From a gangsters paradise to heaven on earth
Trip Start Jun 14, 2011
70Trip End Sep 21, 2011
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The last thing I remember seeing last night was thousands of stars as I looked up towards the heavens above me. I was nestled between luxurious sheets in a four poster bed and the milky way.
Jonas woke me about 2 a.m -" honey wake up there is a giraffe beside you. " The winds had picked up from the still night that we had drifted off to and we laid still for moment listening to the animals moving about around us. When it quieted down, we pushed the doors aside and rolled our king size bed back inside the tree house.
Yesterday we arrived at the Pezulu tree house lodge in greater kruger park. Pezulu is a small exclusive original tree house lodge situated in the Guernsey private game reserve in Limpopo province of south Africa. In Zulu language, Pezulu means "high". We arrived at the airport in joburg and boarded our plane on time and all seemed well. we were excited and the propellers started and we taxied down the run way, but just before take off we slowed down and we were grounded due to technical difficulties. It was dealt with swiftly and within 1.5 hours we were tucked in safely in a new plane and rose above the city and entered into another Africa. coming in for a landing was a amazing, it is a small small airport and we saw herds of animals.
We were greeted by Claud one of the owners of Pezulu, a man from luxenburg (former insurance man) who decided 6 years ago to make a change. He moved here with his wife and they now run this place.
Enroute to the lodge we passed by giraffes, zebras and lots of baboons as well as warthogs and antelopes. At one point as we were driving down the dirt road a giraffe was lazily strolling in front of of us.
Arriving at the lodge was amazing, There are only 8 tree houses and the pick of the crop is the Dream house. On the plane over there we actually saw an article featuring this place as one of the top 7 places to stay in all of Africa, and there it was mentioned that the Dream house was the most amazing and I have to agree. It is just that a Dream Tree house. It is built around two giant marula trees, and is equipped with a large corner jacuzzi. It has a separate walkway to an incredible double out door shower and a giant deck overlooking a watering hole where the wild animals gather to drink. The children have a separate part of the house with bunk beds and we have a large four poster bed that is built on wheels. The whole side of the tree house is glass. The glass door slides open and you can roll your bed out onto the deck and sleep under the African sky.
We got settled in our tree house and Claud said that tonight was a perfect night to sleep outdoor as there sky was cloudless and it was warm.
At about 6 we headed to the game lodge and climbed out to the look out tower, we ordered a bottle of champagne and watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen over the African mountains. The sun is such a deep red and it lashes out colors across the sky in a way I have never seen. The calm in the air and the silence is enormous. At around 7 we gathered around a large fire in the boma and were served an amazing meal. Onion soup to start, salad and whole spread of meats, potatoes, sausage and vegetables. It was so good. Mikael was a to tired to stay for dessert so we went back up to our tree house. When we got there they had already prepared our beds for us and rolled our bed out onto the deck.
The kids were a sleep with in minutes and we were not that far behind. We laid there in silence and in awh at this amazing beauty spread out before us. The night air so soothing and the sounds of animals all around.
When the sun broke through this morning and shed it's first rays across the plains before us I peeked out from the covers and saw three zebras drinking from the watering hole. Moments later they were joined by giraffe's there we 8 of them, one was a baby. It was beautiful. The baby was cuddling her mother the whole time. Following close behind and nuzzling and the mamma possessively stayed within reach at all times. Maija and Mikael joined us in bed and we just stared. It was a feeling unlike no other. We have seen so much violence, so much peace, perseverance and destruction, human kindness and evils and to think that there are still places like this in the world....We were submerged in an underwater paradise in Tahiti and the Galapagos and here we are in an equally breathtaking vision on land.
I am now sitting out on our porch, listening to the birds and I just watched 3 large monkeys run across to the lodge. I showered outside and it was like being one with the surroundings. Everything is built echo friendly and around all the indigenous trees. Spring is around the corner here and both inside our treehouse and out there are buds of fresh leaves pushing their way through with new life and new beginnings. What a fitting place to begin the end of our journey. It is a place of peace and contemplation... three warthogs just came strolling up , hey there is another one... this world is spectacular.!
