Thanda means love in isiZulu – and what’s not to love about 140 square kms of African bushveld? Gentle hills surround open plains, forested areas and thickets that are home to creatures great and small and the Thanda guides who, with their affinity for the land have a passion for leading you into their world and the wonders of nature.
A cheery call of “Good morning” tells me it’s 5.15 am. Steam swirls up from the coffee mug, sleepy faces yawn and smile and we all jolt fully awake when our guides, Matthew and Zakes call for us to get into the game vehicle.
Slowly the light kills the night, and we stop to search for tracks, marvel at a communal spider’s web glistening with dew, a dung beetle hard at work and a herd of buffalo with a young calf starting their day with yawns – tails swishing and grooming by the colourful oxpecker birds. We bounce and bump over a small ravine and sit in reverent silence as we observe an elderly male lion scratching himself against a tree. We stop to watch as two male impala lock horns in a fight for control of the female herd. At around 8 am we stop at a watering hole for a leg stretch and coffee, then head on back to the camp for breakfast.
The next game drive is at 3pm, so it’s off the Boma for some restful view-gazing over coffee. A spa treatment adds a finishing touch to the total relaxation I experience after a day or two in the bush, and lunch is announced just as I start to feel hungry. Then it’s back to my spacious tent for an outdoor shower before kitting up for the evening game drive.
This time, sundowners in the middle of a vast plain include bush coffee, a marvelous concoction of coffee and Amarula liqueur served in a tin mug. Returning in the dark we’re hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive leopard. Zakes sweeps his torch back and forth, there’s a flash of black and white, Matthew kills the engine and Zakes manages to keep the beam on the moving target. Not a leopard but a magnificent spotted eagle owl in flight. What a way to end an amazing day in the bush.
A shower to wash off the dust of the day; then off to the bar for drinks, a game of scrabble or cards, the call for dinner – a sumptuous affair – and an impromptu Zulu dance by the staff. Coffee is followed by a nightcap, and by 9pm, bed is calling.
This is what Thanda is all about – good food and luxury accommodation, a pool and spa and bar to relax, but mostly it’s the six or more glorious hours a day in the veld.
Written by DI BROWN, ROAMING GIRAFFE
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Phone: +27 (0) 32 586 0149