Woke up at 5:30am today to begin a long day of traveling. The only positive I can think of is that we had a beautiful sunrise.
After an hour-long bus ride, a two-flight and another 4-hour bus ride, we arrived at our first of two safaris on this trip - the Hanglip Mountain Lodge at the Entabeni Game Reserve. The only neat thing on the drive from joburg to the reserve was seeing antelope and warthogs from the highway. Otherwise, I slept!
When we arrived at the gate we were immediately loaded into safari jeeps to be driven to the lodge. On our way to the lodge we saw our first glimpses of wildlife. We saw giraffes, zebras, and blue wildebeast. I felt like I needed someone to pinch me to make sure it was real!
As soon as we dropped our stuff at our rooms we turned around, had some tea and coffee and then went out on our first game drive around 4:30. We were loaded into a 9-seater jeep that is open on the sides, but covered with a roof. Our guide was an American who is working at the reserve on a 3-year work visa. How cool is that? He had never planned to go to South Africa, but took a class at UConn that included a 1-month trip to Africa and that got him hooked.
On our first drive we managed to see blue wildebeest, kudo antelope, impala antelope, zebras, giraffes, jackals and cheetahs! Apparently cheetahs are pretty rare (there are only 3 on the reserve) and we saw 2 of them just lounging around. We drove back in the dark, looking for nocturnal animals but didn't really see any. We start over again tomorrow morning at 6am on our search for the big 5: elephants, leopards, water buffaloes, rhinos and lions. The big 5 are the animals that were the most difficult and most dangerous to hunt back in the day. So far, we are 0 for 5.
We are the only group at the lodge and they are treating us in style. The rooms are absolutely beautiful and are quite romantic. I personally love the shower.
We were welcomed back from safari with a glass of sherry to warm us up. For dinner, I had springbok carpaccio and kingklip (fish). It was really good.