Thursday, June 20, 2013

Elephant Plains Lodge

We are staying in a lovely lodge called Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands, where there are a series of private game reserves with open fences through to Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The days starts with loud and aggressive pounding on our heavy wooden door.  At 5:30 AM!!!  Up and dressed quickly in the brisk air and out to the front of the lodge for 6 AM where our vehicle awaits, a sturdy Toyota Land Cruiser with three rows of tiered seats.  Our ranger guide greets us with some rules of the road (don't stand up when at a sighting) and the tracker takes his position on a precarious raised seat perched at the front.  But before he takes his seat, the tracker hands out hot water bottles, which we quickly store under our blankets.  Even with long underwear, many upper layers, hat and gloves, the hot water bottle is VERY welcome.  And off we go into the dark, with the tracker swinging a strong light from side to side.  The roads through the brush are very bumpy and rutted.  They are sandy, so the landings are somewhat cushioned. But you do want to make sure you don't get caught on any thorn bushes.

A brief stop for hot drinks on the road, and back to the lodge for a hearty breakfast.  Bush walk for those who wish at 10 AM, and relax time until lunch at 2 PM.  By lunch we are relishing the sunshine's warmth in shorts and t-shirts marvelling that a few short hours ago we were absolutely freezing!

By 3:30 we are back on the road for evening game drive, which also gets cold after dark, but not long-underwear cold.  There's a brief break after game drive before supper, served outside in a circular roofless boma warmed by numerous fires.  Quite romantic.  Good food.

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