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Zebula Game Drive

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 22 February 2013 | Views [1008] | Comments [1]

Zebula - Chris & Kristen en route to the elephants

Zebula - Chris & Kristen en route to the elephants

We ventured off to Zebula again today, 5 volunteers and Silke heading off into the early morning in readiness for a 3 hour game drive. Rodney, our guide, was waiting for us and we piled into an 11-seater game viewing truck – not unlike those seen on the recent TV series ‘Wild at Heart’.

Our first stop was beside a female (and therefore fruit bearing) Marula tree - perhaps better known for its liqueur Amarula. I am going to have to contradict an earlier post when I extolled the virtues of an old film called Beautiful People that was made in South Africa. The reality is that ripening fruit falls to be the ground (where it cannot ferment there being no yeast present) and if left, will simply rot. Many animals do like the fruit which, although quite bitter, contains around six times as much vitamin C as an orange. For filming purposes, and in conjunction with veterinary experts, carefully controlled amounts of tranquilizer (Ketamine) was injected into the fruit thereby giving the appearance of the animals getting drunk. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions…

I have always admired the instinctive way a person, trained and passionate about the bush, can see and understand so much that is easy to miss to the uninitiated. How far away we have come from our roots! We saw evidence of buffalo, although their spoor and dung was the full extent of their presence.  The morning heat was enough to ensure that most animals were already seeking shade, and despite recent rain, many of the watering holes were dry. We saw Golden Orb spiders and admired the strength and intricacy of their webs – the strongest fibre known to man. Impala, Red Haartebeeste, Wildebeeste, Kudu, Nyola, Waterbuck and Blesbok were plentiful, along with zebra and warthog. Just a small note of contention with Disney’s researchers on warthog – Pumba from The Lion King is in actual fact a female warthog as she/he only has two facial warts whereas the males actually have four!

Rodney explained some of the medicinal uses for many of the trees which is a subject that greatly interests me. For many years this knowledge has been handed down through the generations and yet now pharmaceutical giants choose to dismiss the validity of many natural remedies whilst using some ingredients themselves. I can see no way that healthcare and money make happy bed fellows.

The highlights of the game drive for me were the white rhino and her baby sitting just out of clear photographic reach and the giraffes who seemed content to let us snap away. Next time, however, I will remember to check the battery level on my camera!!

While the other girls were doing the elephant and cheetah experience, I went to the spa and enjoyed a much needed express facial. The combination of sunscreen, dust and sweat washed off with sandy river water does not make for the best complexion. The 30 minute reflexology session was also much appreciated. We finished lunch just before the threatening clouds fully deposited their heavy load over Limpopo Province.

I was very fortunate to get up close and personal with their 3 white lion cubs which are around 2 weeks older than those at Bambelela and yet weight substantially less. Their paws are massive and it’s not hard to imagine the size they will grow to be as adults! Their fur was notably less woolly and I did not notice the very distinctive musky lion scent that you cannot fail to miss with ours.

Zebula is a 5 star golf and spa lodge and appears (to a day tripping volunteer at least) an oasis in the middle of the African bushveld. The tours were excellent, as were the spa treatments. My only disappointment was the lack of ice cream and therefore lack of smoothies and the cocktails we had so thoroughly enjoyed last time.

The hour long return trip to Bambelela was broken by a quick stop at the supermarket. We stocked up on fruit and ice cream in preparation for another volunteer house treat and compensation for the much hyped-up but sadly unavailable fruit smoothies.

I love being out in the bush, feeling the hot sun on my face, the warm breeze in my hair and allowing myself to totally submerge into Africa. I've heard it said that Africa is like malaria, once it is in your blood, it never leaves. In the nicest possible way, I couldn’t agree more.


Tags: africa, bush, game drive, giraffes, local medicine, rhino, spa, white lions



OMG.................Pumba is a girrrrrrl!!!!! devo haha!!!
Ms M it seems you are totally free of england now and the african queen is back!! I am so pleased for you and love every blog and pic.....one day i promise i will come meet you somewhere on your adventure!!
keep blogging and re-finding your roots.
lots of love and more happiness xx

  JJ Feb 23, 2013 6:50 AM

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