Back from SA, part 2

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Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:15 PM
  #1
vr
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Back from SA, part 2

After CapeTown and the Rovos journey, we had a day in Joburg, staying at the Park Hyatt. We were using Hyatt points, so there was no agonising about where to stay. The hotel has been refurbished and is the standard Hyatt type--no complaints, but no raves either, except for a very helpful concierge. We left our big suitcase at the hotel and took small duffle bags on the tiny plane to the game-lodge. And then the excitement began. We were staying at Simbambili and our drive to the lodge from the air-strip gave us a rush. The scent of the bush after a gap of two years was heady and we found ourselves grinning insanely!The lodge was lovely--the brochure stressed how it was designed to merge into the environment and thats so true. It is small, very intimate and while being luxurious, has a cozy feel. That may have something to do with the youth of the people running it, all of them apeared to be twenty-somethings.We were shown our unit (for want of a better word) after the warm-towel, welcome drink ritual. The brochure and Rocco did not lie! Very well appointed, seriously large bed, gorgeous bathroom with a huge round tub--all opening on to our private patio. There was a plunge pool, sadly unused as it was not warm enough, and a lovely day-bed under a thatch. We were told that Simbambili had no lunch but oferred a 'hevay tea' at three; this actually turned out to suit us better than a mid-day meal.We got ready for our first game-drive, a little anxious and hoping the drive would match up to the lodge.We were to share our vehicle with one other couple and our ranger was De Beers and our ranger was Lucky.I mention both names with a reason--it was our belief that we really drew the best of the lot--I will not foist my husbands predictable jokes on you--something to do with 'lucking out' and diamonds On our first game drive we saw a breeding herd of elephants, the Mulawati pride of lions devouring a recently killed girrafe, Kurhula the leopard, two rhinos and a wart-hog! The game-viwing was sensitevely handled by De Beers; we were not rushed and we were able to go within a few feet of the animals. As I type this I feel I should be sprinkling exclamation marks all over--from our past experiences, we realized Africa was putting on a special welcome show for us, either that or De Beers and Lucky were just darn good. We spoke with both of them when we stopped for our sundowners and they both agreed that we had had a great drive; they also expressed regrets about not being able to drive off-road in pursuit of elephants and rhinos. App. Simbambili vehicles can only go off -road in the case of big cats. In our five days there, it never seemed to impede our sightings in any way. We went back to the lodge and met the other guests for cocktails and dinner. Being the new kids on the block it took a few minutes to 'fit in' with the rest, but the overall atmosphere in the lodge is so charmingly informal and young (query--were we so used to the geriatrics on the train that youth suddenly made such an impression?)that we were soon trading game-viwing stories with the best of them. Dinner was great--as Rocco had promised; being vegetarians ,we were asked before every meal what we wanted to eat.We left it enirely to the chef, who did not disappoint.
Our drive the next day was as good as the last evenings. We drove first to see the same pride of lions. It was feral and at the same time awesome being a few feet away from the giraffe carcass and seeing the lions devouring it. After that De Beers said Kurhula had been sighted nearby and we drove off towards her. That proved to be one of the most enchanting moments of the entire trip. Kurhula was just ambling along, giving little leaps in the air and swatting at butterflies,darting every now and then at squirrels and generally mosying along without a care in the world. We felt really priviledged to be witnessing a LEOPARD from just a few feet away and though 'surely nothing is going to match this'.and this was only the second game drive! More latr..
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 11:07 PM
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Hi vr,

So far, so good, it would seem. Were you not able to go off roads due to the wet conditions? As I had not heard that before about Simbambili, also had not heard about the no lunch. It would not suit me at all! Thornybush in July 2002 also did not serve a lunch, and I should be, but I am not, over it!
Your gameviewing to date seems very good, and that is what I would think was most important, but I still like to be offered lunch!

Kind regards,
Kaye
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 11:15 PM
  #3
vr
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kayen--the tracks were wet-ish, but we were not allowed to go off road only in pursuit of elephants and rhinos--somethinmg to do with traversing rights. The ranger said that the two ladies who owned the land only allowed Simbambili vehicles off road for cats and other game. Re. lunch--breakfast was HUGE and served upto ten. High tea was more than just sdandwiches and cakes, so we actually enjoyed being able to lounge around till three!
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 11:31 PM
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vr,

Great report so far...glad to see that my recommendation did not fail you.

Regarding the absence of lunch, personally, I never even noticed. Breakfast at Simbambili is the best I have had at any game lodge, and by the time breakfast is over, it must already be around 10:30AM. I could not even imagine having a full lunch after their hearty breakfasts...technically, I guess it cannot be called brunch, since mostly breakfast foods are served, but for the variety and quantity of food available, it is certainly as filling as a brunch.

That must have been amazing to watch the leopard swat at the butterflies. I am wondering if the leopard you have named is not a young female who just celebrated her first birthday. There was a beautiful 7 month old female while I was there who had not yet been named.

I look forward to the rest of your report.
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Mar 24th, 2006, 12:38 AM
  #5
vr
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Thankyou, Rocco, my guru!!! I will def. continue with my report-spurned on by your kind words--and will try and keep it factual and not just emotional!
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Mar 24th, 2006, 12:49 AM
  #6
santharamhari
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A lot of camps where breakfast is big and late......serve a late brunch just prior to your evening drive i.e., Kwando.......you arrive into camp closer to 11am and eat breakfast......obviously you can't eat until 4pm or whenever, just prior to heading out again......you return for dinner. However, if you do get hungry in the middle you can always ask for something.........
 
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Mar 24th, 2006, 05:54 AM
  #7
santharamhari
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sorry........that was a typo.....i meant lunch just prior to going out on an evening drive.....

I guess the reasoning is, you dont allow your hunger pangs to force you to return back home for dinner, especially if you see something interesting and want to stay out for as long as you wish.........
 
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