Lion and Rhino game park

Johannesburg Travel Blog

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The view at Amadwala Lodge

We knew that the current owners of Amadwala lodge had only recently turned it from a function centre in to traveller accommodation, and there was a sense that they were still trying to figure out some of their tours.  They proposed that the lodge owner himself, Dudley, could take us for a tour of the nearby Lion and Rhino game park for 700 Rand each (about AUD$120 each).  If you sat back and looked at it, that does seem quite expensive, however we were happy with what was on offer and it ended up being a great day so no complaints! 

Our fellow traveller Nick had decided to join in too, so we all jumped in to the truck, however had also told Dudley that we couldn’t pay for the tour until we made it to an ATM.  Dudley knew of a place we could safely go, so drove us back out past the settlement we’d seen on our first night.

Brekkie by the pool
  He told us that this massive settlement had started with the farmer that owned the land setting up electricity for one shack on the land, and it had just multiplied, with people stealing power from that one source.  It was now bigger than we could see!  Many of the people here are from Malawi and Mozambique, and it was fairly apparent that Dudley favoured employing these nationalities to South Africans, at one point saying ‘he only employed people from Malawi and Mozambique at his camp, we don’t employ black South Africans since he thinks they have the mindset that “we owe them something”….’  It’s quite confronting when racism is so in your face.

He dropped us at a shopping mall that was obviously incredibly secure and had the banks all in one little zone.  He had successfully instilled fear in us though, telling us about a time when he was at an ATM last December (in an industrial area, not where we were going J ) and had a gun put to his head.

An elan (I think), my antelope knowledge is slipping...
   It’s just interesting that his attitude was very much that it was his fault, he was stupid to have tried to withdraw money in such an unsafe place.  We all got our cash and were on our way to see some wildlife!

We had always planned our Africa trip around animals so it was great to finally be able to see some of them in the flesh, even if it is in a contained game park.  Some of the sightings included Sables, Waterbucks, Oryx (gemsboks?), warthogs, ostriches, lions, cheetah and a white rhino.   All of these animals and it’s only our second day!

The trip had timed well with several predator feedings on that day so we got to see dinnertime for lions, cheetahs and wild dogs (look like hyenas but aren’t).  The lion feeding was particularly unexpected, with a ute driving down a dusty road towards this one metal stake, at which point the park ranger hooks a zebra appendage to the stake and quickly drives off again.

Ostriches and antelope, together at last
  Dudley said that he’d once seen them take too long and the lions just jumped up on to the ute!

During the cheetah feeding we were watching the session so intently that we weren’t really looking right along side the car.  It came as quite a shock to our fellow traveller Nick in the front seat when a cheetah crept past the side of the car, where Nick was leaning his arm out to get that perfect photo! It’s ok we don’t have to call him ‘Righty’ but it was close J  Dudley said that just last year a tourist had been killed by a lion when they got out of the car to take a photo, suffice to say it is frowned upon J

In the middle of the game park they have set up an animal crèche for sick or orphaned baby animals.

A waterhole menagarie
  In particular the traveller we met, Mark, had said it was well worth while to go in to an enclosure and play with the baby lions.  We were very excited about this!  They send a guide in with you who is apparently gives the little lions a bit of a tug if they start getting “too” playful J This wasn’t too much of a concern for us though, our baby lions were clearly a bit sleepy, having a very lazy rest in the shade.  Still it was great to be able to give a lion a pat, I mean, it's a lion!

The crèche had many other creatures there too, a jaguar (who didn’t look all that happy actually L ) flamingos, incredibly cute baby white lions and a baby hippo!  There was also a tiger show, which the guide made clear was a way to get the sick tigers to exercise rather than a performing circus.

Hello Mr Ostrich
  I would say the line was blurry, but the guide had clearly convinced himself it was about helping the tigers so who am I to question, he did obviously care a lot about them.  Clearly he must have had their trust since he was in the enclosure interacting with them the whole way.  The show went for just long enough for Laura to get a spray of tiger milk J before they had to call it off because one of the tigers was too sick (poor Alice).

As we drove out of the game park there was another enclosure you could visit but this was just depressing.  They had fully grown white lions and Benghal tigers in much, much smaller enclosures.  None of the creatures looked happy so I wouldn't complain if I heard that this place closed down and just stuck with the much larger game park.

A black rhino, or maybe white rhino, they look the same, one eats leaves, one eats trees
 

Last stop of the day was a little unexpected, and in no way animal related, but involved a trip to a ‘wonder cave’. It was this massive underground cavern, complete with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and well worth a visit.  Apparently Italian workers used to work in the cavern just dynamiting chunks of it away, then hauling their load all the way back up to the top of the cave, sounds like hard work!

The tour was over the day, so it was back to Amadwala Lodge. Knowing that we were heading for Kruger, Dudley told a story in which a hyena had reached into a tent and dragged a woman out by the face.   So….best not to think about that really…..

There was just  enough time for a quick shower and then to the bar for the Intrepid de-brief which basically talked through what we’d do every day of the tour so  we knew what we were in for.

Rhino close up, they look like rocks from a distance
Though the de-brief was given by another guy we did meet our guide Benny who was very friendly and some late arrivals were Madeline and Peter from Wyoming , USA.  Everyone seemed great, and even better there were only 5 of us on the tour in this massive truck!!  We were going to pick up more along the way, but just the 5 at least through Kruger National Park J

Another big day was finished up chatting away to our fellow travellers in the restaurant, but it was time to get some sleep so we would make our early morning Intrepid start.  The tour is beginning, can’t wait!!!

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The view at Amadwala Lodge
The view at Amadwala Lodge
Brekkie by the pool
Brekkie by the pool
An elan (I think), my antelope kno…
An elan (I think), my antelope kn…
Ostriches and antelope, together a…
Ostriches and antelope, together …
A waterhole menagarie
A waterhole menagarie
Hello Mr Ostrich
Hello Mr Ostrich
A black rhino, or maybe white rhin…
A black rhino, or maybe white rhi…
Rhino close up, they look like roc…
Rhino close up, they look like ro…
Poomba! We were so excited to find…
Poomba! We were so excited to fin…
The lion feeding, a ute drove by a…
The lion feeding, a ute drove by …
Now its the wild dogs turn to fe…
Now it's the wild dog's turn to f…
Apparently wild dogs differ from h…
Apparently wild dogs differ from …
Mmmmm....raw chicken...
Mmmmm....raw chicken...
We were safely tucked away in the …
We were safely tucked away in the…
Now for the cheetahs..
Now for the cheetahs..
They strolled to their meal, rathe…
They strolled to their meal, rath…
One cheetah crept around our car, …
One cheetah crept around our car,…
Cheetahs like chicken too
Cheetahs like chicken too
more cheetahs
more cheetahs
Lions continue to munch away
Lions continue to munch away
Out wonderfully set up lunch
Out wonderfully set up lunch
Laura likes baby lions :)
Laura likes baby lions :)
One of these cubs startled her not…
One of these cubs startled her no…
Awwww...isnt it cute :)
Awwww...isn't it cute :)
Apparently theyre active sometimes
Apparently they're active sometimes
Now a baby hippo at the animal cre…
Now a baby hippo at the animal cr…
Laura vs Hippo
Laura vs Hippo
Not a real elephant, which is fort…
Not a real elephant, which is for…
The pool at our lodge
The pool at our lodge
Me at the lodge
Me at the lodge
Nice little giraffe statue at our …
Nice little giraffe statue at our…
I call these pterodactyl birds, i…
I call these pterodactyl birds, i…
I like baby lions too!
I like baby lions too!