Sad Safari , Sunbathing and Spa

Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another 5am call. In fact we received two and when we got to the main area we discovered that a couple from the German group had not had their's so likelihood a mix up somewhere. There was less grey cloud and even a corner of blue sky! Hurray - our first non wet game drive! Actually in hindsight, wet weather is good for animal viewing as they don't try and hide as much from the rain as they do with the sun. It's just not as pretty for photographs. This was probably the least exciting of our 4 game drives although the previous one with just us and Graeme, admittedly was pretty hard to beat.

Our first sighting was a male lion less than 2 years old. Graeme was particularly excited by this because he explained that this lion had been kicked out of the pride by his father (only enough room for one male ego type situation) but he was too young to be on his own really. His mother wouldn't have had enough time to pass on all her hunting prowess and because of this he was in a pretty vulnerable position having to rely on his own instinct. Apparently all the rangers at Shamwari were worried because of his situation and because they hadn't seen him in months but we had the privilege of seeing him basking in the tiny sliver of sunshine that was beginning to peek through.

We also saw a vervet monkey in a tree with two teeny tiny babies, almost new born. They were like those toys ( I don't know if you can still get them nor can I remember what they're called) but they were small and like monkeys with long arms and legs with thumbs and big toes that you can stick in their mouth. We encountered the two lionesses again, more giraffes and elephants - see how blasé I'm getting?! Stopped for morning tea and this time a quiche like snack and it was warm enough to take off a layer! This warmer weather really made me want to stay another night for at least another game drive.

As there had been so much rain there were only certain tracks that the rangers could drive on so on this drive we bumped into more vehicles than we ever had. In previous game drives we rarely saw other trucks. There was another one when we saw the cheetah and when we left there, others were coming up. The rangers communicate via radio and there are strict rules to have no more than 3 (ideally only 2) trucks around each sighting. Graeme mentioned that now in some of the big national parks, there can be half a dozen trucks round something which strikes me as making the experience a lot more zoo / safari park like.

As the weather was better, we could see that the fields were full of herds of antelope and we saw gemsbok for the first time. They are bigger than the impala with long straight horns and their faces have black and white markings like they're wearing masks.

Last breakfast at Shamwari and this time I had smoked ostrich and cream cheese on a bagel and Steve had bacon and feta fritters. At breakfast, we learnt that Gemma the journalist loved the place so much she was stopping another night...boy was I jealous! And I turned to Steve to see if it was possible and we thought about it and realised it would take too much re working as we'd have to cancel our next stop so we stopped ourselves from following suit but my heart wanted to so badly. I was so sad about having to pack up and leave. The next place had a lot to live up to after Shamwari!

I was sad so the sun came out to cheer me up and Steve drove us to Addo where we stayed at Woodall Country Spa Hotel. We checked in and the place was bathed in bright sunshine and the blossoms were fragrant so it was a relaxing and inviting atmosphere which made me feel a bit better about leaving Shamwari. If this place wasn't so inviting I think I'd have turned round and gone back! Our suite had a private pool and outdoor shower. The bathroom was very spacious with twin showers and a tub. It all looked very pleasant and we decided to spend some time in the sun as we'd missed it when on safari.

Soon it was time for our spa treatments which were so relaxing I pretty much snored through them! When I fall asleep during massages I always wonder if that's a waste of money or it's a sign of a good treatment...

Another quick blast of sun and we decided to get ready for our last evening meal! I hoped it would be better than the last meal the other couple at Colona Castle had! Remember them? We had G&Ts on the balcony watching the birds dart round the pond type thing that was there. We really missed Graeme though as we saw a huge bird perched on a pole and some very brightly coloured little fuzzy birds (bright yellow and scarlet) flitting around. The waiters had no idea what they were. As well as our G&Ts, there was a mini canapé buffet and they were so tasty.

Dinner was in between the rustic feel of the Old Mill in Swellendam and the more elegant Shamwari experience. We started with apple and gorgonzola soup (no gorgonzola for me), had smoked salmon salad as the fish course with a citrus dressing and then sorbet to cleanse the palate. I had chicken and prawn curry for my main course and Steve had lamb. We declined the cheese course as these portions were bigger than usual tasting menu portions and we were really getting full. Dessert was an orange and lemon creme caramel which I remember as being pretty good.

We decided to retire to the suite soon after as we were getting sleepy and I had a little Amarula nightcap there. I couldn't quite manage the early night as we discovered that there must be a nest with baby birds in the roof as they were chirping like crazy and it sounded like they were next to us! Thanks to the food and the best part of a bottle of pinotage, Steve slept through it all. But my lack of sleep came to serve me well the next day...
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