Day 359 of 400: Impodimo Safari Lodge, afternoon game drive (1 of 6) – Madikwe, South Africa
It was a bit awkward getting dropped off by one lodge at the next…there aren’t so many accommodations on the reserve so they are all competitive. We got our stuff into the new place called, Impodimo Safari Lodge (www.impodimo.com). It was also a very open-air feel…bungalow style, we sat down in the main room with our welcome drink and signed paperwork before going to our room. The host explained how things work at the lodge…there are only two meals per day here, a brunch and a dinner. She also informed us that unlike Rhulani…this lodge has no fencing around it, animals can and do cut through the property to get to where they are going. We were not allowed to walk to our room at night alone, the ranger would accompany us and would do so with a gun. She showed us our room which was a modern little bungalow, very spacious and tastefully decorated…including a private outdoor shower. We could tell by the style of this lodge that it was older than the Rhulani…they had been around longer.
We walked around the property a bit…the main bungalows were lined up in a row and then through the little walkway was a viewing deck which had a table and chairs looking out onto an opening in the bushes. There was also a pool with large deck which is where brunch was served and plenty of lounge chairs to soak up the sun between drives. The main lobby area had a bar and tables on the main floor with a small upstairs area which had couches and a TV. It also had a patio with a view, Giff and I sat up there and looked through one of the photography books to see what kinds of pictures the “professionals” had published.
We did notice while walking around that there were kids on the property…nothing against kids but we did not pay this much money to get a PG version of a safari! We felt kind of bad but requested we not be in the same jeep as the kids…they had a couple of cars going out so they said it was no problem to make sure we were on a different drive. We want this experience to be about us and not about what the kids want to see…I know, that is kind of selfish but this is our trip!!
It was late afternoon and time for our first safari drive with Impodimo Game Lodge. The jeep was again hard-core…but a little different from the last one. It did not have a roof at all, which is cool but at the same time if it rains…it won’t be so fun. The seats were big time stadium seating…and Giff and I sat in the very back of the jeep…the highest seats. This jeep has two rangers…one drives and one sits in a chair suspended in the front of the car while he looks for tracks in the dirt. There was only one other couple in the jeep with us so we had plenty of space to spread out.
As we were driving in the extremely bumpy ride…one of the first things we saw was a flock of birds flying together with the mountains in the backdrop…it was like we were on the discovery channel. Then we spotted a giraffe…since they are so tall, they really can’t hide amongst the bushes so can easily be spotted in the distance.
We continued our drive until we came up on two rhino’s…side by side eating grass. They were like big lawn mowers eating and eating but keeping an eye on us. Rhino’s are usually very skittish and disappear into the bushes but they stayed around for a little bit and let us get fairly close to them…we got amazing pictures, close-ups of their skin, eyes and beloved horns. Finally they had enough and made their way out of sight.
The ranger heard on the radio that someone found a leopard…number 5 of the Big 5 for us to see!! We were excited but not wanting to get our hopes up…leopards move fast so there were no promises that we would be able to find her. But…sure enough, there she was, coming out of the tall grasses and using the much easier dirt road to walk down. She was absolutely beautiful, her coat was pristine and she walked with such gracefulness. She had her back to us walking down the street and then stopped to hunt something in the grass…then she was gone. At least we got to see her just for a couple of minutes!
The rangers pulled over…for what they call “sundown” which is a beer and some snacks. We were all smiling as we chatted…we had a buzz after just seeing the leopard. Not everyone gets to see her…she is difficult to find, sometimes only seen from afar sleeping in a tree. We spent some time drinking our beer and listening to stories and then climbed back into the jeep. It was getting dark but we weren’t going home quite yet…the jeep turned off the road and deep into the bushes. We pulled up and saw about 8 young lions sitting in the tall grass by themselves. The moon was brightly shining down as we gazed upon all of these lions playing together, waiting for the lionesses to come back with what ever they killed for dinner. It was a lot of mouthes to feed…and the ranger said there were too many young males. The reserve will need to split them up or they will kill too many grazing animals…it will throw off the equilibrium. What will they do with some of the young male lions you ask? They will either be placed on other reserves or they will sell them to hunting reserves…people pay about $25,000 to hunt and kill a lion. How exactly is it a fair fight for a human to go out into the bush with a gun and shoot a lion? If they really want to kill a lion to “feel like a man” why not go out with no weapons and fight the lion? Maybe because they would be eaten, so they cheat and shoot it from far away…cowards.
After watching the young lions for a bit and wondering if the lioness was going to come back with food while we were there…we finally left and got back to the lodge where dinner was waiting for us. We ate and drank wine while chatting with the other tourists before being walked back to our bungalow for the evening.