“Anne”, I whisper in my niece’s ear. “Wakey, wakey. I have run you a hot bath”.
It is our first morning at Kwafubesi Tented Safari Camp and, stirring wearily, Anne is slowly emerging from the warmth of the blankets. It was cold last night, beneath the clear moon-lit autumn sky, but very comfy beneath the electric blankets.
Having made us a quick cuppa in our safari tent, I load the now fully charged battery into my camera and grab an extra layer of warm clothing in preparation for our morning game drive. It’s been cold; a definite winter spell so we have decided not to head out on an early, pre-dawn safari, but rather to enjoy a full breakfast first, and then leave the camp when the sun is up.
About half an hour later we are ready to go and, sliding down the zipper of the tent canvas, we step out onto the deck and into the sparkling fresh morning.
The deep, olive green vehicle is already parked in front of the entrance and Taylor welcomes us, clad, himself, in a thick bush jacket. He and Tannah are the only staff members who are actually staying in their own little place close to the camp, so he has already been up and down to Mabula Game Lodge to fetch the staff members for the early morning shift.
Chef Johannes is back on duty and has waved his culinary magic wand once more. Our breakfast, consisting of fruits, granola and yoghurt plus delicious cold delis, along with our choice of eggs, has been magnificently well-prepared and presented; definitely on par with a five-star hotel in any major metropolis. We are quite curious about him and have a chat inside the restaurant. His eyes light up when we compliment him on his cooking skills and prompt him to share some of his experiences about being a chef in the bush. He seems almost a little baffled when I ask him about it, and simply says, “I am only happy when I am in the kitchen!”
We eventually head out onto the open plains at around 9:30 am and, after a relatively quiet drive, stop a few meters away from two wildebeest who are affectionately nuzzling one another repeatedly.
By lunchtime, it has become pleasantly warm. We relax by the pool on the loungers bedecked with rolled-up blue and white towels and enjoy a cool drink from the bar before settling down for yet another fabulous meal. Chef Kevin, whom we met on our arrival yesterday, is now back at the helm. His spinach and feta Kʼicheʼ, S-shaped home-baked soft bread roll and salad strung together by a slice of cucumber look so good I have to take a picture of it.
A couple of hours later and we are back out in the bush. Cruising along in the game drive vehicle, Taylor rounds a bend in the road to encounter a rhino and her calf, dead smack in the middle of it. The scene is one of peaceful slumber; an afternoon nap in the still warm sunshine. Mum is facing the other way, while her cute, but burly baby, is facing us, trying to get comfortable. As we watch them, a rasping, trumpet-like noise emanates from rhino mum and we suppress our giggles as the scent wafts on the wind towards us.
This has got to be a first. I can now speak from experience: these magnificent animals produce magnificent body odours!
Another unusual sighting is when we stop for sundowners at one of the Mabula Game Reserve dams. Just as Taylor sets up the wooden fold-out picnic table with drinks, a hippo surfaces in the middle of the dam and appears to be making his way towards us. Standing by the water’s edge, Anne and I can see that he is clearly watching us. Surrounded by sparkling ripples cast by the setting afternoon light, the hippo stops and stays quite still for a very short while before raising his head and propelling his heavy upper torso from the water. We are quite baffled, including Taylor.
Photographically speaking, I miss the moment, but I do manage to snap a few pics when he opens his mouth open to display an impressive set of teeth.
It is so nice, we muse, when we have once again returned to camp and are sitting by the fire, to see so many unusual aspects of interesting animal behaviour. As darkness descends over Kwafubesi Tented Safari Camp, and we are back inside the comforts of our tent for the night, I cannot help feeling that I have pretty much fallen in love with this rustic little camp that offers so much intimacy and charm.