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Thanda 6.4

This is the title because originally we were planned to go to a reserve called Thanda, but they were all booked, so Rhino River Lodge was the second option, but for the longest time we weren't sure if we were going to be able to go on the safari.

sunny 78 °F

It’s Sunday night, and I’m back at the Lodge after going on a weekend Safari at Rhino River Lodge. It was…one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. It’s impossible to capture the experience, but I’ll try to give a description of our schedule to try and give a picture of it. All in all, it was about a 24-hour experience; we left the Lodge at 11AM, arrived by 1PM, then left the next day (today) at 11. We got there and immediately were greeted with lemonade refreshments and cool towels to wipe our faces with. That’s when I first sensed this safari experience was going to be better than I imagined. The property was gorgeous. I roomed with three other people and our “Chalet”, as it was called, had two floors, bath and shower, coffee/tea/biscuits, and a huge living room with plush couches. We did have a couple of visitors being many crickets and a gecko in the bath tub – the real wildlife experience. Now, the rooms we stayed in were on the game reserve, so when night came, we had to be escorted by guards because there was a risk of wild game (which we saw impala and many warthogs). At 1:30PM we were served an amazing lunch of cheeseburgers/cheesecake and then went on our first safari at 3PM. We were on the drive for about 4 hours. I have never been so content and calm in a car for that long. When we finished I thought it had only been 30 minutes. It was nice because we stopped halfway on this grassy plain by this rock that looked like Pride Rock from The Lion King. We were given free drinks (I had a tequila mixed with Passion Fruit granita) and snacks. Our guide’s name was Stuart. We are now following each other on Instagram. He was amazing. His specialty is the Big 5, so we ended up seeing every animal from the Big 5 except a panther. My favorite favorite favorite animal we saw was a momma cheetah. She was a queen. So gorgeous. I made sure to take notes on every animal we saw as Stuart explained facts about them. When we got back, dinner was chicken or lamb and then a dessert.

This morning, we were served muffins and coffee/tea at 6AM before leaving for our morning game drive at 6:30. It was insanely cold! Right off the bat we saw a hyena, which was a big surprise because they are nocturnal. It looked mean, but it was pretty stocky, which is different than how The Lion King portrays them. We were out another four hours and our goal today was to spot a rhino. We saw momma cheetah again which was cool, but I was worried we wouldn’t see a rhino because we were heading back to the lodge and had only seen outline of two from a long distance. Suddenly, over the radio our guide got word of a White Rhino. We were lucky enough to see it! It had its horns cut to help prevent poaching. Our guide was such a daredevil. He went off the path and got way closer than they are supposed to get. Our car was full of girls and we all trusted him at that point and were like “get closer! Go Stuart!”. When we got back, we were served another huge breakfast. I swear, I could never in my wildest dreams imagine how amazing that safari was going to be. And to think, I wasn’t going to sign up to go because of the price, but all of my friends told me that if I never had the opportunity to return to South Africa, I would regret not going on one. Really, this safari was super cheap for everything that was included. I swear, if the doctor thing doesn’t work out, you’ll be able to find me on the safari being a ranger. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, beyond expectations experience that no one should miss out on.

Posted by kfkeane 09:37 Archived in South Africa Tagged sunset queen breakfast dinner safari lodge chicken drive cheetah game coffee rhino tequila volunteer cold cricket hyena golden_hour big_5 muffin Comments (2)

Monkey See, Monkey Do

sunny 80 °F

Good Moooooorning San Francisco!! I thought of that on my walk this afternoon. I feel like I’m doing a daily broadcast with my blogs – love it! So this morning I ran again. I’m always anxious to run after a day off. It was actually kind of chilly – like I could see my breath! Something I realized while warming up for my run, though, was that I have a serious monkey/copy-cat. The girl I go running with follows me everywhere and does everything I do. I’m a very independent person who values her alone time, so this really bothers me. For example, before she met me, she said she ran at most 3x/week for about 2 miles; now she runs 6 days/week for about 4 miles. Also, she used to just hop out of bed and run, but now she has to do the exact. same. warmup exercises that I do. This morning, I also looked over and she was doing my ankle rehab exercises and I’m not sure she knows why she is doing any of the exercises in the first place except for that it’s what I’m doing. She also asks to go on walks with me after dinner because she knows I like to go for walks and go to the gym to stretch. There are some benefits, though. She made me a dinner without garlic and onions last weekend and made the layout for my journal calendar, so I didn’t even have to be creative; I just copied her design. I feel slightly guilty, but I get annoyed by having a shadow. I know she only has good intentions, though, which keeps me from saying anything.

Project-wise, in the morning I was at Holiday Club, which is basically day-care. We did about 45 minutes of songs, crafts, free play, and snack time. I later wrote some postcards to friends and family. After my run, I had spoken to the volunteer coordinator about the food continuing to have onions/garlic in it, so at lunch I was met with the beautiful surprise of *plain* chicken!!! It was so nice to eat a meal and know it was safe to eat. In the afternoon, I had gardening, which is my favorite project. I helped turn the dirt and then watered the plants after they were in the dirt. We created an entire garden from scratch for a family. My opinions about this volunteer organization’s work are starting to transform. I feel like this kind of work is actually beneficial; imagine how many gardens we could build for families in one year. This one garden took us less than 2 hours! I still have my doubts about some of the health-care volunteer work, but I think the garden work is really beneficial! Counting down the days to leave still. Twelve left after today.

Posted by kfkeane 11:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged food monkey garden family run weather chicken volunteer preschool copy gym countdown count_down Comments (3)

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