Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Bushveld

The last stop on our road trip was the Kruger National Park.
We stayed at the Rhino Post Lodge for one night, and at the Plains Camp for three.
The Rhino Post (B) is a concession northeast of Skukuza (A). And again, we were the only people staying for the first 3 nights.

(Link to Google Maps)

It's really difficult to write something concise about this experience because every moment was so amazing; from the lightning and thunder one night on the plain to the architecture of the accommodations, everything is worthy of description.

(Gabion for the walls at Rhino Post - such a harsh construction style that is turned into something straight and soft by tying it into the raw wood and canvas of the other walls.)

(The detail of the wall hanging above, for my Mom and Aunt.)

Lounge at Rhino Post Lodge
(The lounge.)

(The wine room.)

Lounge deck at Rhino Post Lodge
(The view from the Rhino Post deck that overlooks the river.)

The way Rhino Post and Plains Camp organize your day, is that you are up at sunrise for a drive (if you're staying in the lodge) or a walk (if you're staying at the camp). You come back at around 10:30 am for brunch, and then you take a rest until 3:00pm. After some high tea, you head out for a drive that includes "sundowners" somewhere interesting at sunset, and then you get a taste of the night at the game reserve as you drive back to camp.

(One-eye staring us down.)

This schedule really works to give you the most of the experience.


During our drives, we saw pretty much everything that you would want to see.
There had been a lot of rain, and the bushveld was green. There were lots of babies everywhere...






I have never walked in the game reserve before, and it was on my "life list." We went with a lead ranger, Bernard, and a "backup rifle," James.

Bernard, James (Rangers), and Lisa
(James was ALWAYS right behind Bernard.)

Bernard (Ranger)

Each day on our walk we learned something about how the animals live. This really added a depth to what you look at when you are in the bush. Instead of seeing trees and growth as obstacles, you realize that there are trails and tracks and clues. We learned about how male white rhinos "toilet", stomp around in it, and then walk the perimeter of their territory. I would never have given these "mud piles" a second thought before.

Rhino Toilet

Something else I realized was that I started feeling like I'd seen much more than we had because seeing the EVIDENCE had given me the impression of actually seeing. This must be my training as an archaeologist. You don't ever see the people you study, you just see their evidence. With that said, we saw porcupine (the dug-up half eaten bulb of a lily), and the rare and elusive black rhino (their dung has sticks because they are browsers, and they use the same "toilet" as the white rhinos, who are grazers).

Our daily walks were mostly peaceful with snack breaks at picturesque spots.

Water hole

A quick rest at water hole

But each day, our rangers tracked one of The Big Five. On day 1 we had a fun interaction with a buffalo (more on that tomorrow).

On day 2 we spent a long time following a rhino mom and her baby. When we finally came upon them, we were SO close!

On day 3, the last day, we saw two elephants.
(can you see it in the back?)

I was nervous the first day out walking, but after about an hour of seeing nothing but trees, bushes, and bugs, I realized that Bernard was in control of what we were doing, and my fear went away. By the time we did see some animals, I knew that we had approached them from the angle he wanted, and he knew exactly what he was doing.


In the afternoons it was luxurious to nap in the tents, sit under a tree and look at the baboons and wildebeest cross the plain, and just enjoy the serene sounds of the bush in the heat of the day.




The Lounge at Plains Camp
(After the "African Safari" theme of the Lodge, the "Imperialist Colonial Explorer Camp" theme of Plains Camp was a little shocking at first. I couldn't help but laugh every time I walked into this lounge.)

Since we were the only guests for two of the nights, Bernard joined us for dinner. It was great listening to his stories about growing up and living in the area, and the work it takes to become a lead ranger. We felt so far away from work, TV, computers, and the complicated technology of our Phones. We really enjoyed this experience and would highly recommend.


There are obviously, a LOT more pictures, so let me know if you want to see more.
Next post will be some videos.

one last thing...
Here's a photo of the skin, belt and knife of Harry Wolhuter. One of the resonating stories of life in early Africa.
Artifacts of Wolhuter's Survival (

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