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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Thakadu River Camp. Birds, birds, birds...and all the feathered kind!
This elegant tented camp overlooks the Marico River and is situated in the Eastern part of the Madikwe private game reserve.
The camp consists of 12 tented suits, each with an adjoining bathroom complete with both bath and shower...unfortunately there was no outdoor shower, but as my visit was during winter I am not sure that I would have used it even if it was on offer!
The modern ‘tent’ actually bears no real resemblance to its namesake other that the fact that the sides and roof are made of canvas.
My 'tent' had sliding doors that led to a private deck that overlooked the slowly flowing river (and it is from this vantage that I am writing this article)
I was lucky enough to be flown to Madikwe courtesy of Federal Air and even though it was a small plane the flight waspleasant. The flight takes less than an hour and it certainly beats a three hour drive and the MOST EXPENSIVE TOLL ROAD (R65.00 per car) in South Africa.
The plan landed at the Eastern airstrip (which is tarred) and a vehicle from the lodge was on
hand to fetch me...all very CELEB-like. If I was expecting a herd of photographers to be waiting to take my picture as I exited the plane I would have been disappointed, but the herd of young Impala females and some Waterbuck made up for the lack of the sound of camera motor-drives and flashes!
On the drive to the camp, Kaizer, my ranger spotted this chameleon and we stopped to watch as it sloooooooooooooooowly crossed the road...I have not seen on of these rather pre-historic looking creatures in years so this sighting was a great ‘Welcome to Thakadu’ for me.
I arrived in time for high tea, which included a welcome cake...certainly, a first for this intrepid travel writer.
High tea behind us, it was time for a somewhat chilly evening game drive together with the other guests that had booked into the lodge earlier. Our vehicle contained a mixture of locals, Australians, a couple from Holland and an architect from NYC...a great mix of people that led to an enjoyable drive and an even more enjoyable dinner.
I was asleep BEFORE my head even hit my pillow and the next thing I knew was the jangling of the phone informing me that it was my 6am wake-up call...
The first half and hour of our morning drive consisted of our ranger trying to follow some lion spoor without much luck.
But that was to change when we eventually found two lions who were being let a merry dance by a lioness...the poor chaps were kept moving by this female who seemed to have something in mind other than food.
It was not only the lions that got our cameras clicking, as we discovered a breeding herd of elephants at a waterhole close by.
A Mom with a month-old calf seemed to be somewhat unhappy with our 'intrusion’ and we decided to make our way back to camp...ONLY to run into not one but two more groups of Elephants as well as another two lionesses.
We ended off the drive watching a lilac-breasted roller enjoying the weak mid morning sunshine...as colourful ending to a spectacular drive!
My final night drive started off where the morning drive ended...yet ANOTHER Lilac breasted Roller...but this time with a locust (would this count as a kill sighting?) After beating it to death, and losing the legs in the process, our intrepid hunter was joined by a second Roller that wanted a share of the spoils...but our killer was having none of that an scoffed the entire insect!
Instead of looking for critters with claws and teeth (or horns for that matter) we decided to spend time with the smaller inhabitants...lots of birds and a water monitor(so we could tick off at least 1 predator)
Our drive back to the camp was relatively uneventful except for a rather quick sighting of a Brown Hyena.
An enjoyable dinner, good company and 2 roaring fires...what more could any travel writer want?
It was early to bed as I leave this camp in the East and travel to the Western side of Madikwe for my next bush experience.
This side of Madikwe might not be as ‘popular’ as the West, but with a good ranger (Thanks Kaizer) you can get to see most if not all of the species on your wish list.
My thanks to all for an enjoyable stay and some great game spotting
To see more images: http://picasaweb.google.com/david.batzofin
Telephone: 011 805 9995
Web site: www.madikwecollection.com