A Cure for my Malaise

I’ve been in a bit of funk for a little while now. Can’t explain it, just one of those things really. But, unlike half of my Facebook friends, I don’t believe in airing my laundry, dirty or otherwise, out in public. I’m not looking for sympathy or anything like that. We all have problems, we all go through funks, what makes mine worthy of attention? Sadly, my writing always suffers when I get in these moods. Really it’s just a general malaise, nothing serious. You know, just a BLAH kind of feeling.

But I still laugh a lot and am overall very happy. Just have no desire to be creative, which is the worst.

But, and here’s where you can all hate me again … I was looking at the website of the company who is hosting me and my friend Kim on a safari this summer … and that, of course, cheered me up exponentially.

I know what you’re thinking, “Penguin, you went on safari last year!” Yes I did. And I loved it. But my friend Kim is just as Africa mad as I am and it will be nice to travel with someone who sees the country the same way I do. That is important I think. I’ll be honest: I’m very easy to travel with. Let me take my hundreds of photos and we’ll get along well.

We are going back to Kruger National Park in South Africa. Kim has been there before but not as recently as I have. This time I’m seeing a part of the park I’ve never seen. And perhaps more importantly (or impressively if this sort of thing floats your boat), I’m staying at places a little more upmarket and luxurious than I normally would.

Last time out I did see two leopards, which was amazing, but I still don’t have that one leopard photo I would print off and hang on my wall. The cheeky little buggers didn’t want to look at me when I was in photo range. I need to change that. And Africa always calls to me. And I always listen. ALWAYS. Might as well take advantage of my proximity to it while I’m in the Middle East because I won’t be here forever.

This August (yes I know, I went in August last year), I will be taking advantage of the offerings that the great people at Sun Destinations have for me (www.sundestinations.co.za). I should say “we”, cause I’m pretty sure if they have these offerings for me, they’ll have them for Kim and the other people staying at the two lodges we will be calling home in late August.

The first one is the nThambo Tree Camp (www.nthambo.com), in the Klaserie Private Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park and shares unfenced borders with Kruger itself and other smaller private reserves. Private reserves are better to visit because they have a limit on the number of vehicles in the reserve (ensuring a bit more privacy and possibly more intimate animal encounters), and the private reserves do not limit you to paved or gravel roads (you can cut through the bush down paths elephants have made), and the most important thing … the famed bush walk.

There are only 5 chalets at nThambo, each one sleeping 2 people, so it is a smaller camp that specializes in making guests feel at home. Apparently, and according to videos and photos on the website, elephants like to use the plunge pool for drinking water! That would be pretty cool. The chalets are all at treetop level, offering different views of the plains that stretch out around the camp. And since there are no fences around the property, animals are free to roam around, and it is recommended and necessary that rangers walk guests to their chalets at night, as any number of animals – lions, leopards, hyena, rhino, etc. – could be wandering around enjoying the scenery. This really excites me.

After 3 nights here, we’ll be off to Africa on Foot (www.africaonfoot.com), for another 3 nights. Africa on Foot, as the name suggests, specializes in walking safaris, and each morning will be spent with armed rangers, exploring the area and getting as close to animals as safely possibly. Having done a walk before, this will be the highlight for me (unless I see leopards on the game drives).

Like nThambo, the property is unfenced and again the rangers need to walk you to your chalet after dark. Rumor has it there are two resident honey badgers that call the property home and are usually seen hanging out at various times of the day. The honey badger is mythic in stature so that would be a great treat.

Another interesting facet of this camp is their very own specialized treehouse that guests can book. The treehouse is away from the main camp, has no floor to thatched roof walls (only about 4 foot high), and is open to the elements. Armed rangers walk you to the treehouse at night, and you lie there, the breeze coming through the non-existent windows, the sounds of the animals all around you. Not sure how much sleep I’ll get as my writer’s mind races with the thoughts of what is out there and “just how quickly can leopards climb stairs”. August 28, in case you were wondering. That is the night I’ll hopefully fill 4 pages of diary about.

I recommend looking at the websites of each camp to fully get the feel of the places. I’d put photos on but I want to take my own ones (so you’ll have to wait until September for those). In times of great funk (and not funk as played by George Clinton, Wild Cherry, or Rick James), we all need something to look forward to. And there’s nothing like an African safari that gets me eyes wide and hopefully.



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