Tag Archive: Entabeni


OUT OF AN AFRICAN TOILET


What could be more exciting than an African Safari?

 

 

20120903-111054.jpg

Entabeni Rock and the Resident Wildebeests

 

 

Lion and cheetah sightings. Staring down cape buffaloes and warthogs. Admiring giraffes and waiting for hippos to come out of the water. Keeping still and quiet while a rhino sidesteps your safari cruiser. EXCITEMENT. MUCH!

 

 

20120903-112403.jpg

Safari Animals. Awesome experience!

 

 

A break between the morning and afternoon safari drives meant lunch in a garden setting and a visit to the Pedi Village within the Entabeni/Legend Wildlife Park and Game Reserve. AND A PEE BREAK. Of course. Those bladders can only hold it for so long. Unless you have the nerve to pee in the bush and risk a leopard passing by or stepping into a thicket within feet of a pride of lions feasting on a wildebeest.

 

 

 

20120903-113158.jpg

Pedi Village within Legend Wildlife Park

20120903-113314.jpg

 

 

Lunch was great. As with every meal served in Entabeni. Food quality and service quality is tops. Mediterranean this noontime, after an African bush dinner last night. Those meatballs, gyros, squid rings and feta salad are savory, “light” and ideal in-between-safari drives meals. But they need to do something about those toilet locks!

 

 

20120903-114812.jpg

Greek Salad in Africa?

20120903-114916.jpg

Mediterranean Light Lunch In Between Safari Drives

 

 

So there I was, lining up to pee. Only 2 toilets for women. I took the one on the right. Locked myself with the key on the keyhole. I shouldn’t have. But I wanted to shed my thermals under my safari suit as the afternoon sun kept us warm enough. When done, I turned that key right, left, up and down. No luck. I was locked in. I looked behind me and assessed the size of the toilet window. It meant getting up on the water closet and swinging out of the window into what looked like a private garden guarded by 2 pet dogs.

 

 

20120903-115512.jpg

Behind is the toilet facilities where IT all happened.

 

 

I dropped my bag through the window, prepping myself for the “escape”. Only to remember my cellphone was in the bag! No worries, those ladies knew I was locked in and sought help. Frankly I was more worried about the pet dogs by the garden. Thought if I survived the lions and the rhinos, jumped clean out of this toilet window, only to be bitten by 2 pet dogs, THAT WOULD REALLY BE FUNNY. All that barking either sent a message of sympathy (for me) or warned the owners of my impending intrusion.

 

 

20120903-123850.jpg

Pit Stop for Lunch and a Pee, plus more. Lunch was served in the garden… right side of this photo, under the trees.

 

 

Safari rangers to the rescue. These 2 gentlemen were trained well to guide you, protect you and save you during the safari drives. Were they also trained well to rescue old ladies out of a toilet window? Juan got in through the window to test the keys and locks, and then advised me to watch him get out again. He didn’t want me to jump out. Instead, he asked another fellow to help him pull me out. Well, not exactly pull me out. I climbed out as told: upper torso out the window, then right leg out (aaargh) onto the right arm of one rescuer, left hand on another rescuer’s head for balance, the other hand held by one of the rangers, then pulling the rest of me out the window, left leg on a rescuer’s thigh, and finally piggy back on the other fellow till my feet touched ground. All that time, the 2 pet dogs happily watched as if it was a show.

 

 

20120903-124749.jpg

Lunch. 2 x of this serving.

 

 

That episode worked up my appetite such that I had 2 plate servings. Thank you Juan. Thank you Pedi Village Guide. I’m sorry this old hag can’t recall your name. I promise NOT to lock the doors anymore anywhere here.

 

 

20120903-125920.jpg

MY HEROES!

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

 


Was it an authentic boma dinner? Who’s to tell? I love it. Bush dinner under open starlit skies only African nights can offer. Listening to the rhythm of African drums as the aroma from various meats grilling to perfection wafted through the thin dusty air. Curries stewing in open metal pots. Camp fires and blankets failing to keep us warm.

 

 

20120903-123044.jpg

Campfires at 6 Celsius? Hand me that blanket!

20120903-123151.jpg

Steaming hot. Just the way we want it.

 

 

The drum beats and a motley group of singers and dancers entertained us in the Entabeni Private Game Reserve. So, this is what dining in the bush is all about. Another “experience” tucked under our belt. Hard to appreciate then because of the cold. Too cold that the thought that a beast may lurk somewhere in the dark hardly mattered. Too dark that we hardly cared what exotic meat we may be eating.

