My South African Adventure
Since my first story on South Africa many people have asked , “ So what happened next?”
Every day in South Africa dawns differently to the one before and so it was with my husband and
After the beautiful sunset on our first day in Africa we met for cocktails and dinner on the
main deck at Madikwe Private Game Lodge. In the distance had been a rumbling of rain all
afternoon but unlike here in Australia it took a very long time to reach us. We sat down
chatting excitedly about our day and the animals we’d seen when a tremendous gust of
wind blew out every candle on the table. Eerie! We hurried inside before the heavens
ripped open and a massive thunderstorm roared through Madikwe.
It had not rained in months.
Waking up early the sky was still filled with lightning , thunder and torrential rain. Yet
forever the eternal optimist I dressed ready for our morning safari .The ranger’s call came at
5am “ Too wet, we’ll call again at 6. “ I knew in my heart that I had not come all this way
and conquered so many fears to be deterred by a bit of rain, yet with the thunder it seemed
too dangerous. By six the thunder had gone, the sun peeked out and a small group of
diehards including us were off again.
Calm after the storm
New waterholes had appeared overnight and the creatures of Madikwe were loving it.
Herds of huge Cape Buffalo and their many calves seemed less dangerous frolicking in the
We spotted the rare Brown Hyena skulking across the road and then a very lucky giraffe
whom I promptly named Gus. Gus was one of the luckiest giraffes in Madikwe for on his
back was a huge scar from where he’d been mauled by a lion. How he escaped we’ll never
We stopped for coffee near some hills which had been shaped by a coral reef millions of
years ago. We all fell quiet… There was something extremely magical about this part of the
park. Then we began to laugh for on the very tip top of the hills were a herd of elephants.
Now how could they get up there? Heavy lifting, indeed!
An Encounter with the Painted Wolves
The radio sprang to life.. Wild dogs or painted wolves ( a feature of Madikwe) had been
spotted in the area off to the East. Off we raced at full pelt careering along the muddy
tracks as though we were part of the Dakkar rally. ( Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of speed
either) . Oh, well I just held on to my hat and thanked heaven for my trusty raincoat
preventing me from being spattered with mud. My hubby was not so lucky. We first came
upon some spotted hyenas and knew we were close. These scavengers hang about waiting
for the predators to leave a kill so that they can feast on what is left.
The pack of wild dogs had made the kill and then a lazy lioness had taken over, so with
some trepidation we were on the lookout for an agitated pack of dogs. Round the next
corner there they were , yellow in the morning sun with black stripes and man, were they
fast. The leader let out a strange bark . He’d spotted the lurking hyenas and was warning
Our truck idled as we watched this majestic scene playing out before us….A real David
Attenborough moment! With hearts still racing from our adventure we reluctantly headed
back to the Lodge.
After a morning sitting in the truck you’re ready to move again so I headed to the gym
whilst one of my friends chose to opt for a massage. Refreshed and stretched we both
headed back to the rooms together. Luckily we were laughing like the spotted hyenas and
chatting loudly …. Loudly enough to scare off the enormous Black Mamba ( one of the
deadliest snakes in Africa) that was slithering across our path. We scurried to reception to
tell them of our discovery and they were impressed by our bravery. I’m sure most visitors
would not be as familiar as Aussies, with snakes in the backyard. Paul just said, “They can
jump you know.”
“ Thanks, honey that made me feel much better… Not!”
I will forever be grateful that I was not walking back alone. My story could have ended very
A Barbecue – South African style
In the evening we were treated to some beautiful African singing and dancing from the staff
at the Boma ; a traditional barbecue that included gnu stew, chakalaka and springbok.. At
the feast you tell stories of your African adventures as you gather around the fire.This was
perhaps one of my favourite parts of our stay and I once again became teary listening to
those beautiful voices, but not for long, as I was soon chosen to dance. I remembered the
wisdom of Oprah , “ And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”
And that’s just what I did , all the while keeping a wary eye out for Black Mambas.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).