African Adventure: Into the Bush

What an adventure! Tom and I have just returned from two magical weeks in South Africa, just in time for Christmas here in Ostuni, where we live on the stiletto heel of Italy. Our first week there was spent in the African bush in the provinces of Mpumalanga and, further north, in Limpopo.

Our first night was spent in Johannesburg, followed by a long drive to Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, where, in my past life, I actually lived for thirteen years. My old house has been transformed into a restaurant, part of a popular seafood chain by the name of Ocean Basket. It was quite surreal to spend a lunchtime there describing the original layout of my old home as we ate our delicious prawns.

We spent the first four nights in the Lowveld staying at a lovely little bush-lodge, near Nelspruit, by the name of Muluwa….

…..where giraffes and young Nyala roamed freely around the estate.

Everyone was incredibly friendly and we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere enormously. It was a perfect place to chill after our long journey. One day, while staying in Muluwa, we drove into Kruger National Park to see the wildlife there, an introduction to the bush for Tom, who had never visited South Africa before.

Driving slowly along the well paved roads, we were lucky to see plenty of wildlife.

Our next port of call was a two night safari at Naledi Game Lodge, deep in the bush of Balule, part of Klaserie Game Reserve. It was a fairly long drive, over the mountains via Sabie, Graskop and Blyde River Canyon,  then through the J.G. Strijdom Tunnel and downhill to Hoedspruit. However, we drove through some magnificent scenery along the way.

Naledi Game Lodge was a wonderful experience.

First of all, our bungalow was nothing short of fabulous, with its own plunge pool and deck overlooking the bush. It was called Rock Fig.

Unfortunately, the weather turned unseasonably chilly when we were there and we never did have an opportunity for our longed-for dip. But the camp itself more than made up for the disappointing weather and we had a really great time.

Early morning and sunset game drives with our driver Vuyani and his tracker Sydwell, were the highlight of our visit there.

At 05.00 we were roused from our peaceful slumber and clambered aboard our open Land Cruiser at 05.30 for our morning game drive, returning for a hearty breakfast at 09.00. Once again, at 16.30 we bounced through the African bush on our quest to see the Big Five (Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo), stopping for a welcome sundowner at around 18.30.

Returning to camp after dark, we were ready for a beautifully prepared and presented dinner at about 20.00, after which we fell into bed, awaiting our early morning call to action.

The game drives were a lot of fun. One evening, while watching a black rhino, we were joined by another land cruiser from another safari camp….the rhino hurried off….

These game drives yielded a rich variety of wildlife….from birds….

….to elephants (my favourite!). We were incredibly fortunate to come upon a large breeding herd.


….black rhino and a baby….


…..zebra….giraffe, impala and many more.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard our guide and tracker tried, we found no lion or leopard on our two day adventure at Naledi.

Then onward to Capetown, penguins and the Cape of Good Hope. Join me next time for further adventures in South Africa.

Orna O’Reilly

Ostuni, Italy


14 thoughts on “African Adventure: Into the Bush

  1. I’ve never been to Africa in person, although I’ve enjoyed it through the eye of “de Wets Wild” blog. What a wonderful trip you two had!! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m looking forward to the next visit with you. Merry belated Christmas and happy new year to you both.


    • We had a really wonderful time. South Africa has changed greatly in the past twenty years since I lived there. It’s a beautiful country, very diverse. Next blog will be on our week at the Cape. Happy New Year. X

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