigh & I  on safari

Leigh & I on safari


Elephant so very close!!!

Elephant so very close!!!


Sunset snack time

Sunset snack time

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in South Africa

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