On Monday morning I woke early and when I checked my phone I saw a message from a friend telling me that our street was closed due to chaos from the riots. A fire had been started in the middle of the only street out of our suburb and a barricade put up. I then checked our local Facebook group and saw that the rioters had also cut down a tree and placed it across the road. We were totally blocked in.
The problem was that we had a flight to catch and I panicked that we wouldn’t get out to get to the airport. Our flight was at 10am and we decided to keep to our itinerary and hope the police managed to clear the roads by the time we had to leave.
Navajo was desperate to come along with us.
We left the house at 9am and when we got to the intersection shown in the top pic the road had been cleared and was being manned by Neighbourhood Watch members as well as the police. We got out of our road and then once we got out of Hout Bay we knew we would make our flight. It was so stressful! We also were worried about Caitlin being left home alone for a week but we knew she had a good support system what with the neighbours in our street, Neighbourhood Watch, Navajo and the police.
Later when we checked the Facebook groups we saw pics of the malicious damage done by the protestors. Offices were vandalized, cars turned over and torched. A retirement village was targeted and the residents terrorized. Bricks were hurled and rubber bullets fired.
We had not had any breakfast due to the stress and chaos of the morning so we stopped at Mugg & Bean at the airport for a muffin and a quick coffee.
Once we were on the plane I took an aspirin and tried to relax and get into holiday mode.
We arrived at Port Elizabeth airport, rented a car and drove 100kms to Kichaka, the lodge where we were booked for the first three nights.
The accommodation is in the actual game park so you arrive at the reception building and leave your car there and they put your bags into a Safari truck and drive you through the park to the lodge.
We saw a herd of buffalo on our trip to the lodge.
We checked in and they gave us a tour and took us to our room. It was rather spectacular.
We had an amazing view of the water hole from our room. There were 3 hippos swimming around.
We even had our own little swimming pool if we chose to swim, but when we arrived it was freezing cold.
We unpacked and changed into warm clothes for our safari drive and went for afternoon High Tea at 2:30pm.
It was served in the main lodge in front of a roaring fire. We were the only people in the lodge and we felt very spoiled.
At 3pm we were off on our first sundowners safari and we saw a Warthog as soon as we left the gate.
We saw more Buffalo (or the same ones which moved?), a lonely wildebeest and loads of different types of buck.
Then we drove all the way across the park and we saw a whole herd of Elephants including several babies.
Very near to the herd we saw 4 Rhino: a male and three females.
The drive finished at 6pm and we went back to the lodge. We went to our room to get ready for dinner and then we were treated to a local African children’s choir. They sang in Xhosa and did some traditional dances for us. They are the children of the hotel staff. I really enjoyed this special treat.
After the choir finished we went in for dinner. They have 3 choices for each of the 3 courses. You place your order for that night in the afternoon at tea time.
My battery on my phone had crashed so I did not get any pics but I had the Baked Brie with berry compote, the kingklip, and bread and butter pudding for dessert. It was all very nice. The fish was thick with a crispy coating and was divine, it was served with sweet potatoes and veggies. All drinks are included in the deal so I had a few cocktails and Norm had a few glasses of wine. We were both very tired so we moved off to have a last round of drinks in the main room and then went off to sleep.
Jonty our guide gave us a wake up call at 630am and we went to the main lodge to have coffee, juice, croissants and fruit before our drive.
Then at 7am we set off on another 3 hour game drive.
Straight out of the gate we saw a herd of giraffe.
We drove a bit and saw a large troop of monkeys grooming each other in the sun.
We saw another group of giraffes munching on thorn trees.
We saw more warthogs and various other animals and then headed back to the lodge for breakfast at 10. There was a buffet of meats, cheeses, breads, fresh fruit, juices, yogurts, cereals and all sorts.
Then they brought a menu to choose a hot cooked breakfast. I had eggs benedict. Norm had an omelette stuffed full with cheese, bacon and mushrooms.
After we ate we sat in the sun outside and relaxed by the waterhole.
While we were drinking we watched some warthogs drinking in the pond.
We were so full from three rounds of breakfast we went off and had a wee nap after we sat on the balcony for a while and decided to rather skip lunch.
We woke up and went down at 2.30pm for High Tea.
At 3pm we set off again on a Game drive. We saw some more warthogs and another group of giraffes. Then we missioned across the park as Jonty our guide had heard on the radio that there was a lioness hiding in the grass watching some buck.
We found her and sat watching her hoping that she was hungry enough to hunt.
We watched her for ages and then moved off a bit of a distance and Jonty served us cocktails and snacks on the plains while watching the animal world go by.
We then went back to check on the lioness and we stayed longer than we were scheduled to and the sun had started to set. I looked up on the horizon at the sun going down and saw a huge bull elephant coming straight towards us at a hell of a pace. We had our engine off and as he walked past a nearby land cruiser from a different camp which was full of people he stopped in his tracks. He turned and looked at the truck and lifted his trunk and sniffed the van. He was inches from them. He then just turned and sauntered casually off.
If I had been in that truck I would have peed my pants! By now it was pitch dark. In the bush when the sun goes down it is so dark you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. We rattled quickly back to the camp and just as we got near the gate we saw a tiny buck called a duiker. But it was too dark for a pic.
After every game drive we were always greeted on arrival back to camp by a concierge holding hot towels to wipe the dust off our hands and faces. Then when we got to the front door of the lodge another staff member greeted us with a cocktail or a hot drink. This night it was hot chocolate and amarula, it was so delicious.
