Wednesday, February 10, 2016

South Africa: Mabula Game Lodge

I kept repeating lyrics from Under African Skies by Paul Simon pretty often during our weekend in the Limpopo province of South Africa. I have always liked the lyrics specifically and the song in general, but being a perpetual sky watcher I get it when people talk about walking under certain skies.

His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African Skies

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

I think everyone is proprietary about having the prettiest sunrises and sunsets under their own particular sky, and our game driver was no different. She was proud of her South African skies, and I don't blame her. One of my favorite things about vacation is seeing the sunrise and set in a different location. See the sunrise in Cape Town was on my 40/40 list, but I actually did it here instead and it was glorious:
Sunday morning we flew from Cape Town back up to Jo'Burg, then boarded a bus for a little over two hours to the Mabula Game Lodge. Our flight was a little late leaving Cape Town, and we had a frazzled get luggage get lunch board the bus get the hell on the road early afternoon that left us feeling a little drained. We basically had time to go to the bathroom upon arrival before heading out for our first game drive.

Mabula is a 30,000 acre wild game preserve in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province. The closest town is Bela Bela. It is not completely open like Krueger National Park is. It is free of malaria. We went on two morning game drives, leaving at 4:45 a.m., and two evening game drives leaving at 4:30 p.m. It has a nice lobby with seating areas, a bar area that can be quiet (aside from the insane frogs making their presence known at night) or lively depending on who is bellied up to it, one large dining room (okay food), and rooms off the main courtyard that is sometimes inhabited by funny little warthogs. The rooms had high ceilings, thatched roofs, and large/cool bathrooms. The air had a hard time keeping up and the nights were pretty hot.
To be honest, I could have seen  no animals and still have been happy just riding around in the open air rovers for two days enjoying the wind on my face, the green everywhere, the cool trees, and the glorious skies. The early morning and early evening drives and open air cars with covered roofs kept it from being too hot, being in a malaria-free zone made it much less arduous than a typical safari, and I expected to take more pictures but I was honestly content to sit back and relax and enjoy the rides.
Of course, we did see animals. My favorite elephants were on a tree tearing down rampage high up on the hill so we didn't see them in their full glory, and the lions were sleeping as they are wont to do 20 hours a day so we saw elephants and lions at a distance. Otherwise we saw zebra, crocodile, hippos, rhinos, kudu, impala, ostrich, cape water buffalo, giraffe, warthogs, wildebeests, baboons, and many birds, including the endangered ground hornbill. I'm sure MFD could name some more as he's Mr. National Geographic. No leopards or cheetahs were spied.
We did have some time to relax, which we spent partially by the pool and partially in the spa. I had the best massage I've ever had in my life there. No lie.
MFD also used his free time after our last game drive to go on a horseback safari. The man has never ridden a horse and came back looking like Clark Griswold after he walked across the desert in Vacation. It was HOT there. LOL. He did well though and enjoyed it.
I used the last day spare time to shower extra long so I was not the source of BO on the flight back, put on an eye mask, pack my shit, and mentally prepare for the 2.5 hour ride to the airport (in what turned out to be a bus leaking diesel fuel), the two hour flight way and security fuckery at Jo'Burg airport, the 18 hour flight back to D.C., and the 3 hour drive home to Philly. I had memories of beauty and freedom and African skies to sustain me.
This is going to do it for the South Africa posts. If you missed them, here are links to Cape Town and the Peninsula Tour. Thanks for travelling along with me.

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Linking up for Wanderlust Wednesdays with Kate, Emily, and Kerri

Wanderlust Wednesdays

37 comments:

  1. Random but you said it was Malaria free - are other areas not? That pool looks like heaven! What an experience! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  2. You were able to get some really great shots of all the animals! Also, that is the cutest little tub!

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  3. What an amazing end to that trip! Your photos are incredible so I can see how they helped you maintain your composure during all of the "fuckery" travel that was involved haha

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  4. ah south africa is so on my list! i have a good friend who grew up there and speaks about it often. just makes me need to visit it that much sooner! and look at those animals! love

    xoxo cheshire kat

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  5. Such a pleasure and delight to read this. You two make the most of your trips. Love that Mike Doyle went horseback riding and your description ! Love the malaria free situation !
    I thought I loved the beach blog the best but I love them all. Oh, the places you go. This is a dream come true! Love. Your. Momma

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  6. Wow what beautiful trips. I love all the pictures of the animals.

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  7. Oh. my. gosh. This looks amazing! I spent one short week in Cape Town and didn't get outside the city much, except to wine country. This would definitely be worth a trip back!

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  8. this seriously looks so amazing and gorgeous. what a fabulous experience to see all those animals, and i love what you said about being relaxed and enjoying the ride regardless of animals. it would be so amazing to be close to so many animals though. maybe one day! the pool and massage area look super awesome as well. might have to go just for that haha.

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  9. oh my! Such a beautiful place and I do also love looking at sunsets and sunrises from different parts of the world. Sounds like you got to see a ton of safari animals and LOL @ MFD's horseback riding adventures. He's brave!

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  10. My heart actually leapt when I saw the photo of the giraffe! She's beautiful!!

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  11. I have never been so jealous of someone's vacation photos! It sounds so amazing!

