Jane on an escorted self drive in northern South Africa – April, 2014
I was certainly ready for my own safari. This time it was holiday not a hectic schedule of camp inspections. Six of us travelled by car in South Africa before crossing the Limpopo River into Botswana, then looping back down to Johannesburg.
We were soon to discover that the dirt roads in the Waterberg region had taken a hammering with the unseasonal rain in the past few weeks. I don’t advise clients that a GPS is necessary – “it’s so easy to navigate”. This time we did have one on board. Useful? So long as you don’t take every bumpy short-cut that it kept trying to suggest! We eventually made it to Leobo Lodge which is a good starting venue for large groups or families who want a spacious place to themselves ahead of their safari.
The next seven days for me was spent in the saddle at Limpopo Horse Safaris. My travelling companions went their different ways, one couple birding, the others concentrating on photography. For the riding, you need to be confident and riding-fit as you are in saddle every day for five hours plus. This was my fifth time back with Limpopo and we weren’t disappointed with the quality of the horses, nor the pace of the ride. Did it live up to expectations? Without doubt it did and I shall be looking for an excuse to ride there again at the earliest opportunity. Best of all was the game-viewing, and the renowned Mashatu elephants performed for us every day, including a surprise charge from behind a bush in the first twenty minutes of our first ride. My back-ache disappeared – was it the amount of riding or was it the amount of champagne that flowed as between us we celebrated a 50th birthday and a 10th wedding anniversary?
The Mashatu Reserve not only has good elephant and excellent cat sightings but the scenery is very varied – savannah, riverine forests, marshland and the sandstone outcrops in the west all add to the experience. Another highlight for me was our three-night walking trail – the Motloutse Trail. The Motloutse River is famous for being the where diamonds were first discovered in Botswana. As I paddled through, I searched hard but found none. We stayedin simple camps and enjoyed the beautiful views from the tops of the sandstone hills. At the summit of Eagle Rock, the two resident black Verreaux’s eagle hovered above our heads, literally 10 foot away. “Where are your cameras?”, called Johannas the tracker. We were too busy enjoying the magical moment.
How to end a safari as good as this? Trust Safari Consultants – we always come up trumps. Our group reconvened and we visited Leshiba, an old favourite high in the Soutpansberg mountains to enjoy the self-guided hiking trails. Bumping into Samson, the white rhino, and two of his ladies, and watching the full moon rise as we sipped our G&T’s at ‘Space Gate’ were so special.
Most thrilling moment? Looking down, having clambered out onto some exposed rocks. I may look calm but that’s another story…
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