A few weeks ago, when all was right with my world, McGyver and I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. Honestly, we never dreamed that we would be going on an African safari. The seed was planted several years ago shortly after we moved to Great Falls. My friend TMP was from South Africa and has an outfitters business Qwatali Safaris. She suggested that we join the Safari Club International and go to their annual banquet/fundraiser.
Every year hunts are donated to the SCI to be auctioned off as a fundraiser. Our second year attending, unbeknownst to McGyver, I bid and won us a Safari with Johnny Viviers/Wintershoek Safaris. We won the grand slam of Springboks. If you have no idea what a Springbok is, you can check it out here. Essentially they are antelope and they are also a major rugby team. McGyver was beside himself when I told him we were going on safari! To make it even better, TMP grew up about 40 minutes from where we were going. Like the thoughtless person I can be, I invited myself and McGyver to TMP’s parents home, to round off our trip.
One and half years later, we were finally on our way. I was all prepared with my khakis, big hat and sunblock. McGyver made sure arrangements to ship his rifle were ok and we took off. First we made a pit stop in St. Louis, Missouri for my Not Son’s high school graduation. It was stinkin hot and I liked to have died, but we were proud of him and glad we came.
We flew from St. Louis to Atlanta Georgia and then a 15 1/2 hour flight to Johannesburg. Surprising the flight wasn’t bad, meals, snacks, drinks (including alcoholic) and on demand movie were provided. We touched down in Jo’berg and was met by Godfrey, from Africa Sky guest house, the B&B we were staying out for the night. Godfrey assisted us with our luggage and the firearm. I have to say that our accommodations were outstanding, so was the service and the food!
On the following day we attempted to fly into Kimberly. I say attempted because the weather was not cooperating. The country typically does not get heavy rains this time of year, but it seems that we brought the rain with us from Montana. The weather was so bad that we could not land in Kimberly. We then flew to Bloemfontein, and we still couldn’t land so back to Jo’berg. A whole day lost. Our international cell phones didn’t work, fortunately some kind folks called our outfitters for us and let them know what was going on.
Here is where we started to understand African time. We waited to get our luggage, we waited t be rebooked, we traveled across a zillion escalators and square footage to our hotel, we waited to be booked into our room. All in all in took the entire day and into the night to get re-situated.
The next day, we started over. With only an hours delay we were finally off to Kimberly. This time we landed and our professional hunter, Frikkie, met us. No problems unloading, or with the rifle, things were looking up. We headed off to camp Wag ‘n Bietje ( it means wait a bit in Afrikaans, named after a common acacia tree with thorns that grab onto your clothing and make you…wait a bit). After unloading our luggage, we immediately had a celebratory drink of Amarulo and were taken on a driving tour. We came back that evening for dinner and unpacking.
We really had to rough it…we spent our first few days with McGyver hunting and me shooting pictures of our time. We also toured their on-site taxidermy place.
The following are photos that I took while we were at camp Wag ‘n Bietje and of my photo safari that I took one morning while McGyver was out hunting. Warning, some pictures may be disturbing, this was a hunting trip so there are some “trophy” shots. The pictures are from just the first two days we were out on Safari. I took more than 800 photos! I created a collage, for a quicker viewing, honestly I could post for months about everything we did and all the details of the hunt, but I will spare you…this time. If you mouse over the photos you will get a a label, in case your wondering what that weird animal with the curlicue horns is.
Why yes, that was a baby Rhino! Someone had killed his mommy, so the the secretary, Ansabet, was raising him until he could be put back in the wild. I know, how cool that I got to play with a baby Rhino. I will tell you that you have to watch your toes!
The klipspringer is real, it’s another one of Ansabet’s rescue animals, in this case more of a pet.
Some other interesting stuff, we were there with another couple and they were from Florida. M&M, if you are reading this, we had a great time with you! By the way, Mr. M got a cape buffalo, down with one shot! Another guest arrived, a zoology professor from Edinburgh, Scotland. He was doing research on the stress animals go through during a hunt and live kill, I believe he was comparing it to live capture. Anyways, he was there to draw blood right after a kill and analyze it. He is an animal lover and vegetarian, can you believe what he had to put up with to get his research!
If you are wondering what happens to the meat, don’t worry it is all used. We were served kudu, buffalo, springbok, etc. Some of it is for the lodge and most of it is donated.
I actually had a recipe that I recreated at home to post, but I didn’t save the pictures before deleting what was on my card…well, that’s just the way my life is going right now.
We leave today for a long weekend up at the cabin. Next week I’ll post part deux of our trip. Enjoy your weekend!