Please note.. there is an image of a lion’s meal towards the end of the post, so don’t scroll past the first couple lion pictures unless you want to see it!
We didn’t have far to go for our next stay. We decided it was time to treat ourselves to a luxury African lodge, which happened to be fairly close to Sossusvlei. We drove about an hour to Hoodia Lodge, and to our luck, they were able to accommodate us in one of their bungalows! It was stunning. We were able to clean up, enjoy the pool and catch up with a little wifi (albeit slow). Photos by Chris Bennett.
It was a typical African Lodge where they come out and meet you with a cold beverage and then treat you like royalty, constantly checking to see if anything is needed or if they could do anything. We had some laundry done, as our clothing was starting to get a little stinky, and simply relaxed. We had been driving significant distances for the past week, so it was nice to unwind and relax.
Our next stopping point was towards Mata Mata – a border crossing into the Kalahari in South Africa. We decided to check out the Kalahari Game Lodge just before the border to South Africa, which offered both lodge facilities and camping, as well as a large lion reserve. I had emailed the day before to check availability, as we were unsure if we would make it the whole way or not.
Maybe I jinxed us, but as we were driving, we had to cross a couple very large puddles (there was no avoiding them). A few minutes after going through, the engine slumped and we lost most of the power to the engine. We got out the satellite phone and called the rental company. They said try to get to the nearest town and find a garage, then call back. We were about 15 km from the smallest town, and we found a couple garages in the GPS. Going about 35 mph the whole way, we made it around 10:30, and since it was Saturday, one garage was closed and the other had to call in the guy who worked on diesel engines. He came, took it for a drive and said it was the fuel filter. He said he couldn’t help and for us to drive to the next town, a small city where they would have more options. We started making our way there and called the rental company back. They told us to find the Toyota fuel/service station and to ask the attendant where Christie lived. Apparently he lived nearby and they would know.
We get to the fuel station and ask, and they direct us around the corner to Christie’s. He came right out and started taking apart the engine. He pulled out the air filter. The engine had essentially started eating the filter after it got wet. He cleaned it up with the air compressor, flipped it around, took the defender for a spin and we were off! Even better, we weren’t charged a thing. We got that sense throughout our travels – people in Africa are inherently kind – and not looking to make money at every instance! It may sound like it was a seamless day, but it’s a little stressful when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and your satellite phone only works some of the time!
We did eventually make it the Kalahari Game Lodge, and when we arrived we opted for camping – as the sites were set up with individual eco-friendly bathrooms and washing stations. It was an impressive set up!
We signed up for a ride through the Lion reserve the next morning. All the ‘dangerous’ animals were kept in a large (read thousands of acres) area that was blocked off from the camping/lodging area for safety.
The next morning, we woke up early, layered on clothes (it was probably around 50 degrees, but after 100 degrees it felt like 20!) and headed out in the truck to find some lions. The excursion didn’t disappoint – we saw 1 female and 4 male lions. 3 of them were relaxing after a nice meal of orix, which we saw nearby. Also nearby was an enormous giraffe – the photo doesn’t do the size justice. If you don’t want to see the orix leftovers, only scroll through the next 4 photos, the 5th is a little graphic!
After the tour, we decided to head towards Johannesburg, where we were going to meet the rental guy for a new air filter. From there, and in my next (and I think final Africa post) – on to Kruger National Park!