Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Kichaka Private Game Lodge

I am so proud of this photo that I've already posted it on Facebook and on Instagram. Usually I try to save the best photos and reveal them on the blog but with this one I just couldn't wait. I'm so happy I successfully captured fighting zebras while on safari at Kichaka. 

Last month, Mr. Deep, my parents and I took a trip together. The trip began in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa where we spent a few days at Kichaka Private Game Lodge. 
Map of South Africa. We live in Gauteng. Kichaka is located in the Eastern Cape province near Grahamstown.
We flew from Joburg to Port Elizabeth and then drove about an hour to Kichaka. We arrived early and our rooms were not yet ready but we were immediately captivated by the pretty lodge and surroundings. Kichaka is on par with Madikwe, which Mr. Deep and I visited about a year ago. Although we've been on several game drives since Madikwe, we haven't been anywhere nearly as fancy again until now.
Beautiful view from the deck at Kichaka lodge.
Inside the lodge

Private outdoor shower for each cabin at Kichaka. There was also an indoor shower and bathtub.
Private pool for each cabin at Kichaka. There was also a large pool at the lodge.
Mr. Deep and I have enjoyed all kinds of game drives from the self drive camping trip in Kruger to the more local park in Pilanesberg to the top private lodges like Madikwe and Kichaka. All of these safaris have been wonderful. Even our worst game drive experience was still an opportunity to view wildlife in natural surroundings. Watching wild animals eat, drink, fight, sleep, walk, whatever, I find it fascinating. And as no two game drives are exactly alike going on one is never boring at least not to me. 

Visiting a luxury lodge like Kichaka is an extra special experience because of the amenities offered. There is a lot of down time spent at these remote lodges when you are not out on game drives.  While I am fine with camping and roughing it I love vacations that are a mixture of rugged/wild and first class service. Years ago Mr. Deep and I visited a working cattle ranch in Montana. Days were spent riding horses, yelling at cows and getting dirty. Yelling at cows is so exhilarating by the way. Nights were spent eating gourmet dinners, drinking great wine and sleeping in a warm and cozy cabin with high thread count sheets. Perfection!

Another reason to love the high end luxury lodges is that the rangers who take you out on the safaris are excellent. The amount of knowledge that they possess in their heads about the animals is remarkable. Remember I wrote about Gavin at Madikwe? our guide at Kichaka was named Jason. Although he was much younger than Gavin he knew everything about animal behavior, trees, plants and animal tracks. The topic that he seemed to be most passionate about however was animal dung. This guy loved to talk shit. And not just talk about it. He liked to show it to us and discuss information that could be garnered from looking at it. Apparently quite a bit can be learned by studying it. 

An elephant track that Jason spotted on the road during an evening drive. Sorry, I didn't get any dung photos. I know some of you are disappointed.
We all know that male humans can be kind of gross. It seems that they can't help it because humans are animals and male animals in the wild are really gross. Male animals such as hippos and rhinos like to use their dung to mark their territory. I'll leave the methods they use to do this to your imagination. In addition, from what I gathered from listening to Jason, male animals spend their days eating, trying desperately to have sex with females, spreading around their dung, getting kicked out of herds by annoyed females and fighting with other males. How endearing.

One of the most exciting and borderline scary experiences came when we were looking at elephants. We were parked on the road watching elephants on both sides of the road eating branches and just hanging out. The brush was so thick that we couldn't see through it to see if other elephants were nearby. Jason had told us the day before that the situation you really want to avoid when viewing elephants is suddenly finding your vehicle surrounded by them. As we were watching, a big bull elephant came out of the brush right in front of our vehicle. Now, the truck was surrounded on three sides by elephants. Jason got nervous and said, "that's exactly what I didn't want to happen." He threw the truck into reverse and started backing up pretty quickly. It all happened fast and soon we were away from the elephants. What an experience!

Besides a first rate safari guide, other fantastic elements of Kichaka included the food, the accommodations, the spa and the endless amount of all inclusive fine alcohol. I have never been on a trip anywhere in my life where top shelf alcohol and whole bottles of wine were included in the price. If I had not visited the spa we would have owed no additional money upon check out. When the staff took us to our rooms they actually asked if they could put anything specific into our mini bars? For free! I almost fell over. I have been to Mexican resorts where some type of half gasoline half dregs of nearly empty liquor bottle swill is mixed with some not naturally appearing in nature blue juice. That concoction is free and all you can drink but it's not that classy. Of course at a game lodge you are getting up at 5:00 in the morning for the drives so you need to keep yourself in check. 

All liquor shown here was included in the price. Plus a full wine list and beer. WOW!
And the spa. To look at it the spa didn't seem like much as it was housed in a tent. However, the spa at Kichaka was the single greatest spa experience that I've had. And I know my stuff when it comes to beauty treatments. Listening to birds and nature and feeling a cool morning breeze while getting a facial is actually more relaxing than low light spa rooms with the piped in sound of fake waves crashing. I feel asleep during my treatment. It was that good.

Inside the treatment room
The spa from the outside
The food! Breakfast, lunch, dinner and high tea were provided each day as well as snacks and drinks on the afternoon game drive. It was really too much food but I managed to eat most of it anyway. All food was beautifully prepared and delicious.
African sunsets are so beautiful. 
Another one
Now onto the important stuff. Photos of animals. Enjoy!

Lion brothers. They were kicked out of the pride and now live on their own.

This cheetah had a little scrape on his leg so he was just resting. We watched him for about 30 minutes. 


Submerged hippo

These rhino sightings were followed by a full lesson about rhino dung.

This is an African wildcat. Doesn't it look exactly like a regular house cat? Jason hadn't seen one in months so he was really excited about this sighting.


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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.