 

 

20120904-084158.jpg

Interactive Drum Session. (I’d rather dance)

20120904-084332.jpg

Medium Rare. Perfection.

 

 

But it must be said. They sure know how to do their steaks here in Africa. In Tribes in the Emperor Palace Complex in Jo’burg where we dined, I enjoyed my 300 gram rump so much. Before that, the Congo Wild Mushroom topped with creamed spinach and cheese is “to die for”. Better than Portabello, if you ask me.

 

 

 

20120904-090406.jpg

Order the Congo Mushrooms and the Rump. You won’t regret it. Then some Malva Pudding as African dessert.

20120904-085735.jpg

Malva Pudding on your lower left, folks.

 

 

And how about all those exotic meats in the buffet spreads in Zambezi Sun Hotel? The crocodile meat I found rather bland. But the Impala and Kudu meat…. Now, that’s real game dish I won’t pass up. Better than the biltongs, boerewors, kudu pies and ostrich bobotie I’ve tried in the Western Cape. (The springbok pie in Berluda Farmhouse is still tops)

 

 

20120904-090605.jpg

Choose your WILD!

 

For the life of me, I never thought I’d fall for antelope meat that much. The Zambezi fish was so good yet I just couldn’t pass up the exotic meats. Guess I knew they’re to be “experienced” best here than anywhere else. Truly, the “taste of Africa”. Speaking of which, I didn’t fail to visit the store by the same name to take home some pâtés made from the same exotic meats: crocodile, impala, kudu, ostrich, springbok.

 

20120904-091243.jpg

Exotic meat pates: Crocs, Kudu, Ostrich, Impala, Springbok.

 

 

For sure, this is an African cultural and culinary experience. Chatting up locals, engaging in culinary adventure, drinking their local beers and wines, bush dining under African skies. Quite a sensory experience, don’t you think?

 

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly


We finally reached Entabeni Game Park Reserve after 3 1/2 hours on the road from Johannesburg. Made it with a couple of hours before sunset. A cooling breeze gusted under a hazy sun, perfect time for pleasant thoughts. I wanted to let out a blood-curdling scream with the exuberance of an 8 year old. “We’re in Africa, ready for our first safari!”

 

20120902-102110.jpg

Entabeni Mountain. The Rock. All of 1.8 Billion Years Old. Jurassic!

20120902-102209.jpg

Young Henri Taking Our Photo Here

 

 

The Entabeni Mountain looks so majestic in all its orange-ness. Entabeni means “place by the mountain”. Would you believe this natural wonder is 1.8 billion years old? Yes, Virginia. Jurassic. Imagine them dinosaurs crowding around this majestic creation in those times. Maybe planting some eggs around the 22,000-hectare park beside those humongous termite mounds we found littering the savannah.

 

 

20120902-102622.jpg

Wildebeest or Gnus? Entabeni means “Place By The Mountain”

20120902-102950.jpg

As my friend says “the swan of the African Savannah”

 

 

Did we get lucky on our first drive? We had the youngest, newest park ranger driving for us today and the next couple of days. Henry is a fine young man of 22 on his first job. Just a month on the job, and we’re in luck to be his first group. We climbed into our safari vehicle like we do it everyday, eager for our first adventure. With the wind riffling through our hair, we gathered dust as our safari jeep cut across the savannah in search of the Big 5. And more.

 

 

20120902-103440.jpg

Free rider bird on a friendly Impala.

20120902-103639.jpg

Our First Rhino. A White Rhino. And that has nothing to do with the color. Fierce.

 

 

In a matter of minutes, we had our fill of impalas, warthogs, eland and wildebeest. Then, our very first rhinoceros in all its 2-ton fierceness! As the day approached dusk, we found our giraffes. Looking truly regal, the giraffes walked ever so gracefully and elegantly twisting its long neck just enough to show us those wonderful eyes drooping with those luscious eyelashes. If there’s a Big 5 in the safari world, the giraffes should top the list for the Lovely 5 among the safari animals. Truly lovely in a regal sort of way.

 

 

20120902-104154.jpg

Hi Gorgeous! Look at those eyes with those luscious eyelashes!

20120902-104358.jpg

Elands. Like Kudus with straight horns and sometimes no body lines.

