on safari! part 1
Kuzuko and a few other reserves work in partnership with Addo to preserve the land and animals, and give visitors more opportunities to see the native wildlife and landscape. The drive from Addo was quite tiring – we’d already been in the car for half a day – but it was worth it because Kuzuko’s setting and amenities are first rate! We were greeted with a hot moist towel and a flute of apple juice, which did much to remove the grime of a long day in the car. There was some confusion about who we were, but then they explained that a lightning storm had taken out their power and internet connection 3 days prior, and they were running blind! Fortunately they have a good backup generator, so they had power for lights and food preparation. However, there was no internet or hot water. A real outback experience!
After a late tea service we were shown to our cottage, one of several outstanding little thatched roof structures.
The view over the adjacent ridge and valleys was stunning. It was peaceful and exhilarating at the same time. This was the view from our balcony.
Shortly after settling in we had to get ready for our first game drive. It was windy and drizzling lightly, so we bundled up for the 3+ hour tour. Here’s our crew ready to go (yes, Don did take advantage of the poncho and blanket).
The roads through the park are pretty rough, but the custom Land Cruiser and our experienced driver / guide made short work of them. Soon we were seeing kudu, red hartebeest, zebra, and vervet monkeys. Then we entered a (very big) enclosed area, and were able to approach a pair of lounging cheetahs! The pair are kept there because of the aftermath of a devastating drought a few years earlier. During the drought, the reserve’s game numbers we depleted, the cheetahs were killing massive numbers of game, and the lions would come in and “steal” the cheetah’s kills, exacerbating the problem. The reserve decided to relocate all but two of the cheetahs, and keep the remaining pair separated from the lions until the game could be replenished.
After the cheetahs we entered another enclosure where the Cape buffalo are kept. Prior to the drought there were 50 of them here, but only 1 survived! Today the reserve has 14, and is trying to re-build the stock by also keeping them separated from the lions. The sole survivor is pictured here, with a few “helpers” on his back.
It was getting dusky, but it was reported that a rhino was in the area. We managed to find him, and in the waning light watched him from afar as he moved along the edge of a thicket. It was a great way to end our first “game drive!”
On Monday morning we were woken at 5:30am to prepare for the morning game drive. Expectations were high after the previous evening! Before long we encountered a couple of troops of screeching baboons. Then for quite some time we continued to see the game from the previous evening, although from different angles and perspectives. There are two types of zebra, mountain and plains, and we learned to identify the differences. Here are some plains zebra.
A rhino was again reported to be in the area, but remained elusive. After a leg stretch and coffee break above a lush river valley, the rhino was spotted in the distance. We were all encouraged, and we exhorted our guide to get us a little closer. After some bouncy off-road action, we got close! The big fellow circled us warily, and gave us incredible views.
After the intense close encounter, it was back to the lodge for breakfast and relaxation. We didn’t want to ignore any amenities, so we scheduled a couples massage. Kuzuko was going to be another tough place to leave behind!