04 May 2018
We left from Jo'burg around 2pm and arrived at the main entrance around sun down at 6ish. My group arrived at the reserve a bit late at night because our driver took us to the wrong entrance initially. Definitely make sure they are going to the main gate because driving through to the other entrances requires offroading and the vans from airports do not really have the suspension for it. What really started the journey off on the right foot was the incredible staff meeting us at the main gate. Our guide, Malvin, greeted us with Biltong, Droëwors, local sparkling wine, and some hand mixed Gin and Tonics. The next thing he tells us is to look up at the sky since our eyes have probably adjusted by now. BOOM. It's the Milky Way in plain sight. I've only seen in a few times in my life and the view from the reserve was the clearest and most majestic vision of it I've seen yet. I'll make this easy. Malvin is someone I will always remember for really showing us the way.
Next morning, we begin safari early. Really early. THIS IS A BIG IMPORTANT TIP: if you are not about waking up early I suggest putting away the wine a little earlier than usual and going to sleep WAY earlier too. Safari is a healthier form of gambling. To increase the probability of amazing sightings you need patience and time to be out there a while. Your guide will use that time to show you around and track animals. More time, more animals. Starting bright and early either at 5am or 6am is super helpful and gives you time to nap when the lions do, during the hottest sun. Luckily, this is a fun easy level game. There are so many animals it is impossible to be disappointed!
Anyway, back to Safari! Bright and early we begun our journey and right away we see that the reserve is spotless and naturally kept and the animals are free and quite happy roaming as they like. We meet Ostriches, Rhinos, Elephants, Giraffes, Civet Cats, Spotted Owls, Enyala, Impala, Jackals, Zebra (pronounced ZehBruh for Americans), and then within the first hour of the morning tracking we get word of napping Lions. It was eye opening. I will let some of my photos speak for themselves but what I shall say is that you should prepare to fall in love with the planet we live on and gain plenty of perspective. This place is eye-opening and unforgettable.
It really only got better and better. The food was cooked brilliantly by Lawrence the Chef (and IT guy haha) with an unbelievable wine selection each night via Martin our drinks master. I always recommend the whites although to each their own when traveling. I will say even more about the service. They really put maximal effort in for their guests. I'm talking absolute MAXIMUM effort in service. They are pros of the highest caliber at making people feel welcome and taken care of. As evidence by my jacket incident which Sanet, the general manager, was masterful at handling.
I had left a very important piece of work clothing in Cape Town and there was little chance of finding it unless I knew where it was. Luckily, I remembered I wrote my name on it and left it at the hotel. Sanet offered to help as soon as she saw me upset at my own mistake. She called up the hotel herself and had the item couriered next day to Jo'burg where an airline staff member would facilitate handing me the item at the airport. Mind you, she did this in the middle of the bush within minutes using a satellite phone and a barely working fax machine steps away from elephants and a full view of the Milky Way! All I'm saying, is that they treated me like family and made the experience I had with my best friend and my parents very special. To all the staff and friends at Camp Ndlovu I'd like to say a big late thank you for everything! I cannot wait to visit again soon!