 

 

Henry showed us some rhino dung, followed some lion tracks, showed some impala dung, searched for more safari animals, talked about the birds, the trees, the termite mounds, and more dung. Before long, we asked our dear Henry “no more dung” for today. He obliged. What a lovely, sweet, young man! The same can be said of the rest of the safari rangers we met. Juan, Philip, Adrian and another fellow (who guided us through our Pedi Village Tour) whose name I can’t recall. All so friendly, cheerful and polite.

 

 

20120902-105022.jpg

Our friend from Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. Trivia: Males are bulls. Females are cows. Babies are calves. Just like cattle!

20120902-105145.jpg

NO, this is not a photo from the website. This is actual photo of our encounter with a Rhino who kept us still and quiet as it passed by the side of our safari jeep.

 

 

We’ve seen and touched the elephants in Knysna Park. We saw our first rhinoceros on our first safari drive. Done with 2. (The cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and zebras we found don’t count.) So, on our 2nd day we were drooling with excitement to see the next 3: cape buffaloes, lions and leopards.

 

 

Maybe hard to imagine why cape buffaloes would land in the list of the Big Five. Our very able guides and safari rangers explained how hunters feared these buffaloes as they can attack without any provocation at all. Much unlike the lions, leopards, cheetahs and many other fierce- looking animals, these buffaloes can attack even if they don’t feel threatened at all.

 

 

20120902-105548.jpg

Sssssh….. This cape buffalo is staring us down.

20120902-105739.jpg

Horses with stripes? ZEBRAS.

 

 

To be honest, I had my apprehensions sitting in an open safari vehicle before this trip. Without any protective bars, I imagined cruising across the savannah in search of safari animals completely EXPOSED and UNPROTECTED. I was tempted to google search safari accidents before signing up for this trip but decided against it. I’d never consider chickening out, for sure. Let those lions roar. Just don’t expect me to walk into a thicket and step within a few feet of a lion’s paws. I’m adventurous with a capital A but my nerves get in the way sometimes.

 

 

20120902-110048.jpg

Rawr! This is my territory, roared the tawny lion with a fluffy mane.

20120902-110350.jpg

Get outta here, this lion seems to say!

 

 

We found an entire herd of cape buffaloes on our afternoon safari drive. Looks like they’re having a party! Actually, Entabeni has a breeding farm and we just happened to stumble upon these breeders. They don’t look threatening at all but we kept still and quiet as our safari rangers advised. A lucky break came just before dusk when we spotted a pride of lions in the bushes. Busily feeding on what looked like wildebeest or what’s left of it, we watched a cub happily munching its feast while mommy lion grabbed another piece of dark meat for the other cub. My heart must have skipped a beat, thudding like crazy. Lions in the wilds! So this is how it feels like watching them. Therein lies the thrill, an odd feeling of detachment. I don’t remember how long we stayed, but I do remember there’s a brittle air of expectancy as I looked into a pair of eyes that seem not to miss nothing. I’m telling you, the spirit of adventure is a snatch more intense here. A few meters away, yet the sounds are closer!

 

 

20120902-110704.jpg

Hunter Lioness is busy feeding her cubs.

20120902-110912.jpg

Warthogs. Pumba?

 

 

As my pulse steadied and my heart found its rhythm, I forced myself to breath deeply. I can’t speak for the others in the same safari cruiser with me, but I bet their heartbeats weren’t normal like mine. Our ranger said they have been searching for these lions the past 2 days. Weren’t we in luck! The saying “Be careful what you pray for” couldn’t be more true in this instance.

 

 

20120902-112447.jpg

Mommy Lion takes a rest while her cubs happily feast on what looked like a cursed wildebeest.

20120902-112600.jpg

The Savannah and the Mountains. Check out the lone cheetah under the tree.

 

 

Exhaling after holding my breath for what felt like years, I realized I had my mouth wide open in a mindless gape of surprise, excitement, and fear. In that order. As my mind went on a sabbatical, my fingers busily pressed for snapshots to document this rare animal experience. Wish my shots were clearer, but can’t complain. A video of a cub shaking its head as it pulled, chewed and enjoyed its meal in the wilds makes my day!

 

 

20120902-112852.jpg

And now there are 2 cheetahs.

20120902-113201.jpg

Hippos playing hide and seek?

 

 

Most certainly, this is the highlight of my African adventure. Thank you, Travel Bounty!  Thank you, dear Henri of Entabeni Private Game Reserve. And thank you Juan and this fellow from the Pedi Village who “rescued” me out of an African toilet.  Now , that episode deserves a separate blog. Meanwhile, here’s the link to our African Safari video. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEXhHlNPK04

20120902-113622.jpg

Tales from Entabeni.