We freshened up and went through to the dining room where there was the usual cosy fire waiting.
That night for dinner I had spicy prawns on curried lentils. This was my fave dish of the week, the prawns were done in a marmite coating which sounds odd but it was so tasty.
Norm had mushroom soup.
We both had fillet steak for our main course. I felt this needed something like some crispy chips or mash. Something…but the fillet was tender and tasty.
For my Dessert I chose the chocolate pancake stuffed with amarula mousse. The mousse had a touch too much gelatin and was set too firm. But it was tasty.
Norm had the Cheese plate which was served on such a cute platter with a silver meerkat lying chilled out on the edge.
We had a few more drinks then headed off to our room, that 6.30am wake up comes early and it is amazing how exhausting bouncing around in a land cruiser for 6 hours a day is.
The next day was our 20th wedding anniversary which was why we had planned our trip. We woke at 6.30 as usual and headed off for our fruit and croissant tummy liner before we went on the morning safari. We went straight off to where the lioness was last seen and were lucky enough to find her again.
I was ever so chuffed.
This time she got up and strolled across to sit and stare out across the valley.
We sat watching her for a while, she was such a beauty.
Then we headed off to see what else we could find. We saw zebra, various buck and some red hartebeest. We drove further and we spotted our friends the rhinos again!
We sat so close to them, listening to them graze and snort their way around. With so few of these magnificent beasts left in the world we felt very privileged to spend so much time with them.
We headed back to camp at 10am and the staff had set up our breakfast table on the veranda as it was a stunning crisp sunny winter day.
We both had some fruit and yogurt followed by a cooked breakfast of bacon stacked on hash browns, mushrooms, grilled tomato and two fried eggs.
We then sat by the waterhole for a bit and relaxed and at 11am I went for a facial and massage.
It was heavenly even if the massage was a bit painful over my always sore back. After the massage I went for a shower and Norm and I then relaxed until time for a late lunch. We opted to skip High Tea and rather have our lunch later.
I had an avocado salad.
Norm had broccoli and cauliflower soup.
We relaxed in the main lodge until time for the next game drive. It’s a stunning lodge.
We headed off at 3pm again. We tracked two large male lions but even though we could see them, we could not get very close to them.
We saw lots of other game from giraffe & hippos to a large solo eland and then we stopped for champagne and snacks on the plains again.
We continued driving and viewing and then just before we arrived back at sundown we saw a young caracal, also called a Rooikat. They are nocturnal and it was too dark for a photo.
When we popped down to our room to freshen up before dinner we were so surprised to find that they had decorated our bed with rose petals, ran us a bubble bath, lit candles and left a bottle of champagne for our anniversary.
We felt so spoiled.
We went down to have dinner. We had the butternut soup to start.
We then had very tender kudu fillet.
For main we had the chocolate fondant with ice cream.
After dinner we went back to the room to drink our champagne and relax in our bubble bath together. We could hear lions roaring across the valley and it was magical and ever so romantic.
It was a pretty amazing anniversary.
We woke up again at 6.30 for our final day at the resort and we had our croissants and headed off. We saw our friends the rhino and hung out with them for a while.
We then saw a gorgeous tiny giraffe with her mommy.
Then we heard on the radio that there was a pride of lion nearby and we raced off to see them. There was a large male and 3 young males.
We watched them for a while and then we searched across the park and managed to find a herd of elephants.
We then headed back very happy for our last breakfast and when we went to our table looked out and spotted a large bull elephant cavorting in the water hole!
He stayed for most of our breakfast. We went and packed and showered and then headed out to the main reception to check out and collect our car.
We headed off to Grahamstown where there was an arts festival on.
We found a beer garden and sat listening to reggae in the sun.
Then we walked around town and went to many art exhibitions where Norm bought me a lovely statue of a rhino.
We thought he was the perfect remembrance of our holiday.
We spent the day wandering about the festival and then headed off to Port Elizabeth late in the afternoon. We checked into the hotel and were so surprised to find more rose petals and champagne awaiting us!
The view from our room on the 15th floor was stunning.
As it was late and we were exhausted we just had dinner in the hotel restaurant. We then took a drink back to our room and relaxed. We had a slow morning the next day and headed out to the Boardwalk for breakfast.
We had breakfast at Mugg and Bean and then went for a wander round the waterfront.
We then went off to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and after that we went to the mall where I bought some new boots and a few new tops as it was so hot and I had only brought heavy winter items. We went back to the room to relax a bit and then phoned an uber to go out to dinner.
We went to Fushin. We had such amazing food. The sushi was delicious. We also had prawn ‘toast’ on aubergines, crispy schezuan prawns, pepper fillet carpaccio, salt and pepper squid, dim sum, and tempura vegetables. It was all fabulous!
The next day was our last and we had a lazy morning then checked out and went down to the beach for a stroll and some breakfast.
I had jalapeño eggs benedict which was so nice.
After a leisurely breakfast we went for a walk then stopped for iced coffees.
We flew home that afternoon and got back to Cape Town about 4pm. The dogs went crazy with happiness when we got home.
We have had loads of rain since last night which Cape Town desperately needs. Today we have stayed in just relaxing. I made a chicken and butternut curry for dinner tonight which I served with cauliflower rice.
I made a chilli con carne for tomorrow as I am back at work.
I had an amazing week but reality comes soon enough.