Excitement for the Middletons of Palm Beach, Florida…
We researched each part of our South African vacation carefully. The most important part was the family safari. We learned about Buffalo Thorn Lodge as a place South African families go for 5 star amenities and guiding. The more we researched, the more we liked it. Buffalo Thorn is in a malaria-free part of Africa. It’s close to Sun City (where we went down the world’s longest zip line!). And we could rent the entire Lodge so we could do exactly what we wanted. Other lodges have restrictions driven by the needs of other guests such as prohibiting children on game drives. We didn’t want that.
The animal viewing at Buffalo Thorn was spectacular. We saw the big 5, giraffes, kudu and all the fabulous animals we expected. We also experienced the unexpected: we followed a pack of wild dogs as they hunted two impala; we watched a dung beetle roll a ball up a hill; and we saw so many great birds. Buffalo Thorn never disappointed. Our guide, Jacques, is the head guide for the area. He knew both scientific information and fascinating stories about everything we saw. Jacques’ explanations, both on the drive and later around the campfire, made the bush come alive.
We kept a family journal of our trip. Here’s an excerpt: “Today was so exciting. Amy and I were sitting on the deck of our bungalow by the pool, relaxing after the morning game drive, when I saw a huge bull elephant walking along the electric fence surrounding the property. We slowly moved behind some bushes so we wouldn’t scare him off. We motioned for Charlie, Cliff and the girls to come. The elephant kept walking. Then he stopped to uproot an entire tree and eat the foliage. So powerful. Charlie decided to get closer and take some pictures. He must have gotten a little too close because the elephant paused, and looked right at Charlie. My heart stopped.
Cliff whispered in a calm, quiet voice for everyone to stay perfectly still. We did. We didn’t dare move. The elephant flared his ears and looked aggressive, but he didn’t move any closer. Charlie was behind a tree, inside the electric fence, but we knew the elephant could charge right through the fence and tree if he wanted. After a few tense seconds which felt like minutes, the elephant seemed to lose interest and went on with his grazing. We breathed again and slowly walked up to the Lodge’s hide. The hide is an elegant, elevated structure with comfortable chairs. We sat and watched the bull and the rest of the herd in safety and comfort. The evening’s sundowner was just as eventful. As we drove through the dark, we heard the roar of a male lion…”
Photographs by : The Middletons