Very early on Thursday morning, MJ and Ross and I drove up to Kube Yini, a private reserve that was a bunch of hours north of Durban.Ross’s parents own an old-school safari jeep and a share of a house on this private game reserve.It’s kinda like a time share, but you have a smaller number of owners and you can just agree amongst yourselves who is using the house when.When you get to the gate, there is a security guard who checks your membership card, you sign something, and then he lets you through.Once you are through, you are inside an enormous fenced-in area where all sorts of animals roam around as they please.
Some of these animals can kill you, but most of them would prefer to run away, and if you stay in the car you are probably fine.But you are out there, surrounded by the African bush, just you and the wild life, and it’s pretty exciting.
Kube Yini has leopard, rhino, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, nyala, impala and other variations of deer. We traded in the Toyota for the 1970’s jeep and started on our way.The jeep took a little convincing to start due to the fact that it spends most of its time sitting unused in a garage, but once it started it ran strong.It’s the kind of vehicle that seemed like you shove crude oil into the fuel tank and drive the thing on the moon �" loud, creaky and violently bumpy, but bulletproof and completely dependable.Ross drove us around on a couple of circuits in the reserve and within minutes we came across a couple of giraffe with a fairly young giraffe in tow.Giraffe aren’t considered the most exciting animal to see, but I was pretty thrilled.
They look so damn strange �" big gangly things who for a few minutes look at you with a strange sort of curiosity and then decide that you aren’t that exciting and go back to munching on their leaves.They are huge, and up close they look like horses that got put on some type of cruel stretcher and dragged out to strange proportions.They also sorta look like they are smiling all the time, which is nice for some reason.We drove on and learned how to tell the difference between an impala and a nyala and kudu and a reedbuck, all deer or antelope sort of things that are different sizes and have differently shaped horns.
Between the two drives we did on Thursday and the one we got in on Friday morning, we had managed to see everything except for leopard.I was excited to see rhino again because the last time I saw a rhino I was on foot in a leech filled jungle on the border between Nepal and India.
Back then all we could do if the rhino decided to charge was to run up a tree.I felt a great yet probably false sense of security from being inside a vehicle.The rhinos paid us little mind, so we could sit there and study them without concern, which was great.There was one point on the drive where we got out of the car and hiked a short trail that led to a great lookout point.I guess it was ok to hike there because animals tend to not congregate around cliffs.The view from the lookout point was amazing.With binoculars you could see a family of baboons walking down the dirt roads on the valley floor below us.At another point during our Thursday night drive, we stopped in a fairly wide open area and I got out of the jeep just to see if it felt different.It did.I stayed very close to the vehicle, but there was a definite feeling of remoteness out there, more so than I had felt anywhere else.With a complete lack of light pollution, the amount of stars is staggering.
We see many great starry nights in Breck, but when all the constellations change location the sky looks completely different.
The house itself was pretty cool.It had a very “in with nature” feel to it.The kitchen/sitting area had a very steep staircase that climbed up to a loft that had some beds.The other bedrooms were a few paces away in a separate building.The building with the kitchen had 2 glass multi-panel doors that, when opened, created a completely open space.There was a huge deck connecting the kitchen area to the bedrooms and to a third area which had an outdoor bathroom and shower.It was the kind of place that could serve as a quaint secluded retreat or as a place for a raging party or bbq.I’m told that from time to time small animals will come up and see what you are grilling, and maybe one night a leopard would walk across your deck, but you must always be on the lookout for monkeys.Monkeys stay away when you are present, but if you leave a window open while you’re away they will sneak inside and steal your food and crap on your furniture just to insult you.Ross has had to clean up a few monkey invasions in his time.
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