The Big Five
we spent some time relaxing around this incredible lodge, the kids went for a swim we went for a bush walk and had lunch. We spoke to guests and Mikael made new friends. We had booked a Big 5 Game drive for sunset and we left here shortly before 4 p.m. It was hot and still a clear blue sky. we were met by a ranger and spotter in their large open top range rover. It was only the 4 of us and two Norwegian guys, our guide/driver and spotter who sat up front in a stool on the hood looking for tracks and listening for sounds from the bush. Our expectations were low as we had spoken with others who had been on game drivers for 5 days and still had only spotted 2 or 3 of the big 5 but there was plenty of other animals and birds to see. The colours of the bush change with each hour here, the shades deepen and a golden hue spreads across the landscape as the sun begins it's daily retreat. The night air was warm and the smell of the bush so free. We drove for a short while and we spotted plenty of birds and Impalas, warthogs and even a hare but we kept on trucking as this was a big 5 drive...all of a sudden he slows down and almost next to us is a very large African elephant. He is in heat and is spraying as he is walking and he in one impressive site..moments later a female and her baby make their entrance and soon we are sitting very still in our vehicle next to a herd of Elephants. we saw great Asian Elephants in Thailand and even rode them there, but this is different. These are wild, these are Huge , these are African Elephants. How can I explain the feeling? I don't even have a proper computer to write on, I am trying to type this on a touch and it's not easy, and how can I even being to describe the feeling of sitting there and watching these giant animals go about their day as if we were completely insignificant. We stayed there for a while just looking in silence. And then the rover was off again, we were all bubbling with excitement and that would have been enough for the day...the sun and the sky changing colors with every second passing. All of a sudden there are some tracks and we begging to follow...we are told to be quiet and the land rover backs up into the wilderness smacking branches in our hair and faces and the truck stops. Not more than a meter away from Maija is a large male lion. I instinctively put my arms around here and her eyes fill with tears. I can feel here quivering and she whispers "mamma I want to go" I try to scoot over her to get into the seat by the lion, tucking her further away into safety. Our ranger has his rifle at hand and Jonas who is in the row before us uses his back to cover Mikael. The lion looks up at us and yawns...and I snap pictures. The sun warm setting rays make the lions mane look like it is spun with golden thread, reflecting the light. I have seen lions in captivity and even at the lion park just a few days ago, but never like this. I have to admit I was a bit frightened as well but the adrenaline was pumping and you get wrapped up in the moment of witnessing the glorious beauty before you. Maija relaxed a bit and actually smiled...and after a while we backed out of the bush and on to the little dirt road and headed on deeper into the bush. WOw 2 out of the five in just the first hour and and half, we were amazed and excited. We trucked along for a while and then another vehicle radioed our guide they had spotted the white rhino by one of the many watering holes. We arrived there just as sun was reflecting these giant beast in the water below them ,the angel was perfect and their beauty enormous. There were many of them as well as a rhino baby. Rhino poaching is still killing one rhino every 2 days here. The horn is used in Asian aphrodisiacs and other "potions" to enhance sexuality, it is vial. There are still no official laws agains hunting the big 5 here in SA, but there is one now prohibiting the hunt of the rhino there are only approx 300 black rhino's left and 3500 white rhino's. It takes me back to the shark fins, they leave the rest of the animal and take just the tusk's, horrific. These animals are beautiful and the sunset game drive was insane, with the colors even on the dry and bare bush. A dry grey tree branch would change from dull to golden to red with in 30 minutes.
We drove on and only moments later did we arrive at another watering hole where two water buffalo's we drinking. Their helmet like horns are like guard's of the bush. They looked up at us a suspiciously before bending down for another drink and slowly walking off...4 out of 5 !
THe only one left was the leopard and leopards are the most difficult to spot. they are elusive and extremely well camouflaged. Leopards are nocturnal and highly endangered. Even our ranger had not seen one for 3 months and we were getting ready to watch the last few remaining rays call it a day behind the colorful horizon, then our spotter held up his hand and points deep into the bush, our vehicle crawls into the wilderness slowly creeping and there in a small clearing he sits, the Leopard. Beautiful, strong, sleek and ready to hunt. He crouches and crawls along the dry grass land and there we see his soon to be prey, an impala. We watch him for a long while as he is getting ready for the kill, but then the sun disappears and in just moments the friendly night sky and warm air has turned in to darkness and a cold breeze brushes across us. We have to start heading out. The excitement has brought us much deeper into the reserve then planned and time is running out. we make our way our of the heavy bush and onto the dirt road and start heading back. Mikael has to go to the bath room and our guide tell us there is a spot about 5 min away that is safe to stop. We reach that spot and there is a large Elephant there, he cant believe it and neither can we, it is not safe to stop so we keep going , he says there is another spot not far...then there is a herd of water buffalo in the middle of the dirt road.. not only did we see all the big 5 we would see them again in the dark. After about 30 minutes or so we pull over. Mikael gets to do his thing and we are served hot tea and biscuits. THe stars are lighting the way for us and there are several "star" like eyes poking throughout the bushes at us, but somehow you feel at ease and part of the bigger picture being there under that large sky.
When we finally made out way back to camp we were very late but we were greeted by the Pezulu staff with a shot of whiskey and hot chocolate for the kids. The fire was going and food was cooking. We were the only ones to have seen all the big 5 in one drive and we are feeling truly blessed. We had an amazing evening with wine a bush talk around the fire and the food here is amazing!
tomorrow morning we are going on a sunrise big 5 drive and we will see if we will be lucky enough to spot the cheetah.
I wish I could paint you a picture to evoke the emotion or send you a glimpse into what our day was like, but it is simply impossible to relay.
How beautiful our earth is!