KwaZulu-Natal and The Kruger National Park 2009. - Arathusa Safari Lodge

Arathusa Safari Lodge. (this link will open in a new window).

After a couple of days in the Kruger National Park we'd booked two nights at Arathusa, a private safari lodge in the Sabie Sands Game Reserve which is attached to the National Park. However we had to change our original schedule a bit as we had a problem with the truck on the way to Arathusa. 

On a gravel road while Diana was driving the front nearside wheel came off the truck......  We were all fine but we were stuck in the middle of nowhere. (It wasn't anything to do with Diana's driving, just one of those things). 

 A few minutes later a gentleman stopped and asked if we needed help, he turned out to be the headmaster of the local secondary school and soon called the police out (to make other traffic aware of our predicament) and tried to explain to our insurance company exactly where we were! 

Then another guy stopped and, amazingly, turned out to be the owner of the safari lodge that we were going to!

Hannes (the lodge owner) took over and organised a tow truck to pick up our vehicle and take it to the nearest Toyota dealership (at White River, about 1 1/2 hours drive away)...

.....and he also got one of his drivers to come out with a vehicle and a trailer to pick us and all our luggage up and take us to the lodge. 

So we got to Arathusa a couple of hours after we'd expected but at least we'd made it. As it was a Friday afternoon and the Toyota garage was closed on Saturday and Sunday there was nothing that could be done to our truck before Monday.  Hannes arranged for them to order all the parts on Monday and said that it would be ready for us to pick up on Tuesday afternoon.

As we'd originally only booked 2 nights at the lodge we would need somewhere to stay on Sunday and Monday.  That was when we had our second bit of good luck as the lodge had rooms available for us so we ended up staying for 4 nights - certainly no hardship.

As we didn't want to rely on getting the truck back on Tuesday afternoon and then having to drive all the way back to Richmond on Wednesday we decided that it would be better to stay in White River on Tuesday night and then drive to Jo'burg on Wednesday so that Diana and David could get their Jo'burg flight on Thursday evening - the only problem being that their big suitcase, some clothes, their passports and the tickets were in Richmond!!  This was where we had our third piece of luck as Catherynn, Hayden and the boys were going to be driving up to Jo'burg on Wednesday (as they were going to the UK and their flight was on Wednesday evening) and they were taking a trailer for all their luggage so said that they could pick up Diana and David's case and meet us in Jo'burg!

Having got all that sorted we had a fantastic time at the safari lodge where we saw so many animals - lions, cheetah, leopard, rhino, elephants, hyena, giraffe, zebra etc, etc Between us we took hundred of photos and it's been very difficult to select just a few of them!

Over two days we were lucky enough to see a group of 6 lions (2 males, 2 females and 2 cubs) at a kill they'd made a couple of days previously.

The cubs were born to the 2 lionesses but were both being suckled by the younger lioness.

These lions were part of a larger pride (called The Styx) who well know to Andre (our ranger) and Rufus (our tracker who sat a seat right at the front of the truck). These lions were renowned for their ferociousness - with other lions.

The male lions, Mr T (spot the hairstyle?) and Kinky Tail - yes he had a kink in his tail!

One of the cubs

The main differennce between this Safari and when we were in the National Parks is that the rangers will follow the animals into the bush with the truck. This never seemed to upset any of the animals and gave us a wonderful experience.

We were very fortunate to see this cheetah - the last time one had been seen in this area was 3 months ago.

Seeing so many predators was one of the highlights but we also stopped to look at plenty of other animals and birds.

A pair of bateleur eagles.

Swainson's francolins.

These zebra came down to drink at the waterhole by the lodge

We could spend hours watching the antics of mongooses.

Sabie sands is renouned for the number of leopards in the reserve and we were fortunate to see them on 3 occasions, twice during the day and once on a night drive. Once again we were able to follow them in the truck without seeming to upset them at all.

Another highlight was spending the best part of an hour amongst a herd of about 30 elephants. Sometimes we were surrounded on all sides by elephants! This herd is well known to Andre and Rufus and they know that it's safe to be with them.

We saw some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We were woken at 5.30am and, after coffee and a rusk, set off on our morning game drive at 6am, getting back for breakfast around 9.15am.

A game walk was on offer after breakfast - facinating to learn a little about the animal tracks, trees and bushes, as well as seeing birds and animals.

We went out again at 3.30pm for our afternoon/evening drive getting back in time for our evening meal at 8pm.

During the day, while we were at the lodge, we spent quite a bit of time watching the birds and animals around the waterhole.

This green-backed heron was intent on catching fish.

On our last day 3 hippo arrived at the dam.

We paused and watched these white rhino.

Steenbok are small, shy antelope.

On our last morning we saw vultures high up in nearby trees. Andre and Rufus decided it was worth investigating and we soon came across this hyena near the track. We followed it and could see that it appeared to be eating something so Andre took the truck right into the bush where we had a fantastic view of the hyena eating the remains of a buffalo.

I couldn't resist another couple of 'lion' photos!

We had a fantastic time at Arathusa - amazing animals, great food and friendly and helpful staff. It's certainly somewhere we all want to return to.

The chalets are very comfortable and all overlook the waterhole. There are 10 chalets at Arathusa, each accommodating 2 people.

Meal time is when you can swap stories with other visitors - most of the ones we met were from Europe or America.

1. Richmond
2. Beaches
3. Royal Natal, Drakensburg Mountains
4. Battlefields
5. Kruger National Park
6. Arathusa Safari Lodge, Sabie Sands, Kruger
Diana's diary

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