After the birthday celebration and the ‘completing the main crossing of the Indian Ocean’ celebration, it was time to get some work done on the boat. Work here is a fraction of the cost of Sydney and the quality is just as good. However, between boat jobs, there was no holding us back - this is Zululand, and a land of animals after all!
We had a wonderful time in the oldest reserve in Africa, Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park which, unlike my experience in Kruger, felt vast and empty and animals you knew were definitely very wild and not necessarily easy to see. Hluhluwe–iMfolozi is known for its conservation efforts, and sad to say that that means huge difficulties with poachers, usually after rhinos, and in some cases has resulted in the murder of gamekeepers.
(Please think on this, think of these people and their giving their lives to keep safe the animals we so desperately need to remain on the planet. I don’t usually do this but one wonderful organisation that cares for the widows and orphans of such rangers is ‘The Thin Green Line’ found here. If you read this and enjoyed the pics I’d love for you to donate to them! I have no affiliation, I just want these people to be cared for as much as you or your neighbours care for your pet dog or cat. Fair enough!
Okay, moving on…..literally.
And then after all these animals, driving along, we see this on the side of the road. Clearly we had to stop! This guy was ‘simply the best!’ And, I need to know, who does the hat better btw?
You may have read the book ‘The Elephant Whisperer?’ Well, the home of said book was our next destination, glamping and more animal spotting at Thula Thula Reserve. Being charged by an elephant, walking in the park with a ranger to investigate smaller species like the trapdoor spider, and getting up close and personal with many of Africa’s big five before a night time by the fire, was nothing short of magnificent.
The reserve was started by author and conservationist, Lawrence Anthony. When he passed away, the elephants he had given his life to all somehow knew and the herd came silently to his home where they stood in mourning. A year later to the day, they returned to the home and again stood together in seeming solidarity with the man that rescued and loved them.
Zululand also has the wonderful St Lucia wetland area full to bursting with stunning birds, the odd croc, and heaps of hippos - sometimes wreaking havoc, as hippos do, when wandering into the local town takes their fancy. A boat trip along the river gets you into close contact with these magnificent beasts - a real favourite of mine!
Back at the Yacht Club we were treated to a vibrant welcome with local Zulu dancers performing for us and cooking a local traditional meal. Later in the evening, with a few beers under the belt the local Afrikaners also challenged us to partake in a favourite sport of theis - Bokdrol Spoeg - literally a dung spitting contest! They showed us what to do with the small hard pellets of kudu dung to spit it as far as possible - the farthest distance reached is the winner. Josh took out first prize for the guys. Go team!! The people were so warm and welcoming, that it was easy to stay a while, while waiting for the first weather window to allow us to start hopping down the coast to Cape Town.