Monday, May 11, 2015

Madikwe Game Reserve - Part 1

Last Friday we traveled 200 kilometers to the northwest to Madikwe Game Reserve. Madikwe (pronounced mad-eek-wah) is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa and is located near the Botswana border.  Mr. Deep heard about Madikwe and the Tuningi lodge, where we stayed, from one of his colleagues who said it was outstanding and that we needed to go there ASAP. 

On Thursday, in preparation for the trip, we finally purchased a real camera.  Up until now we've been taking photos with our iPhones and the iPad. I tried to spend some of the time during the four hour drive to Madikwe reading the camera manual in hopes of figuring out how to use it by the time we saw our first animal. 

I quickly remembered that I am not very good at learning to work mechanical things. In fairness to me, I'm pretty sure it's easier to fly the space shuttle than it is to use this camera. I am not exaggerating when I say I could not even figure out how to put the camera strap onto the camera. 

While I was busy with the camera, we were pulled over by the police.

There are a lot of stories about corrupt police in South Africa who pull people over and then try to collect bribes. I'm thinking the cop is going to see a nice camera, hear that we are American and then try to shake us down. I was so frustrated by the camera that part of me just wanted to give him the camera (and the unattached strap) and be done with it. The road block turned out to be nothing. Mr. Deep handled the situation and we were on our way, still in possession of our camera. 

We arrived at the lodge shortly after noon and the first person we met was Heidi. She is in charge of everything at Tuningi Lodge. Heidi gave us a tour of the lodge and showed us to our cabin.

One of the most spectacular things about the lodge is there is a water hole right on the property frequented by all kinds of animals day and night. Many of the animals will also walk right by the guest cabins on their way to the water hole. Maybe this is common at game lodges but never having been to one before, we were excited to spend our free time at the water hole. 

As I've mentioned before, where we live there is a huge focus on all things related to security. Features like guards and electric fences are common. Here it was completely different. There wasn't even a key to our cabin.  Heidi's one security tip was that we needed to make sure we closed the doors when we left our room because otherwise baboons and monkeys would come in looking for sweets. That information made me want to want to leave the doors wide open so we could come back to a room full of monkeys having a party.

We settled into our room and Mr. Deep spent five minutes figuring out the workings of the camera. He also successfully attached the strap. I swear the man is an engineer. This was a good lesson in why it's helpful to marry someone whose mind works differently (and perhaps better) than your own.

the human sitting area at the water hole
After lunch we headed out on our first game drive in an open air vehicle.  There were six people in total in the truck including our guide, Gavin. I'm sure all of the guides are very knowledgeable but Gavin was extra enthusiastic and excited to show us the area and lead us to the game. He spent lots of time leaning over the side of the vehicle looking at and analyzing animal tracks.

Following the game drive we all headed into the bar for a sundowner (happy hour.)

At night, the sky lit up with thousands of stars. If you have been way out in the country or on the water, far away from light pollution then you know what I mean. Of course, we are not advanced enough with our camera to get any star pictures so you'll have to take my word for it. It was like being in a planetarium.

Stories from our adventures at Madikwe will continue in the next blog post.  Enjoy the photos.

pregnant zebra

more buffalo the one on the left is quite old according to Gavin
our vehicle and Mr. Deep during our sundowner break out in the bush

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About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.