Happy Holidays friends!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day celebrating, eating, drinking and being merry with friends and family. I myself had an incredible day celebrating at Mongena Game Lodge in Dinokeng Game Reserve. Now if you’re a regular reader you’ll know how much I love wildlife and the bush so this was a perfect place for me to spend Christmas!
Arriving shortly after 1pm we were welcomed at the beautiful reception area with Chardonnay and shown to the lapa where the tables and buffet were set up. We were among the last people to arrive but there was still plenty of food to go around! Two tables full of delicious starters including sesame seared tuna loin, summer penne pasta and wild mushroom puff pastry tartlets were on offer. I enjoyed each and every starter I tried apart from the smoked crocodile. It was an acquired taste..
Mains were served at the back of the lapa and had all your traditional favourites like oven roasted leg of lamb, honey glazed gammon with apple sauce and roast potatoes. I really enjoyed the chicken roulade and wild rice! I’d eaten a bit too many starters so I didn’t have much of an appetite when it came to the mains but what I did have was delicious nonetheless!
I must say that dessert always excites me and it’s usually my favourite part of the meal. Mongena had a great selections of desserts ranging from classic tiramisu, mini cheesecakes and bread & butter pudding. My favourite however was the chocolate fountain! I drowned marshmallows, strawberries and shortbread pieces in the decadent stream of milk chocolate and probably ate far too many.. I may have to invest in one mind you.
Our game drive was at 4pm so we had a wander around the lodge while we waited. Although a rather wet day, the grounds were still gorgeous and it was nice to get some fresh air after a great lunch! We really enjoyed seeing the resident zebra family with their new addition and sitting on the deck at the Kingfisher Restaurant overlooking the small dam watching the bird life.
Jumping into the game vehicle at 4pm, our game ranger, Zane set out to find us the Big 5! Spotting waterbuck, impala and zebras before coming across three white rhinos. I always savor my moments with rhinos as the poaching problem is getting worse in South Africa and one day there might be none left to see in the wild.
Next we came across a relatively large herd of buffaloes all were having a bit of siesta, although a few were keeping a pretty close eye on us.
Zane told us that lions had made a kill that morning on one of the concessions nearby and he wanted to see if they were still in the area but first we stopped for sun downers at the waterhole with the other game viewing trucks. We enjoyed a gorgeous view over the water while the sun tried to make an appearance through the clouds. Everyone was eager to get going again so we all hopped back into the vehicle and proceeded towards where the lions had been seen that morning. Driving along the reeds I spotted a Woodland Kingfisher and was immediately filled with satisfaction. The Kingfishers are my favourite birds and any time I see one it makes me incredibly happy!
While heading towards where the lions were last seen, we spotted a giraffe and her new born calf. Absolutely beautiful sighting. There is nothing sweeter than a unsteady newborn giraffe trying to keep up with it’s mother.
There were unfortunately no sign of the lions but we did spot a black backed jackal sniffing around looking for scraps. Zane then received a call on the radio saying that elephants had been spotted nearby and we headed off in that direction as quickly as possible. Arriving in the area, they were nowhere to be seen. Zane followed his bush instincts and managed to track them about 10 minutes away from where we first thought they were. Two bull elephants eating from a tree next to the road, a young bull and a mature bull who we later discovered was in musthe as he frustratingly took down a rather large tree with a few shoves. We soon realised we needed to keep our distance. Putting all my trust in Zane he kept us at a safe distance and kept backing off as the two elephants started walking down the road towards us trying to intimidate us. We eventually arrived back at a crossroads where we could pull off and let them pass peacefully. They then magically disappeared into the bush as if they were never there.
I have to applaud the staff at Mongena for their commitment to making the day special for their guests. One of the game rangers dressed up as santa and handed out sweeties to the kids. The overall friendliness and dedication of everyone at Mongena on Christmas day was fantastic and deserves recognition. Giving up their time to make a great day for everyone was much appreciated by myself and my family. A special thank you to Zane for our wonderful game drive. Your tracking of the elephants was amazing and your information about the fauna and flora was incredibly interesting. If I’m still in South Africa next Christmas I’ll definitely be joining you again! Although I am hoping to spend a weekend here relatively soon!
Till next time friends,
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