As I write this at 8:30 am, soon at 9;15, Louise and Danie are picking us up in their vehicle to take us to a surprise for my birthday. I have no clue what it is, nor does Tom. When we return in the early afternoon, I will finish this post and share with you what we did.
Tonight is my birthday dinner at Jabula, which undoubtedly will be another great time spent with friends. We decided to host the dinner and tell guests, “no gifts” since I don’t have room in my luggage for anything new. When we arrive at Karen and Rich’s house on March 24, a box from our mailing service will be waiting with some new clothes for me, suitable for the upcoming cruise.
I’d ordered jeans, bras, and tops but still have to purchase a few items while we are in Florida. I need a good pair of walking shoes and dressy shoes for the cruise. The shoes I am walking in now don’t provide the necessary support. Tom needs several items as well.
Well, we’re off for the surprise adventure. Of course, I am taking the camera and hope to be posting interesting photos of what we’ve seen and done.
We’re back. It’s 1:45 pm, 1345 hrs, and we had a most extraordinary time. Louise and Danie outdid themselves, and much to our delight, Rita and Gerhard surprised us and met us at the game reserve. We drove for about 45 minutes in their four-wheel-drive vehicle on a pot-hole-ridden road to Jeppe’s Reef to the currently closed game reserve, KWA Madwala.
Several reasons resulted in this game reserve being closed. Still, mainly Covid-19 seemed to have the most significant impact when foreigners weren’t flying into South Africa for such an extended period. It’s only now that the possibility of a grand re-opening has presented itself, as more and more flights are coming into the country packed with holidaymakers looking for safari adventures.
The reserve appeared quiet and like a ghost town. But according to the managers who took the time to come and meet us, they will be re-opening sometime in the next three to six months when it will again become a thriving establishment.
The magic of this exceptional property is that a herd of seven elephants, who roam free in the wild, come into the grounds of the reserve and greet visitors after years of doing so, accepting apples and pellets as treats, allowing the guests to interact with them.
Getting the elephants accustomed to humans under these circumstances took years of loving and gentle persuasion, all accomplished with food rewards. There are no ropes, chains, or sharp objects needed to entice the elephants to interact with visiting guests.
Based on the fact that Louise and Danie know the managers well, they were able to gain access to the property and see if the elephants would willingly come to an open area to meet us, accepting apples and pellets while allowing us to be close to them, to touch them and be up close and personal. No doubt, it was a remarkable experience, especially knowing they did so of their own volition.
Based on the festivities of my birthday continuing today in a few hours and my need to get my walking done, I will be writing more about this adventure in tomorrow’s post with many more photos. Tonight, we’ll take more photos of my small dinner gathering at Jabula and look forward to sharing more.
Thank you to many of our readers/family/friends who have sent me heartfelt birthday wishes. I wish there were time to write back personally to everyone for the messages I’ve received in my inbox. But, I assure you, I will be reading each message with appreciation.
Have a fabulous day!
Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2021:
|We wrote in the caption of this photo, on my 70th birthday in 2018, at my party at Jabula with friends: “We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrating life, health, our experiences, and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.” For more from that date, please click here.