Mike and Fiona are repeat guests at nThambo Tree Camp. They decided to give us a run down of what to expect on safari. Going on safari is not only about tracking wildlife, it’s about the entire experience from making friends to sitting around the campfire and learning about Africa from khaki-clad rangers.
“Well I’ve told you all about the wonderful sightings we’ve seen here at nThambo Tree Camp. So today I’m going to do something a little different – explain a daily routine here in camp:
After a comfortable night under the luxurious covers, the day starts early. 5.30am there is a knock on the tent and a ‘good morning’ from the ranger. We quickly get showered and dressed and walk tentatively from the tree house to the lounge, looking in the early morning light to see what is around (the lodge is unfenced so any animals could have walked into camp overnight).
We get to the lounge and treat ourselves to warm drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate) and South African rusks (remember to dunk them in your drink otherwise you’ll need a visit to the dentist when you get home). 6.00am and it’s time for the game drive. We all eagerly jump onto the open Land Rover, waiting for the ‘game drive to begin’. The seasons are changing at the moment, it’s now going into Winter where the early mornings and late afternoons can get very chilly when the hot sun is not around. Therefore a good warm coat is essential.
Matt the ranger explains the does and don’t of driving through the bush, whilst Enoch, our tracker, sits on the ‘tracker seat’ on the front of the vehicle preparing to look for animal tracks. After all the formalities, we set off on our way, hopeful of what we are going to see. The drive lasts approximately 3 hours, with a stop along the way at some nice spot for morning drinks break (hot drinks and freshly cooked muffins – yum). Whenever animals are spotted, or tracked, we stay for as long as possible – sometimes just a brief glimpse or maybe even up to an hour!
Back at camp its time for breakfast, cooked by the ‘girls’ – Happiness, Anna and Katrina . Firstly cold breakfast of cereal, fruit and yoghurt. Many people feast themselves on this, unaware that there is more to come. Next is cooked breakfast – different every day, but typically, eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, toast etc.
Sitting together guests, ranger and tracker talk about what has been seen on the morning drive. Then the rest of the day is yours to enjoy. You can relax by the pool, even taking a dip to cool off on a hot day. Or you can read a book, either one of your own or a selection of ‘exchange books’ left by previous guests. If you are tired you can just chill and sleep in your room. For those ‘eager guests’ you can also coerce your ranger into a short bush walk before lunch. Poor Matt has been on a few so far on our visit. It’s nice to see the small things like animal droppings, tracks, flowers, plants and birds – with the ranger explaining lots of interesting facts along the way.
‘Light’ lunch is served at 3.00pm ready to fuel ourselves for the game drive ahead. Then a quick change ready for the evening drive at 4.00pm. Not forgetting to take the warm coat with us for when the sun goes down. We all get on the vehicle again and head off into the bush to see what we can see. Packed nicely in the hamper are our ‘sundowners’ – alcoholic beverages of our choice (gin and tonic, brandy and coke, beer, or a nice vintage wine to name a few), and snacks to be taken when we stop again at some scenic viewpoint to watch the sun set.
Back again at camp we are greeted by Lilly, our hostess, with warm towels and a shot of liqueur to warm us up – it’s normally sherry, kahlua, frangelico or amarula. In camp there is the roaring fire (bush tv’ ) in the boma where we all congregate. Drinks are served and we all reminisce the wonderful day we have had. If the sky is clear we can also look up to the stars, which are unbelievable compared to back home in the UK. ‘African wonder’ that cannot be described, but is a must see on any ‘bucket list’.
Dinner is then served – a 3 course culinary delight, ranging from local delicacies of impala fillet, bobotie, Potjie pots, or a classic South African Braai. Followed by more drinks and good banter between guests, ranger, tracker and hostess. The evening ends when you want to return to your tent – remembering to let your ranger walk you back to your tent with the spotlight so that you can look out for shining eyes from animals that may be lurking en route.
Then it all begins again, remembering no 2 days in the bush are ever the same!! Some don’t put it off, book the leave, flights and come to South Africa yourselves to experience a safari – you won’t be disappointed.”