I went with a friend to Mabalingwe Nature Reserve for the weekend and what a fabulous getaway. We took leave on Friday and drove the easy, just over two hour drive to Mabalingwe in Limpopo Province, 32km west of Bela-Bela. We arrived in Bela-Bela and stopped at the Pick n Pay for some groceries and at the Biltong Inn for biltong where I also interestingly got rose pedal jam. We had lunch at the Strawberry Khaya which is on the way to Mabalingwe. It is the cutest tea garden where you can sit outside and the tables have games such as Monopoly, 30 seconds, Scrabble, etc if you are in the mood. I had a mince and cheese vetkoek and the food is not great but it is such a cute place that you are willing to forgive them.
We stayed at a chalet at the Ingwe camp that can sleep six people with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft. It has a fabulous big stoep with build-in braai where you can sit and watch some of the animals walk right by. On Friday evening we experienced the longest electrical storm where the sky would just light up with lightning. After probably four to five hours there was some rain but the electricity went out intermittently until there was none and with only a crescent moon it was pitch black. It was very late when there was suddenly a lot of commotion with bakkies with their hazards on flying past. It was only the next day that we learned that the veld was set alight, probably by the lightning and people were trying to get the fire under control which they only managed to fully extinguish by late Sunday afternoon.
Although the reserve hosts the big five, we only saw the buffalo but we had such beautiful days with special and fun moments filled with stunning sunrises and sunsets that it didn’t matter. We saw a few different buck species, hippo, birds and even a snake crossing the road. On Saturday morning we had fun car rally moments while skidding through the mud due to the rain from the previous evening and us driving in a normal car and not a 4×4. In the evening we decided to have dinner at the pub only to find out the pub stops serving food at five and the restaurant had venison on their menu which we don’t eat. By the time we decided to have a braai and buy meat and charcoal from the farm stall it was closed as well and we had to settle on the buffet at the restaurant or yet another samie at home. The specialty dish for the evening was crocodile with head and feet on display. We could barely eat the few chicken pieces from a very dreadful chicken dish after sawing that. The restaurant’s buffet was horribly overpriced and really appalling but the pub lunch on Sunday was good. It was a fabulous weekend and I could have done with a few extra days but after my USA trip in August I have almost no leave left and it is always good to end a holiday on a high note. What a great weekend!