“I can feel it. I am here”
With South Africa having hosted the FIFA World Cup 2010, the phrase “Feel it. It is here” became the catch phrase for all South Africans while this spectacle unfolded inside our borders. Being back at Leopard Hills is again a privilege and I can indeed feel something extremely special while here.
What exactly “it” is that I feel is rather difficult to define. There is a feeling of almost insignificance when you come face to face with a Mapogo, or the strikingly beautiful, Hlaba Nkunzi Leopard and her cubs. That was my first sighting of Leopard cubs after having spent a vast amount of time in the bush and was indeed a very endearing sighting. Amazingly enough, while viewing Hlaba Nkunzi and her cubs walking down the Leopard Hills entrance, we spotted a kingfisher perched in a tree that was completely unperturbed by our presence. I had to lean back at full stretch to get a shot as I was to close with a 100mm minimum zoom. That was a fantastic sighting that fits in the “specials” category.
Maybe it’s the contrast between the slightly nippy, winter evening drives, then to return to a softly lit lodge whose warmth is only equalled by the friendly staff, eager to make your stay as memorable and as comfortable as possible.
Out here, in order to survive, the wild rarely rests, but fortunately enough, there are a few hours for us to put our feet up and dissolve into a state of complete contentment. While doing just that, feet up on the deck, listening to the cascading pool, a few Elephants came to drink at the Lodge Pan. Does it get any better than this?
So what is “it”? In all honesty, it’s the entire experience. On safari drives, the rangers are extremely knowledgeable about the bush and all of it’s inhabitants, and not only that, they are quick to dish out some very good photography tips that will ensure you take home some fine images of the animals that roam freely here. The remainder of the staff will also share in stories of the past and take a genuine interest while you relate yours, and if you keep a keen ear open, the staff will continually keep you entertained with banter amongst each other.
Leopard Hills is so much, and then more. It all boils down to personal choice and what it is that you expect from a spectacular bush experience. Is it getting up close to the big 5? Is it elegant cuisine? Is it indulgent massages with a view to mesmerise you? Is it being part of an exciting and entertaining experience? Well, regardless of the order in which you prioritise these expectations, one thing is for sure, the Leopard Hills team and experience will comfortably meet all of them and more.
Again, to Duncan and his entire compliment of his staff, especially Gary and Dave who both did some great driving and offered extremely helpful tips on photography, I sincerely thank you for an experience that has finally encouraged me to pursue a career change in the bush, and best of all, I still have a couple days left to experience this dream destination.
They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Herewith a few images I have taken, and will be sure to post again on my return to the cold steely concrete jungle.
Kind regards and sincere thanks.