Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Clifftop Lodge – Welgevonden

Our drive from Marataba to Clifftop Lodge in the Welgavonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, was a short drive and only took us 1 ½ hours as we were only driving to the other side of Marakele National Park, I did find out from some other guests staying at Clifftop Lodge that their drive from Johannesburg took them 3 ½ hours as there were some road works along the way. On our arrival at the Eastern Gate to Welgevonden we were directed to the car park where we were required to park and leave our vehicle - and for good reasons too - we were then welcomed by our ranger with a glass of bubbly and some snacks, after the luggage was loaded and the snacks were consumed, we hopped on the Game Vehicle and set off for Clifftop lodge, the first part of the roads were normal dirt roads and quite flat but as soon as we took the Right turn to the lodge the road pretty much went up at a 90 degree angle and became pretty bad from then until we reached the lodge – although a small feat for the Game Vehicles I would shudder to try and take a normal vehicle up and over that road! Well all the steep roads and hairpin turns are most definitely worth it as the view from Clifftop Lodge is spectacular, built on the side of the cliff looking down at the river it really is a stunning view.

We were met by the lodge manager Wiets and shown around Clifftop and to our suite which has all the amenities one could ask for – air-conditioned room with a large king sized bed, en suite bathroom consisting of a large bath, his & hers basins, indoor and outdoor showers, a hairdryer, telephone, mini bar and tea & coffee facilities all this together with a private deck with thatched sala and our own private plunge pool.

After settling into our suite we had Lunch and then we were off on the afternoon Game Drive, we saw all the usual suspects (Rhino included) but the stand out was actually on our way back to the lodge whilst using the spot light, we come across 2 male lion who were walking in the road, so we carried on following them as they were pretty much leading us back to the lodge, they suddenly started stalking and you could see the tactical maneuvers they were making, we knew from earlier in the day that there were some Blue Wildebeest on the open plain ahead of us so we started to get excited to see if they would follow through with the hunt! The younger of the 2 lion moved off to the side whilst the older lion continued to walk forward in the road, the next thing you could hear stampeding hooves and the herd was running directly at the younger lion who sprang up and managed to snag a young wildebeest, one cry and then it was over – the herd however was still in chaos and another little wildebeest had gotten separated from them, the older lion went after the little one but it managed to escape and rejoin its mother, it was truly an amazing and very rare thing to see. I have seen quite a few lions stalking but they either never follow through with it or they give a half attempt and end up missing. What an exciting Game drive!

The next morning wake up call was at 06h00 and we had a quick cup of tea/coffee and then were off on the morning game drive at 06h30, the Game Drive was not quite as eventful as the night before but we had the very rare sighting of a Roan Antelope. Apparently there is only 1 in the Welgevonden and we saw him walking along, unfortunately the sun was not in the best position for a picture, we also spotted zebra, Duiker, black backed Jackal, Rhino etc. then on our return to Clifftop Lodge we enjoyed a hearty breakfast of fruit, cold meat, cheese, muffin & croissant followed by a hot English breakfast, the afternoon was spent relaxing in our room reading and having a little afternoon siesta. Unfortunately it was a little too cold to make use of our pool, then it was time for Lunch and then onto the Safari Vehicle for our afternoon drive where we had a lovely close sighting of Giraffe as well as a young cheeky Elephant bull who charged our vehicle. I guess he was not to happy with us interrupting his afternoon snack. It was then back to the lodge for dinner and some sleep, the next morning we were off early as we had a long drive to Black Rhino Lodge in the Pilanesberg.

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