Monday, December 24, 2012

Best of Travelife 2012: Our most exciting evening was spent hunting a lion at Sabi Sabi


Reflecting at year-end on the wonderful TRAVELIFE that was in 2012, this is part of a series of blog entries that will look at the best aspects of our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful travels. 

This year was so full of indescribable and inspiring experiences -- and we're certainly looking forward to an even more amazing Travelife in 2013

Happy holidays to everyone
from all of us at Travelife Magazine.

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A LION IN THE DISTANCE

A four-course dinner by lamplight
at Sabi Sabi's Selati Lodge

One night at the very intimate and vintage-themed Selati Lodge of the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve in South Africa last month, living a TRAVELIFE, we were eight guests having dinner on the terrace, on a long and beautiful table set up just like a fancy dinner table in a swanky country home somewhere in the world.

We were seated across our ranger Neil -- your ranger usually joins you for dinner, so there were about three or four rangers seated with us eight guests that night -- and we were having a wonderful meal of impala carpaccio and a beef steak when suddenly a lion roared in the distance.

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THE LION'S ROAR

Neil immediately ssaid: "Ssshh. Can you hear the lion roar? That's 300 meters away."

What a sound it made. It also made our hearts beat faster as up till then, we were 36 hours into the Sabi Sabi safari experience and we'd already seen the Big 4 plus so much more.

This is very unusual, by the way, and we were extremely lucky. It had been a dry spell for lions recently and two couples who had also stayed Selati Lodge just before us had gone home that same day without seeing the lion.

But we definitely wanted to see the Big 5, including the lion.

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STRAIGHT INTO THE NIGHT

Neil quietly got up from dinner, and while we were still enjoying our food, he'd jumped on his jeep and headed straight out into the darkness and the cold to hunt down that lion.

A Boma dinner at Selati Lodge

We saw the headlights of his jeep in the distance, from the dining table, and I said to my companion: "Look at Neil. He didn't have to do this. He could have said, 'Right. We're having dinner, but let's try and wake up early to see that lion tomorrow."

MALVA PUDDING OR A LION?

Instead Neil came back, all flushed and excited. He said to us: "If you'd like to see that lion, we can do so so now after the main course and you can have your dessert afterwards."



We're really big on dessert, and on that menu that night was Malva pudding, a local specialty that had been on my companion's repeat wishlist ever since David Higgs, one of South Africa's top chefs and right at the helm of the new restaurant Five Hundred in Johannesburg, had served us malva pudding topped with foie gras for dinner in Johannesburg a few days before our safari.

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Read more about our safari
in the Dec 2012 - Jan 2013 issue of Travelife Magazine

On sale everywhere now

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My companion then said: "Let's have our malva pudding before going out to see the lion." Yeah. Of course the lion would be willing to wait for us outside while we leisurely had dessert.

I replied: "Are we on safari to eat malva pudding or to see a lion?"

That's a photo of our tracker and Neil at the wheel,
and we're seated at the back of the jeep.
And we're racing after a lion in the dark!

That kind of put things into perspective for him. So we jumped into the jeep, bundled up, and had a good half hour up close and personal with a beautiful lion.

If Neil hadn't been so dedicated -- I'm sure he'd had a very long day and was dead tired --  we might not have seen the lion at all during our Sabi Sabi stay.

HAPPY AND ELATED


Needless to say, we returned to Selati Lodge feeling on top of the world. We were so happy. What an exhilarating feeling it is to have completed seeing all the wild animals on your wish-listin their natural habitat.

My friend then said to me: "I can now understand why some people get addicted to the safari experience." 

Wow. This was a terribly big statement from a guy who almost never ever admits to being floored by anything.  

But, of course, he's on a Travelife so that makes all the difference in the world. Indeed, no one travels quite like us. Or writes like us. And that's why we're always going to be #1.





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