Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Leaving Bongani , arriving at Exeter

It was with great sadness that we left Bongani this morning.  We have had some fantastic experiences while we were there, and we hope that one day we will be able to come back again.  If ever you decide to go on safari, Bongani is a fantastic place to encounter the most amazing wildlife.
We thank Steve and Aaron for our incredible wildlife encounters, and wealth of knowledge that they passed on to us.
We said our goodbyes and headed north to our next stop.  Along the way we stopped at Hazyview for petrol and a leg stretch.  We wanted to get some money out of a cash machine, but the machine at the petrol station was broken, and the guy repairing the machine couldn't tell us if it would be ready in 5 minutes or an hour.

Outside also filling up their car were a couple of policemen.  So we thought we would ask them if they knew where the closet cash machine was.  The police were fantastic, and said we will take you there, just follow us.  So we got in the car, and followed them into town to the closest cash machine.  While we were getting cash out, they waited for us, and then got us to follow them to the main road again so we could continue to Sabi Sands.  They gave us a wave and we continued on our way! We were thrilled and so grateful for their assistance!

A fairly uneventful drive north to Sabi Sands, and we got a laugh from the hippo signs on the road, as we are more used to kangaroo, koala and wombat signs.  I would hate to think of the damage to the car if you hit a hippo on the road.
We got to the edge of the Sabi Sands entrance, signed in, and had a 12km drive to Exeter River Lodge.  We were in the game park.  Don't get out of the car, keep your windows up if you encounter lions.  Nicole was petrified, and not comfortable at all on the 12km journey to the camp.
 We got to Exeter River Lodge, and encountered these gorgeous warthogs along the path!
 We had 2 rooms booked.  Phil and Alexander were in one, and Nicole and Cameron were in the other one.  There was no way Nicole was comfortable with the kids being in a room by themselves and us not being able to get to them in the middle of the night (we needed a security guard to escort us in the evenings - especially with the local leopard who likes to drink from the dip pools on the balconies).
The rooms were stunning. 
The foyer.
 Lounge area
 Beds, with bathroom in the distance
 View from the bed, dip pool, and just below the dip pool is the grassy area just before the river.
 Bathroom, with big windows to view while you shower
 Bath, and the view of the outdoor shower.  Phil tried it out and said it was fantastic, Nicole was still freaking out about the local leopard, and was happy to bath inside.
In the lounge room were these amazing animal guide books.  The kids were thrilled with them, and took them while we were out on game drives to see which animals they could tick off.  Cameron loved seeing all the different type of birds.

We settled in to our rooms and then met back at the main lodge to meet Ronny, our "butler" for our visit.  Ronny was fantastic, a charming, sincere and funny man who looked after us.  He proudly showed us photos of his adorable children, they live in one of the local villages close by. Ronny made the kids his "famous pink" non alcoholic cocktail, which quickly became the kids favourite drink in South Africa!

The main lodge is open, they have some issues with the local monkeys which we experienced the following day, so they have to be careful with food and drink. The monkeys show no fear and are happy to walk right up to the tables to grab a piece of fruit or a drink.  The boys thought they were hilarious! (much happier with the monkeys than the baboons!)

After a quick bite to eat for afternoon tea, we met our driver Craig and our tracker, Martin  who would look after us for the few days we were at Exeter.  Craig wanted us to make it a quick snack, as 4 lions had been spotted not too far away, and he wanted to show us the lions before they took off again.  We didn't need too much encouragement, so we skulled the drinks, put on the mosquito repellent and we were on the jeep fairly quickly.  We were pretty excited, but also cautious as those 2 lions in the boma at Bongani had given us a real scare when they let out a tiny roar....and we were ok with that as they were behind a fence...this was totally different!

Exeter sits on about 10,000 hectares of land, so lots of room, our tracker, Martin was great, along with being in radio contact with other safari vehicles who were also on the lookout for animals.

So, we found the 4 lions fairly quickly and we followed them for awhile.  The kids complained that Nicole was squeezing them so tightly.  Those lions were hungry!  They were thin and you could see their ribcages.  They were following a scent of something, and then were on the move.  Nicole hoped the lions wouldn't see the kids as a tasty snack before the main event!
Not easy to take photos, but we got this one, you can see those ribs!

After following the lions for a few kilometres we left them alone to find other animals.  Cameron was really hoping to see a live attack, but Nicole was quite sure he would find it distressing.  Thankfully we left before they caught up with whatever they were tracking.
We also saw
Slender Mongoose
Scrub Hare
White tail Mongoose

Greater Blue Starling
Grey Go-Away-Bird
Crested Francolin
Natal Francolin
Swainson's Francolin
Magpie (Longtail) Shrike
Arrow-marked Babbler
Saddlebill Stork
Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill
Red-billed Hornbill
Fish Eagle
Fork-tailed Drongo
Fiery-necked Nightjar

Back at the lodge, Ronny was waiting for us with an amazing dinner on the balcony of the main lodge.  We managed to see the local leopard wandering beside the river, then we were safely ecorted back to our rooms for a good night sleep.
It was a great day and we hoped that perhaps the following morning we would hear if the lions caught up with whatever they were following.

No comments: