We needed to be at our rest camp, Satara, before 6:00 PM when the gates close. We drove along the paved road leading to Satara seeing elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, Cape Buffalo, herds of impala, kudu, zebra and so much more. I couldn’t believe how well these animals were hidden; they just blended in including the elephants and giraffes. Hard to believe but true.
Finally, we were about 5 km from our rest camp gate when we rounded the bend in the road and found a male lion walking along the road. He looked a little ragged, like he had been in a fight. A little further up were 8 lions just lying in the road. Obviously we sat and waited…….and waited…….and waited. One by one the lions would get up and walk a little but they were not leaving the road. We enjoyed this but we knew that the gates would close at 6:00 and it was 5:30 at this time. There is a penalty you have to pay if you arrive after the gates close. We were getting a little anxious but the lions weren’t. Traffic was stopped in both directions and everyone around us was getting worried about getting to the rest camp in time. Finally one car decided to be brave and drive around the lions; we quickly but cautiously followed and made it to the camp on time with about 10 minutes to spare.
We immediately went to the Reception Building where we checked in and were given the keys to our family cottage. I’m not sure what my expectations were of the rest camp but they were exceeded. In Satara, there are different camp sites. You can be in the area of the rest camp where it is for tent camping, another section is for those with a trailer, or rent a one bedroom bungalow, two bedroom bungalow or a family lodge that sleeps about 16-18. We were in a 2 bedroom family bungalow that had a kitchen livingroom/diningroom along with an outdoor dining area with braai (South African barbeque). Each bedroom had their own bathroom which made it very convenient. Maids would come in and tidy up your rooms, make your beds, and replenish your towels.
I was very impressed with the rest camp. We had the mini-market/gift shop, coffee shop, reception area, amphitheater that had movies or presentations in the evening, swimming pool, playground and so much more. We were in Circle D and in the center was an open space where kids could play as many kids did while we were there.
We got settled into our bungalow putting things away, feeding the baby while our husbands began working on the braai – South African barbeque. This was to happen every night. South Africans love their meat and it is such great meat too. We would have South African sausage (not sure what it was stuffed with), chicken kabobs, lamb chops, steaks and so much more on our patio – we never ate inside. We certainly ate well.
After dinner we walked to the perimeter gate that encircled the rest area to see what was on the other side of the fence. We had our flashlights with us and we were able see eyes glowing at night. When we shined our flashlight, we found spotted hyenas staring at us. I had to keep reminding myself that there was a fence between us and them. We also took the opportunity to look up in the southern skies to see the constellations that we don’t see here in the northern hemisphere. The Southern Cross was pointed out to us. While we we looking up at the skied we heard the sound of owls. Turned out they were Scops Owls – my first ever sighing of owls. As we sat on our patio and talked about all that we had seen and done who comes strolling up but an African Wildcat. It looks just like a domesticated cat but it isn’t. They are somewhat rare so it was a great surprise to see one coming up toward our patio.
At 9:00, yes 9:00, we went off to bed to get ready for our first full day of going of safari.