We arrived at Johannesburg airport and my excitement of a private flight to Sabi Sands was short lived when I saw the propellers of the small aircraft we were about to board. My husband on the other hand could not wait to board the flight. All I could think of was, how this small aircraft will keep me safe in the sky and against turbulence. The thought frightened me and my husband painted a picture of the beautiful landscape with a view from the sky (a picture perfect moment) was worth the experience. I quietly disagreed with him but I refused to make a spectacle of myself and promised to suffer in peace.
A decision which was pointless to make as I was quite verbal with the 'torture', particularly when there was turbulence and the aircraft felt like it was about to fall from the sky. I found it particularly funny when I caught myself peeking through the window,admiring the landscape meanwhile screaming.
We shared the flight with two other couples (A German couple and a Russian Couple). I remember sharing a table with them earlier for coffee, we only made brief eye contact with a smile that barely touched the lip, the men sharing a Cigar and puffing the smoke away from us, with this air of slight arrogance and speaking in both German and Russian. I figured one of the ladies, dorned in expensive jewellery couldn't understand the Russian language, hence her husband was doing the interpretation. The two couples lighted at Mala Mala another game reserve and we continued to Chitwa Chitwa.
I was apprehensive about our stay in Chitwa Chitwa ( a surprise holiday from my husband) who described it as one where we will stay in a tree house in the middle of no where. I was worried about animals or insects that could crawl, climb or fly and maybe into our tent. The thought frightened me and left me rather vunerable. We landed on a dusty air strip and were met by Victor (whom I got to know as one of the designated drivers of the hotel) in a roof top jeep (with the hood off the jeep) with Chitwa Chitwa beautifully etched on it, he loaded our luggage into the jeep and we drove for about 20 minutes to the hotel.
On our way to the hotel, my husband quickly grabbed his camera and spotted a Giraffe with it's calf; this was exciting to watch but I was tempted and quickly followed suit in taking pictures. I underestimated how addictive picture taking in the wild will be, a lesson I experienced for most part of the trip.
The entrance to Chitwa Chitwa was rather simple but oozed quality and one that made me smile but apprehensive as I imagined the tree houses, animals everywhere (finding out from Victor there were a pack of about 10 lions the night before around the enclosure).
We picked a couple from America who were domiciled in Singapore on our way to the lodge and we exchanged the relevant pleasantries. I liked the couple instantly as they were full of smiles and rather down to earth (a trait I most love about people). We arrived just on time for breakfast and were ushered to the breakfast area whilst our luggage was checked into our rooms.
The breakfast area was very romantic (with soft linen curtains, catching the sun and wind, swaying in a seductive move, with the chandelier made of animal bones) but no sign of any tree houses, but private Chalets dotted selectively across the acres of land.
The host or maybe manager of the establishment showed us around and I was simply blown away. I quickly asked the lady where the tree houses were located as I couldn't connect this beautiful entrance, bar area, communal lounge overlooking the lake, their garden, with simple scary tree houses. The look on her face suggested my husband was pulling my legs. This was indeed an interior designers treasure trove of inspiration and haven.
After showing us around she then took us to our 'room', where we headed towards a simple hut.
This wasn't a 'room' but an amazing, private beautiful lodge with breathtaking interiors, a swimming pool, porch and an outside shower.
The view from the bed was the porch, lake (filled with crocodiles and hipopotamus) and trees.
The view from the bathroom was the same as that of the bedroom including the swimming pool. I quickly turned to hug my husband and thank him for such an incredible surprise.
The host showed us where everything was, how things worked , making sure we always locked the door and re-iterated the importance of leaving our chalet with a guide at all times after 6pm. I sheepishly asked why we needed a guide? The host confirmed my fears of wild animals roaming actively after sunset and the fact that they had an elephant visit them the the previous night. How do you know it was an Elephant I asked? She took me outside to point at two uprooted trees, the trampled garden and big paw print by the lake. I quickly said to myself 'run for your life and not climb a tree if you're being chased by an Elephant'.
The host advised lunch will be served at the breakfast area and at 3pm we have our first Safari trip. Come back and read about the Safari Trip.
All photos are by the author of his blog.