Years back, I remember, I was reading a certain novel back home where they wrote about Nigeria and how in Africa, they consider humans as guests. A guest privileged enough to stay in their kingdom. The kingdom of the animals.
I have been to Forest Resorts earlier, but never have I felt the feeling which I experienced this weekend here. Here in Madikwe. Madikwe is a Game Reserve not far from Mafeking and actually a stone’s throw away from the Botswana border. What is a Game Reserve? It’s a Wild Life Park in our terminology. But still here they are not ‘wild life parks’, because here in Africa when they actually refer to “Wild Life Parks”, they refer to extremely huge parks (eg. Kruger National Park), which is almost the size of any mid-size state in India.
Our host was Tau Lodge, placed in the middle of the Game Park. Everything about this Lodge is to do with wildlife. Right from the entrance gate, you are escorted by a guided car, about 2 miles through the forest. As I said, everything about Tau Lodge is to do with wildlife – the wooden lodge, pictures of giraffes and lion everywhere, pin drop silence while we walked into our rooms - you quickly realise you are far far away from civilian livelihood.
When it comes to the safari, I have decided that there’s so much to write about – that I choose to write nothing. Probably because it would take me lines, paragraphs, bytes and kilobytes – and yet I won’t be able to match up to what my eyes have seen. Perhaps the pictures can help a bit? For more pictures, please do visit my Picasaweb album.
We had three safaris in all, over the weekend and Megan (our ranger in the guys’ jeep) was our hero. The ladies are still drooling over Dylan (the ranger in their car) and the argument over who was the more knowledgeable one would continue for months now, I guess. But let us not go into that .
The team was enthusiastic enough to do an impromptu YMCA ! Watch below …
I know the pictures speak for themselves, but there is one incident that I must mention. It was around 6.30 in the evening and it was already quite dark. Megan suddenly took out a large spotlight and flashes it around while driving. She continues to do that as we move on. The landscape was vast – with endless grasslands on both sides of us. The hills in front us should be beyond the South African border into Botswana and the sun that set a little while ago still leaving a reddish glow over the hilltops. Magnificent view – my hands desperate for a photo shot, but I decided not to due to the camera shake. But more importantly, there was this freakish feeling that something was about to happen – kept the entire atmosphere haunted-like.
Suddenly Megan stopped the jeep. While we wondering why, she quietly makes a U-turn back. Driving back a few 100 meters, our jeep takes a right, right into off-road, now into the grassland. Dense grass scratching the chassis of the RangeRover, we move on, another 100 meters. And then the jeep stops. Megan is one-handed with the wheel and the other hand flashing the flashlight. The light is now not on the grass, but on two wild beasts right before us. Two maned male lions that eluded us day-long, is right before us, feasting on a new kill. The lights are on them, but they are absolutely un-bothered. Our jeep moves quietly ahead – right in front of the lions – I am now within 3 meters of the lion pair (!)
While Megan was quick to spread the news over her radio, two other jeeps also moved in after a while. But what will baffle me for many many years would be how this lady cracked the code – in the middle of nowhere – in the middle of darkness – with no hint whatsoever. How? I’d never know.