‘Because you are the only passenger on board on that date, you have to pay for three passengers.’ That’s the message Inyati Game Lodge received from Federal Air, the airline that flies from Johannesburg to the runway at Inyati. At the end of my previous blog about Sabi Sand, I had expressed my preference to fly rather than wander in a rental car, hence the plan with FedAir. But of course, that didn’t happen. Fortunately there was another option: with Airlink to Skukuza in Kruger Park and from there with transport arranged by Inyati. A comfortable solution of only 1.5 hours from Skukuza.
I came up with the idea to go to Inyati because they offer an attractive winter special, which makes a stay more affordable for residents of South Africa.
I still have vouchers from Kulula for the trip from George to Johannesburg and another one from Airlink, so I feel like I’m traveling for free again.
I’m almost in time to go on my first afternoon game drive, but the staff want to give me something to eat first, so the game ranger and the other guests leave and come back a little later to pick me up. Such a good start and quite a service.
Immediately an elephant and a beautiful evening sky.
Enthusiastic ranger Gabriel
In addition, a curious lion
A few more atmospheric photos
It’s great to be back at Inyati, where I was last in November 2018. Lots of the same people, but also new faces. Katherine comes to say hello and welcome me. Everyone cheerful and determined to give me a good time.
The beautiful sunrise.
The photos tell the story.
Bundu bashing in search of a lion. The knocked-down bushes come up again, so there is virtually no damage. Tracker Cliff gives directions.
After a two-hour drive and a cup of coffee we walk in step back to the lodge guided by Gabriel.
Fortunately, there are some more guests at the moment, after a terribly difficult year in which all lodges were forced to be closed. There is a family with three grown children from Chicago who are in the game vehicle with me. We get along very well.
After every morning drive an extensive breakfast awaits us and after that we are free. I check my mail, send pictures and read my book.
At half past three it is time for the next drive. Looking for any animal.
And there is a leopard
Crossing a river, my best.
Another beautiful sunset and a G&T with snacks.
That evening we have supper in the boma with a nice and warm wood fire, because it is cold.
The next day we search for a leopard with two cubs. It is freezing this early in the morning (we leave at half past six), but luckily there are ponchos with a fleece lining and a hot water bottle. That helps.
Leopards love a rocky environment and this one has found an excellent and safe place for her cubs.
The leopard jumps to a higher rock to keep a close eye on the environment.
Above is a little one, visible just behind a bush.
The owner comes to introduce himself. Carlos, who is there with two couples. ‘I know exactly who you are,’ he says. ‘I’ve heard a lot about you, I hope you’re having a good time again’. I can only confirm that. A couple has also arrived from Pretoria, who have been to Inyati several times too. Pleasant people with whom I have nice chats. We exchange phone numbers as there is a chance they will come by in July. With two friends from Hoedspruit, a German couple and an American, the lodge is now completely full. (The family has left for Victoria Falls.) Good to see that. I have caught up with George in the meantime, my friend whom I have known for years. Carlos has arrived with his own plane and the pilot and co-pilot are in the same vehicle with me. The nice thing about Inyati is that it is so informal and relaxed. Carlos is not somebody like: do you realise who I am.
I wouldn’t mind to take a flight with this one.
As if the sky is on fire:
Another beautiful sunrise, we are spoiled and not only with that.
I’ve seen all the big game now. Only my favourite animal is missing and that is the cheetah. This wish also comes true. I can’t remember the last time I saw a cheetah.
That makes my day.
I am sitting on my room’s terrace in the afternoon when suddenly an elephant walks past on the lawn and a little later a Nyala comes to say hello.
That afternoon, after looking at an elephant that refuses to cross the water, we see quite a few vultures soaring through the sky. That means there must be a kill nearby. We search and find some remains of an impala, but not the lion or leopard that swallowed it.
This is the best photo in my opinion. A white backed vulture high up in the tree.
On my last day there is still time for a morning game drive. We go back to the leopard with the two cubs, who now show themselves better.
Couldn’t have asked for a better ending.
After a tasty breakfast I am waved goodbye by Katherine, daughter Promise and her 1-year-old son Priel. It’s drizzling, unusual for this time of the year.
On to Skukuza airport, which looks charming.
It certainly won’t be another three years before I go to Inyati again, such a pleasure to be there.
(edited with love by Julia Thomas)