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  12. i LOVE those photos!! so glad you had a chance to chill out/go to the spa.

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  13. Looking like Clark Griswald - I totally laughed at that.
    I know me -I'd be a crying mess seeing all the animals out there. What an experience.

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  14. There's something that being under a totally different set of stars that does it for me. And those skies look incredible! What a sunset. Sounds like you had a great setup with the open air rides, pool time and malaria-free-ness. And all the animals, obviously... What a brilliant trip.

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  15. The photos are gorgeous- I cannot fathom seeing all of this in person! A safari tour like that is definitely on my dream list. I mean, Disney's Animal Kingdom makes you feel like you're out in the wilderness, but I need the real thing :)

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  16. I want to go on a Safari so bad! This place looks awesome. I'll have to make a note of it.

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  17. "It is free from malaria". SOLD.

    Everything else is wonderful, too.

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  18. Awesome!!! The food was GOOD... At least I thought. Except for the bones.

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  19. So so cool. I love to see animals but can totally see just the beauty in nature there. such an incredible trip. I need to add this to my bucket list.

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  20. I love your recaps. I kind of feel like I was there. Are the animals just roaming around freely where you were? Like I'm thinking could a lion just swagger on over to the pool? Lol... paranoid I know but I would be the one to get eaten.

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  21. I can't even imagine seeing all of those animals in their natural habitat, and that's too funny that the elephants were on a tree tearing down rampage! Your hotel looks amazing, and hooray for getting some time to relax while on vacation with a fantastic massage! And your guide had every right to be proud, that sunrise is gorgeous!

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  22. Man!!! That sky is amazing. The image with the tree in the middle of it is to die for. So gorgeous. And little warthogs!!! WHAT! I want to see. While I would want to see so many animals (and I get you did too), I do get what you're saying that the ride itself was enough because that looks completely fabulous. but WOW to the animals, ah!!! I am seriously over here drooling at the pictures you have. How cool to see rhinos! And Lions! Just wow. Love MFD laying in the pool, lol. Thanks for sharing those African skies with us too!

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  23. I love the sky pictures all of them!

    I want to do a horse back safari that sounds awesome but maybe a little scary since you're not really protected.

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  24. As if this trip couldn't get more amazing... open air safari, beautiful pools, and an incredible massage?! I can't wait to see it all someday! And LOL at poor MFD coming back looking like Clark Griswold after going through the dessert :-P

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  25. The best massage of your life?! Wow. Africa is moving higher and higher up my list of places I must go.

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  26. That sunrise is just spectacular! Reminds me a little of the Lion King with that tree! Clark Griswold LOL!!!! I cant even begin to imagine seeing all of those animals. That is so stinking cool!!! I would have been like I am sorry but the elephants must come down to me...make them stop tearing down the trees! I just really love elephants. They fascinate me. As do penguins...

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  27. Wow. Seriously amazing photos. What a trio of a lifetime!!

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  28. What an amazing way to end your trip. This sounds absolutely amazing. I love the pictures of all the animals, especially the giraffe. It's got to be totally amazing to see them in their natural surroundings. When we went on vacation in the fall Matt rode a horse for the first time in his life. It was a hilarious experience for all involved lol!

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  29. That sky... straight up outta Lion King!
    Hahahahah... the frogs... oh my gosh I swear the frogs are INSANE at my mom's house. INSANE. There's like a littler marshy/swampy area in her back yard/woods that they LOVE. I have fallen asleep (and been kept up!) many nights to the sound of that, lol
    That tub looks AMAZING!
    LOLOLOL MFD AKA Clark!!!!!

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  30. lol. Mr. National Geogrpahic and Clark Griswald. hilarious.

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  31. Love love love all the animals you got to see! I think I would've done the horseback riding as well, especially if I'd never done it before- what a place to try it! That open air safari sounds pretty amazing. Being hot while sleeping sounds absolutely dreadful, but thatched roofs is pretty cool!

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  32. Paul Simon is my love language. Those skies are incredible. Forget everything else. That's all I need. Love those big skies.

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  33. Man, it really is beautiful there. Perhaps it's because it's so open and so different. Love that you got to experience this part of the world and share it with us. It really does instill wanderlust . . .

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  34. Wow, these pictures are just stunning! One of my travel bucket list items is "go on an African safari," and I would be beyond thrilled if I saw as many animals as you did!

    The one thing that does scare me about going to Africa is the extreme heat. I hate being hot and sweaty, but I guess that's never really stopped me from going to other warm locations for vacations. I just imagine the African sun is a bitch.

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  35. I continue to be amazed by how stunning these photos are. Love that u got to visit there! I went on a safari tour in india and it was so fun!

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  36. Amazing pictures!!! The skies are beautiful. I can hear the opening song from The Lion King looking at all the animals. Haha! What a pretty room, but bummer that it was hot at night. I love that warthogs were just wandering around the hotel grounds!

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  37. When it is time for me to convince Justin that we need to go to S. Africa, this will be the post that I use first. Those skies! ALL THE ANIMALS! Even the ground hornbills, which terrify the shiz outta me. I'll never forget the time a random old man neighbor in my college apartment complex told me how the African sunrises brought him to his knees. I believe it and would love to see it one day!

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