A few weeks ago Michelle Damaskinos – owner of Originblu Communications, MalaMala’s media partner in Johannesburg – decided to take a break from the humdrum of city life and catch up with her friends in the bush. Apparently even the most jaded of South Africans aren’t immune to the magic that is MalaMala.
“I have become rather de-sensitized to being on a Land Rover. This may sound a bit arrogant or blasé, and many will no doubt tut and shake their heads. But sadly it is true. Being in the tourism industry for going on 20 years has seen me bumping my way through countless reserves, on more game drives than I can remember. I still enjoy them, mind you. Nothing could ever dull the magic of the African bush for me. It is still the only place where the hum of the urban jungle is completely silenced. Here we are transitory visitors into a world, which – I would imagine – is exactly as it always has been.
MalaMala never fails to humble me. Time and again my travel weary safari shoes are pulled up by the laces as I sit, braced in forward position, eyes darting from side to side, hands clasped on the bar in front of me in breathless anticipation of what we might find next.
I am the first to turn away from the mammoth lion’s piercing yellow eyes. He walks past so close, it seems he’s looking right through me. We track a tiny lion cub that most had taken for dead. And we find him! Baboons bark leeringly at the pride of exhausted lionesses, while the baby hops and gambols from one body to the next. He is patiently deflected, although this does nothing to deter him. He carries on, squawking as he goes (you have not lived until you have heard the sound a tiny baby lion makes). We chuckle and watch uninterrupted for what seems an age, until we simply must share with the next visitors who arrive. That’s OK. We’ve had our fill.
A little work is required if we’re to quaff our sundowners in true bush style. So we climb, cooler boxes and all, to the top of Campbell Koppies. Our efforts are met with a view that is quite literally balm for the soul, a 360º panorama of sight and sound. And all of it MalaMala. MMBA as we locals like to say (miles and miles of bloody Africa).
Our short stay of two days brought with it the ‘Big 5’, and so much more to boot. I have a ‘tick list as long as my arm of sightings that included everything from fur to feathers (and even some scales!). Way too many to mention here, suffice it to say, there is no safari quite like this one. Take it from someone who knows, you owe it to yourself to try it at least once (or once again).
I brought back a few clips from my stay, but these two were by far my favorite. Compared to the kind of exciting big cat footage so often shared on Video Thursdays, I guess to some they may seem run of the mill. But I just loved the fact that this buffalo was giving its horns a good rub on the tree. It’s not often one sees these bovines doing anything other than walking, grazing or languishing in the mud. This one definitely bucked the trend as far as that goes!
My hope with the elephant clip is that it captured just a fraction of what it felt like to sit among them as they walked slowly towards and around us. Not for one moment did we feel threatened either, and I have a very healthy respect for these mostly gentle giants, preferring to always keep them at a distance. It was a very special experience, and a great way to start the day. I can’t wait to go back! Thanks MalaMala!”
Happy almost weekend folks, enjoy!