I would like to share with you my latest adventure to South Africa, where I had the opportunity to explore the wonderful Kwazulu Natal region.
When I arrived I was greeted by a 6ft smiling South African called Tebogo – the gentle giant! His first words to me were “In Africa anything is possible” in his proud booming voice.
Much of my visit was spent in Hluhluwe, once you master the pronounciation (Sish-louie), (not too difficult if you do not attempt the almost impossible Zulu pronunciation which involves a sort of a clicking motion made by your mouth followed by the word), you realise what a magic place it is and so rich in wildlife.
At Bonamanzi Game Park we took an early morning game drive; it was quite chilly but they load you up with plenty of blankets, and I am told this is the perfect time to view the wakening wildlife. We see wild dogs tucking into their kill; while hyenas look-on licking their lips. And at waterhole we see a family of white rhinos taking a dip with a herd of impalas. An elephant on the side of the road munching on a large tree which is almost snapping with the weight! Two magnificent buffalos and giraffes in the distance allowing for a backdrop just typical of Africa.Just chilling-out at Bonamanzi Lodge allows great wildlife opportunities; as I relax around the pool two monkeys swing out of a tree and stop by the swimming pool for a drink and a warthog strolls past my sun lounger – what an experience! There is also a view point for watching crocodiles at the lodge.
I had seen my fair share of crocodiles, and hippos too, during the water cruise at St Lucia. It is a fantastic experience to watch the hippo’s, sometimes in groups of thirty, all bathing and playing together. And in the beautiful African sunshine, there is no better place to be than on a river cruise.Towards the end of my journey I began to believe Tebogo was quite right in his opinion that “anything is possible in Africa”. I would never have imagined that I would be in a cage with an fully grown red blooded cheetah, stroking it as it purrs like a timid house cat! This is an optional activity which is possible whilst staying at Bonamanzi Lodge and it is so worth it. It is a rehabilitation centre for endangered cats, not only a tourist attraction, so you are helping with the rehabilitation process and investing in local community project.I was also lucky enough to meet some Zulu tribes, and learn about their fascinating culture and history. I was treated to a local dance; which oozed so much passion and energy. They really are such warm and friendly people.This truly was an amazing trip, and yes anything is possible in Africa!
My up-close and personal encounters with the indigenous wildlife and the warmth of the Zulu people will be an everlasting experience and memory that will stay with me for many years to come…