Wow. All we have to say is wow. Dreams do come true.
Let me back up to how we got here. So unlike the previous days with the breakfast buffet, after a 9 pm sleep and a 7 am wake-up, we packed our bags and made our way to the airport. We had a nice breakfast in the lounge before boarding our super tiny flight to Kruger Park airport for the 30-minute flight.
Right before we took off, we got a phone call from the lodge and while we had a hard time understanding them, we took away that there was a “strike” in the village and the main road was closed….so we would have to meet a guide at a specific meeting point and have an extra drive.
After landing, we got the car and drove about 90 minutes to our meeting point. We’ve now driven and/or been passengers in quite a few countries and South African driving style down here was certainly unique in its own way, each lane was really two lanes as the slow cars go left and the fast cars go right.
We met up with our “guide” and made our way through Kruger National Park instead of on main ways. The drive which should’ve taken 3 minutes off of the main road took over an hour for this purpose and our rental car saw a lot more road than I think it was begging for.
We finally arrived in paradise, aka our lodge, around 2:30 pm. We had a brief orientation before being shown to our “room”. Everything about this place was perfect. They had moved the bags to our room so quickly and were walking us around the property, providing us with all of the answers to our questions, and like small children at Disney for the first time, everything was off without a hitch.
At 3 pm we met with the group for lunch and introduction to our fellow adventurers. Our guide (Kevin) sat with us and introduced us to our jeep-mates- a family of ex-pats from the US that currently live in Norway.
After a phenomenal lunch, we were off on our 3-hour afternoon drive. Within the first 45 minutes, we saw 2 white rhinos, a heard of elephants, and a pride of lions. We were so close to the animals, I was (and still am) in shock that they weren’t interested in coming up to us to investigate who we were and what we were doing.
As the afternoon continued on, we saw water bucks, hippos, wild dogs, a chameleon, and so many other animals. The jeep set-up was awesome, we had 3-rows of 2 seats, a driver, and a tracker who was sitting in a make-shift seat off of the front of the vehicle.
The pictures likely won’t do it justice but we had a great time/saw a ton in our first drive and can’t wait for the next 7 over the next couple days. By the time we returned, the stay in heaven continued to get better. The staff had drawn a hot bath and it was warm when we walked in (they even had a little sheet that says we drew a bath for you, do you want this tomorrow). We had about an hour to get ready before dinner and quickly showered before we were picked up.
You can’t walk around here alone at night because there could be leopards roaming the property…just going to let that soak in here. But don’t worry, we asked what to do if we saw one and the answer was if you see one, you’re OK. The issue is if you don’t see it…that didn’t make us feel any better.
We made our way to dinner and realized that we were going to be eating well the next few days. We had a lovely South African themed BBQ sitting with our guide and our fellow jeep-goers and really are settling in nicely to the most excited part of our trip over all of the other destinations.
We scurried away from dinner rather quickly as a thunderstorm was settling in but the rain won’t slow us down–they’ll either call us at 5:30 am to wake us up for the morning drive or we’ll get to sleep in a little bit.
Only time will tell how great these 4 nights are going to be, but if the next 3+ days are anything like the past 7.5 hours, our expectations are going to be so far exceeded.