This morning we had yet another early morning, earlier than we have had yet since we had to make sure our suitcases were down in the lobby ay 6 AM to ensure we made it to the airport in time for our flight to Johannesburg. We left the hotel with a to go breakfast before the sun was even up for the quick drive to the airport.
Once we got to the airport things went relatively smoothly. I say relatively because I unfortunately was over the weight limit for my checked bag. A little quirk with flying South Africa evidently is that you can’t make payments at the check-in desk, you have to go to the payment desk, with your luggage, to pay the overweight fee (approximately $30 USD) then head back to the check-in desk to get your ticket after showing proof of payment. It really wasn’t a difficult process just a little annoying since all I wanted to do was get through security and get something to eat. Security was a breeze and we were treated a beautiful sunrise! We had a few hours to grab something to eat, a cup of coffee and some planning for our game drive car! The flight to Johannesburg was quick and roomy since we had the exit row.
After we picked up our luggage, we headed to the coach bus to take the 2 hour drive to Mabula Game Lodge. Driving through Johannesburg you definite see the difference between here and Cape Town. Cape Town was a city of colorful cheerful houses where J-burg (as locals call it) have houses that are surrounded by gates, fences, and walls to keep harm and theft at bay. Along the drive we were able to see some animals by the side of the road as well as beautiful birds flying in the sky.
When we arrived at the game lodge we checked in and were taken to the restaurant for lunch before our first game drive. The lunch offering was a buffet with such things as pasta, broccoli, wildebeest – yes wildebeest. I guess you can say that the meal was definitely locally sourced! I bypassed eating any animals that we may see on our game drive.
After lunch we went to our rooms to check it out and freshen up a bit. When we got to our room we found impalas wandering around the property freely. I didn’t realize that the impalas and other animals would be coming on onto the patio.
We headed to the main lobby to get ready for our first game drive. We were very excited and couldn’t wait to see what animals were going to see! We met up with our fellow jeep mates and met our driver George. We were all excited to start the safari that were like little kids on Christmas morning. We couldn’t sit still and our heads were on a swivel looking around for animals!
The first animal we saw was an elephant crossing our path. We were all in awe of the size and beauty of the animal. It was definitely a wonderful way to start the safari! From there we found impalas, zebras, warthogs, kudus, cape buffalo, rhinos, oryx, hippos, wildebeest and of course beautiful scenery! It was a fabulous first game drive.
Once the sun went down it did become a little chilly, and of course none of us were prepared for that! Luckily, after about an hour complaining about how cold we all are our driver George finally let us in on a little secret….there were poncho/blanket under the last row of seats for us to enjoy! Once we were all cozy and warm in our ponchos George also told us that we would be stopping for a complimentary drink, snack, and the view of the bush! It was definitely a nice break before heading back to the lodge.
After our break in the bush we headed back to the lodge for dinner and entertainment. The lodge had children drummers and dancers perform for us around the fire pit. Our tour manager Johnathan yet again went above and beyond and provided use marshmallows to roast, then ran around to get us biscuits and chocolate to make s’mores! It was a sweet way to end our day.