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Mabalingwe- part 2

Getting close to nature


As far as safaris go, you can't get much closer to the animals, than on the back of a horse. Monday morning we presented ourselves bright and early just before 7:00am at the horse safari gate. We were a bit worried, as we could see the horses, but none were saddled up and there wasn't a guide in sight. Andrew peered over the fence of a nearby dwelling and greeted the occupant: our facially hirsute guide from the previous two safaris. He does not do the horseback safaris.
Some milling around was done, and two other groups joined us waiting for the safari to commence. We started chatting to the one lady and her dad. We were conversing in Afrikaans - and then the dad asked where we were from. When they found out we were from Brisbane, the lady commented that our Afrikaans was very good. I did explain that I am originally from South Africa and that Andrew had basically grown up here. This lady had done the safari before (they co-owned a house on the game farm), and enlightened us that the safari only starts at 7:30 - Africa Time...
Some more horses were rounded up and the stable chaps started saddling them up. Andrew's horse was named Ruby; I can't remember what Robyn's stead was named, and mine was "Renoster" which is the Afrikaans word for a rhino.
The first thing I noticed, was that they were a bit smelly- probably not more than any other horse but it was a generous dose of animal odour.
Off we set into the bush-veld.
It did not take long for Andrew and I to have a new-found respect for the entire week that Robyn spends horse riding at Gumnuts and Bestbrook on holiday camps. Andrew even commented that the cowboys of days gone bye had impressive staying power with respect to a saddle.

The first hour of the ride went by rather uneventfully, with a few distant glimpses of impala and warthog. On our way back to the stables, the horses seemed to know that they were homeward bound and would break into a trot every now and then - for someone with limited riding experience, trotting is not a whole lot of fun. Robyn showed good form, rising in her saddle with the trot. Andrew and I were less graceful :-(
Approaching a clearing, our guide (who happened to be on a very spirited horse that at one point jumped sideways) slowed us down and whispered that there were animals ahead. A visual feast awaited us: two white rhino, a small herd of zebra, a couple of ostriches and some nyala and impala. We were about 100 metres from the rhino, who now took an interest in us- as our group moved further to the left. Andrew's steed then started to empty its bladder- which must have been at capacity - because Andrew was becoming a trifle nervous as the horse stood still while voiding, with the Rhino pair closing the gap.

I am happy to report that Andrew did not have a close encounter with the rhinos, but was very soon on his way to join the rest of our group who were now thoroughly saddle-sore and ecstatic to be nearing the end of our ride.

I have to confess at this time, that I've been looking a bit like a twonk, as I've been using the iPad to take photos. We've all seen an ipad user or stood behind one, while they are taking photos or videos - and they do look like an idiot..... Anywayyyyy..... I did not take the iPad on the horseback safari, so haven't any photos to share with you. These will follow once I've moved them from Robyn's camera.

Would we go back to Mabalingwe?
It would be nice to return one day. There is a mix of 3 and 4 star accommodation. The camping ground looked impressive- not that I'm well keen on living in a tent - but this camp site seemed quite nice. It is fenced in so there is no risk of bring trampled by a disgruntled pachyderm.

Posted by Talytail 05:38 Archived in South Africa Tagged safari game rhino

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