Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Camp Jabulani: Bushwalks and Game Drives

Like the other safari camps we visited, there were early morning game drives, late afternoon drives and after dinner drives. Here we were also treated to late night game drives to see sleeping animals. However, at Camp Jabulani, the guests determine what and when they wanted to go out on a drive. The program here was custom designed with the ranger and the guest. The ranger was always available and had a list of suggested activities.

The night drives were interesting because we found sleeping lions and leopards - or was it a cheetah that time? The guides communicate on the radio and tell each other what and where they have sited something. They all take turns getting their guests as close to the animals as possible. It is very well organized. And it gives everyone a chance to see the maximum number of animals.

Of course, the daylight game drives were the best for photographs and we would stop anytime we asked so we could take some shots. Dean was an amazing professional ranger with many certifications. He pointed out flora, fauna, birds, reptiles, foot prints, markings on trees, etc. His knowledge was impressive.

On foot, we were this close to them!

One of the best day adventures was a long bush walk throughout the camp. We were able to come within yards of a dazzle of zebras before they spooked and took off running.

I think this little plant is called String of Stars

An elephant's footprint.

We saw the geological structure of the area, walked the riverbed following tracks, checked out newly blooming flowers and gathered old chards of what may have been arrows and tools of the ancient indigenous people. What an experience to be on the ground and so close to everything. Dean did carry a rifle while we walked, just in case!

Christmas Day was very special this year. Although we were without family, we enjoyed a beautiful breakfast with the Philadelphia family, followed by a game drive. When we returned, the chef had prepared a wonderful holiday buffet. So once again we were eating. Then it was off to enjoy a little down time by the fireplace.

Having had such a large lunch, we thought we would pass on dinner. However, we had a call from the manager asking if we were coming to dinner. When I told her we were feeling rather full, she offered to have it brought to us. At that point, I said, “thank you, but we will come to the dining lodge.” When Dean arrived to escort us, he took us to the other building and into the wine tasting room!

Being a bit confused, we realized we were being treated to a beautiful candlelit dinner for two in the tasting room. What a special Christmas gift and wonderful lasting memory. The perfect ending to a perfect safari experience. I am so glad we didn’t miss it. I could hear the disappointment in her voice when I said we were not coming. Once I saw the set up, I fully understood.

Christmas Brunch

This is where we had our private Christmas Day dinner!

Sadly, we had to pack and leave the next day. We stopped at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre which was established in 1990 as a breeding program for cheetahs. The center is owned by the same family as our camp.

The matriarch of the family had had a cheetah as a pet most of her life. They started this non-profit center to rescue cheetahs and keep the species alive as they are in danger of becoming extinct. Several species of cheetahs have already been lost.

Endangered King Cheetah with its distinctive black mane.
At the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, they are systematically reintroducing cheetahs back into the wild. It is an impressive place and is successfully achieving its goal. They have built up the population of the nearly extinct King Cheetah. It is distinctive with its black strip down its back.

Unfortunately, it was time to say goodbye to the staff and Dean as we headed to the airport. Again, it felt like we were leaving family as they were so caring throughout our stay. This was the most beautiful of all our African experiences!

The Center provides protection and rehabilitation for
other species as well as cheetahs.

These three little rhinos were brought here because some
nasty human being cut off the tail of one of them.

So, there we were heading back to Cape Town and reality! What a wonderful break. Now it is time to prepare for our crew’s arrival and our departure for Brazil. And, of course, celebrate New Year’s Eve with our World ARC family. What a perfect ending to an amazing year!

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