South Africa: Pilansberg – Call of the Wild
’You bring us rain!’’, chuckled Alice as we arrived at Ivory Tree Lodge at Pilansberg. Our faces drooped and we apologised profusely. (Rains and English effect) Will we be able to see any animals though? asked Adi, the man who accidently became an engineer instead of a quizmaster.
‘’Oh yes!’’, We need rain here, animals like to shower after the hot sun. Our faces beamed.After researching for months on Kruger, we had to make a compromise – Pilansberg. Thanks to Adi’s visa restrictions, we could holiday in South Africa only for a week. Pilansberg was an excellent choice given its proximity to Joburg and the chance to see the Big 5 in a malaria free zone was a bonus. (Yes, I do dread malaria, the fatal mozzie nearly killing me twice)
After relaxing a bit in our posh lodge and the clouds clearing out, we boarded the open safari vehicle to a mixed crowd of enthusiastic locals and tourists as co-passengers. ‘’There is a cheetah on a prowl’’, announced Leon our ranger in an accented Afrikaans.
As the rangers co-ordinated about the cheetah spotting, Leon drove us into the heart of the forest reserve. The passionate locals who had been to several safaris in their lifetime (just like we do Lonavala) helped us spot animals even from a far distance. I was keen on spotting a Zebra because of their cuteness factors. (Weird?) and Adi had never seen a herd of elephants in the wild.
Whats that! Asked the German tourist…. Impala. You will see plenty of those! No need to stop for a snap of this one, cooed the local girl! The wind blew gently over the shrubby forest landscape and I couldn’t resist appreciating the gentle fragrance of grass… ahh the good life!
Hyenas, wild boars, kudus, spring box (that’s national animal of South Africa), Rhinos, Lions, wild buffalo…. We saw them all and more Impalas ofcourse.
Cheetah? The cats are really clever and difficult to spot. We tried hard for an hour! But no such luck. Sigh! Perhaps we would be lucky next morning. As we stopped for some sundowners, the locals filled us with
their exciting stories.
‘’Hurry’’! I can see the clouds approaching and we have a long way to go…remarked Leon.
No sooner had we settled down, thunderstorms and downpour followed in minutes. The animals moved hurridly as well. The birds chirped excitedly, a signal to hurry home.
We packed our cameras and quickly wore the raincoats. We clung to each other as we shivered in the African rain. The sun was setting as well, painting the horizon into deep orange shade.
I looked behind and nudged Adi. The sight we saw will perhaps remain etched on our minds.Two giraffes standing in the dark with the deep orange and dark sky as their halos. A brilliant painting stood alive, right before our eyes.
P.S: The next morning witnessed a kill. Leos, Leos shining bright with a Kudu for a meal. Boy! The scene of the jungle changes when the Lion king does his catch. The birds, the herds of deer, giraffes move away cautiously from the sight…. But the clever jackal lingers around the mighty matriarch lioness, trying to gobble some leftovers. (Talk about side kicks)
So avid travellers, a safari is a must do. So pack your bags and go for a game drive.
Listen to the call of the wild.
28 November 2014