After a hurried lunch at Ravineside Lodge, I got to experience my first safari ride at 4:15pm – no thanks to the coach driver from Hell. His stubbornness had resulted in the group’s late arrival at the lodge. The original scheduled game drive had to be shifted to a later time meaning a significant reduction in available daylight hours to view the wildlife. By the time the sun went down behind the mountains at 6:30pm, the grassland was already too dark to see and most of the wildlife had already gone home.
Here are some images of the wildlife and landscape (in chronological order) that I did manage to photograph before the last rays of light left the sky.
The next morning, I was up and ready by 5:30am for our second game drive. While everyone waited inside the lodge for the 4WDs to drive up, I remained outside to see if I could catch an Entabeni sunrise. Personally, I did not think that the spot where I was standing was a good location for a sunrise photo, but my options were limited as we were warned not to venture out of the compound in case of wildlife lurking nearby. I just wanted a snapshot of my first and only morning at Entabeni.
I was so focused on getting a shot of the sunrise that I had not realised that a rhinoceros had entered my frame. I only noticed the rhino while scrolling through the photos on my laptop after my return from South Africa. What a nice surprise!
All in all, the game drives were exciting and lots of fun. I enjoyed the scenery and 4WD rides as much as I enjoyed viewing the wildlife.
The rangers went out of their way to make sure that we got to see as many animals as possible. Their sense of responsibility towards ensuring the safety of their guests at all times was commendable.
After breakfast, we got ready to check out of Entabeni. Everyone climbed into the waiting vehicles that would take us to the Security entrance where the coach was parked.
We waited for some time until someone asked what was causing the delay. The tour guide ran out, looking flustered and saying that she had tried to call the coach driver several times but he had refused to answer his phone. He finally made his appearance fifteen minutes later and got into the 4WD. Not a word of apology.
You would have thought that we would be well on our way to Pretoria after getting into the coach. As luck would have it, the coach refused to start as the engine had gone cold. We had to stand around for another hour while waiting for help to come and resuscitate the engine!
Despite the little hiccups, this was one of my best trips ever and I had a wonderful time. Coming on this safari was a real test at photographing the African landscape and wildlife. Everything was moving, shifting and changing simultaneously – the 4WD, the landscape, the wildlife, the light conditions. It was an unforgettable adventure and a great way to end the year.