Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cheetah Plains Lodge, Sabi Sands

Cheetah Plains, a lodge in the north of the Sabi Sands was our next stop, and we were here for two nights. It was not that far to get from Mantobeni to Cheetah Plains, and we arrived here at about midday. We were welcomed with the customary drinks and shown to our rooms. These were quite a bit smaller than what I had seen at other lodges in the Sabi Sands, but perfectly comfortable nonetheless. The room consisted of a double bed, air-conditioning, and overhead fan, tea/coffee station, outside deck, one bath, one basin, an outside shower and hair dryer. The space to hang clothing was fairly limited, but sufficient nonetheless (just!). The public areas have a gift shop, a pub and inside and outside lounges, as well as the ubiquitous TV room, as well as a pool. We did not make use of this – the cold front was still present.

The Cheetah Plains winter programme is a wake-up call at 06:00, followed by drinks and then departing for a drive at 06:30, returning at 09:30 for brunch and then an optional walk. High tea is served at 15:30 and the drive departs at 16:00, returning at 19:00, followed by dinner. They do away with breakfast and lunch, and instead offer brunch and high tea, which is a good alternative and maybe more lodges should look at this.

We were introduced to our ranger Jacques and our tracker, Patrick, and set off for the afternoon game drive which produced another huge herd of buffalo, elephants on two occasions, nyala, steenbuck, duiker, hippo, wildebeest, zebra, white-tailed mongoose, genet, civet, lesser bushbaby and then some rhino.
Dinner was enjoyed under the stars, and consisted of a good old South African braai, with a choice of meats, salads, starch, desserts, etc. Both times dinner was served under the stars in their boma, just off the lounge and pub area, as were brunch on both occasions. Brunch had a choice of hot and cold dishes, fruit, juice, cereals, yoghurts, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, eggs, toast, coffee, tea, etc.

The morning drive produced the usual animal sightings, but this time also two honey badgers – a rare sight – and two old male lions that we followed for a while. Our ranger, Jacques and our tracker Patrick, knew of a hyaena den which we also visited. However, all that was seen here on this occasion were two adult hyaena – the cubs did not want to show themselves. After this drive we returned to the lodge for brunch and to catch up on some relaxing.

That afternoon’s drive was more exciting. We saw all the usual animals again, including all of the big-5 in one drive. We also went back to the hyaena den, where we found the five young hyaena with not an adult in sight. In fact, upon stopping there, no animals were visible, but being the inquisitive animals that they are, one by one the hyaena’s came out to see what was going on and some quality time was spent with them. We followed a group of five lionesses wandering down the road and got pretty close to them and then when it was dark, we stopped at a tree where there was a leopard kill - a female leopard had killed an impala and taken it up a tree. She also had two cubs with her, but we did not see them. This was a fairly fresh kill, with blood still fresh and running down the dead impala’s neck and the leopard was beginning to feed. A hyaena was present at this site, and this may have been the reason that the two cubs did not show themselves.

That next morning we came upon the group of lionesses that we had seen the previous evening. They had killed a buffalo and were busy consuming this in some long grass. They had obviously been feeding for most of the night, as their bellies were quite full and they were pretty lethargic. We also went to the leopard kill, where we saw the female and one of her cubs in a tree, with the other one down on the ground. The mother was not letting the cub feed with her, and after a few snarls from the mother, this cub left the tree to join the other one on the ground. It was shortly after this that Jacques also left the sighting, a little prematurely I thought, as we had not spent too long here at all. On this drive all the usual suspects were also seen and we returned to the lodge for brunch.
This lodge has some good things going for it. Their tariffs are reasonable and their traversing area is quite large with animal sightings being plentiful in this area. 

No comments:

Post a Comment