Delightful lunch, relax – a massage? and then back for refreshments, teas and cake before heading out on the afternoon game drive. Marc, the head ranger and guide for the duration of our stay, gave a security briefing and short description on how in early 1991 “Operation Phoenix” swung into gear and the largest translocation of wildlife ever, commenced. Since then some 12,000 head of game , 28 different species, have been reintroduced to an area where farmers struggled to raise their crops and cattle.
Madikwe Safari Lodge has chosen ‘open’ Toyota Landcruiser game drive vehicles, which were really comfortable with individual bucket seats for guests. So with bottles of water hastily grabbed from a large ice-filled ‘cooler’ we climbed aboard, cameras and binoculars at the ready and we were off. Along with management controlled burning there had been a fire caused by a lightning strike which had burnt ‘hot’ and affected quite a large area. The rains had barely begun and consequently only small sprouts of green were visible – dramatic countryside! Despite the burn, many of the animals seemed to favor feeding on the blackened branches. It seemed the fire had created toffee-apple like flavoured foodies which the elephant and black rhino in particular, seemed to relish.
We were ushered through to an enclosure just beyond the lounging areas and there roaring fires, a huge barbecue and much lively chatter greeted us in the boma. Drinks all round and we settled down to our feast under the stars. Starters and mains, what with braaied fillet and chicken done to perfection with veggies and all necessary accoutrements . This followed by the staff singing for the guests. Such harmony and enjoyment. Imagine ending with a divinely decadent chocolate tort – it did not take much to lull us to sleep that night.
In anticipation of the early morning game drive offerings, had us bathed and dressed before the security proffered his wake-up call knock on the door. Packed our gear and off to the main Lodge. The bush lining our path was alive with birdlife, all seemingly trying to outdo the next, what an awesome chorus. So many calls reminiscent of past visits to Botswana and some new ones too. Freshly squeezed orange juice, teas, coffee biscuits and rusks readied us for our morning sojourn into the bush. Marc was there bright and early, rifle and vehicle clean and ready.