I have just returned to the farm after spending three glorious days with Peter and our friends, Judy and Nicky, at Nambiti game reserve, near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, where we had a truly “out of Africa” experience. We stayed at Esiweni Lodge ( see http://esiweni.co.za/) which was absolutely superb, and made even more outstanding by our guide, Elize, whose enthusiasm for her job and love of the African bushveld was infectious. There is nothing like spending time in the bush to recharge one’s batteries and re-affirm one’s soul. Elize gave us a poem called Rebirth by John Stone which kind of sums it up:
For a while
Part of Africa
To be nourished by the roots of humankind
To feel the earth beneath my feet
The soil between my toes
To taste the air
I came to listen to the voice of Africa
For the African sun to warm my soul
Not only is Africa my home
But so is everywhere else
A universal spirit
Is part of me
And I of it
Our room was perched on the edge of a cliff with spectacular views of the Sundays River Gorge. What a pleasure to be able to fling open our bedroom doors at night (without fear of human intrusion) and lie in bed listening to the grand African opera outside. We were lulled to sleep by the bushveld orchestra, stirring every now and again to hear the lion sing their powerful arias, a heart-wrenching tale of an ancient time long lost to us now.
I had forgotten how exquisite the bush can be; the sounds, the smells and of course, the animals. Here are some of the highlights:
Zebra Question by Shel Silverstein. I asked the zebra, are you black with white stripes? Or white with black stripes? And the zebra asked me, are you good with bad habits? Or are you bad with good habits? Are you noisy with quiet times? Or are you quiet with noisy times? Are you happy with some sad days? Or are you sad with some happy days? Are you neat with some sloppy ways? Or are you sloppy with some neat ways? And on and on and on and on and on and on he went. I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes again.
We had two sightings of lion (eat your hearts out, Kiera and James). We found a family (mother, father, daughter and 2 sons) lolling about in the grass late one afternoon. We parked, in an open Landcruiser, about 5 metres away from them. I have to admit I was a bit nervous but they didn’t pay much attention to us. On another evening, when we were returning from a game drive, we saw the same 2 brothers and sister dining on a warthog snack. We then followed the young lioness while she gave chase, somewhat halfheartedly, to herd of zebra. In the end she gave up and headed back to join her brothers.
There are 3 cheetahs in the reserve and although they have collars, the batteries are flat so they cannot be tracked. On our last game drive, we rounded the corner after leaving the lodge and there was this cheetah in the middle of the road. It was the first time I have ever seen cheetah, so you can imagine my excitement. The cheetah was quite skittish because the lions were in the area but it paid no attention to us.