I had entered a competition in September on the Graaff-Reinet website with the top prize being a 2 night stay away at Mount Camdeboo Game Park and guess who won it!
It was for two people so I invited Ashley to come with, which he accepted (would of been a tad awkward to have taken him kicking and screaming in protest). The vacation was booked for 1st - 3rd and Mount Camdeboo is situated just the other side of Graaff-Reinet
Lucy and Laura kindly drove us there and we all stopped together for high tea before they departed.
That first afternoon we were there we had a safari drive through the park. There were two other people staying in one of the cottages, so we all went together on this drive. Our ranger was called Wayne and pointed out not only animals but various plants too. Wayne even showed us how to make a rope from the bark of one of the trees.
During that mornings Safari (before Ashley and I had arrived) the other guests had seen the female cheetah eating her prey. Wayne took us to the site where she had made her kill so that we could all try and spot her. Leaving the truck Wayne took us to where her kill was. We were stopped short of reaching the kill due to Wayne spotting the cheetah. She was a few metres away lay in the shade of one of the trees. Never did I ever imagine I'd get this close to a cheetah (zoo's excluded), although I was a little worried that she'd advance on us. As we went to back away she decided to get up! Instructions of "don't move" were given although I was torn between running or hiding behind Ashley. The cheetah was at least weighed down by that mornings feast, but she went towards her carcass anyway. A cheetah looks large on a tv screen but in real life the beauty, power and size of the cat is much more breath taking.
The drive took us to one site where the "Battle of Paardefontein" had taken place. The corral where the Boars had hidden still exists right down to the original tin roof which is marked with the bullet holes. There is now also a monument to the battle on the site in memory of those who died. Wayne told us the story of the Battle which gave us a vivid picture of what had happened there.
We drove up onto one of the hills where a herd of zebra were roaming across the top. Here we all had our "sun downers" and some snacks whilst admiring the view and watching the sun disappear before heading back to manor for the night. As we drove back down the hill we came across a male rhino also making his way down the hill and using the vehicle track. Being this close to a rhino was quite something and a short distance had to be kept away.
That evenings meal was a braai and we all sat out under the stars with the area all lit up by flame torches. It was so peaceful until there was the interruption of snorting and strange noises just beyond the fence of the house. I went with Wayne and one other guest to see what the noise was from the safety of being behind the electric fencing of course. The strange noise was from the male rhino and a female rhino with her calve. Clearly it is that time of year!
We returned to the braai fire admiring the stars as we went with Wayne pointing out the constellations. Sitting around a braai fire in the evening under the stars is definitely something I shall always remember from my trip to Africa!
Despite being on holiday we still had an early morning start for our first walk out of the day. A phone call through to our room to make sure that we were actually awake, which we weren't. Rather glad Ashley had the bed nearest the phone, it meant I did not have to answer half asleep.
Before breakfast, Wayne took us for a walk through some of the park to one of the breeding/rehabilitation areas. This gave us a chance to see much more of the park but from being on foot instead of in a vehicle.
On reaching the enclosures we got to see some of the African wildcats they have from kittens to adults. One of the cats, a type of lynx I think, had been raised by humans so was that friendly we could go in the enclosure with her. We still had to be aware that she was wild but she would come right up and rub against your legs like a tame cat. Another story I can take home, which the parents won't believe!
We carried on walking to where we came across the rhino. Wayne set us some ground rules before we went any closer, such as remain low at all times. The wind was not blowing towards the rhino and the sun was shining into their eyes so we could approacha little closer. We went so far and left a good distance between us and the rhino (we had been closer to the cheetah). I was behind Wayne, our guide, who then said we could probably approach a little closer, my answer "Are you crazy?!" My heart was thundering as we approached and I'm sure everyone including the rhino could hear it. Keeping extremly low we got closer to the next bush where we crouched and watched them. It was here that Ashley had a coughing fit but managed to stiffle it a little. I must admit by this time I was a tad worried about the rhino's hearing and was glad when we backtracked.
Back at the manor a 3 course breakfast was laid out. Fruit, cereal, cold platters of cheese and hams followed by a cooked breakfast for those who wanted it.
After breakfast the other two guests left so it was just Ashley and I there. The next safari was not until 4 that afternoon so we had the rest of the day to do what we wished. It was nice and hot so both of us spent our time lazing around the pool. Despite having sun cream on I burned to a lovely shade of red. Note to self do not fall asleep in the sun. But I at least was not the only one who had fallen asleep and had burned as Ashley had as well. I did brave the pool for a period of less than 5 minutes but it was not warm enough for me, far better to be in the sun.
After high tea, we had our next safari drive. This time Wayne would be taking us to one of the other ridges. En route we passed at least two herds of giraffe before making the steep climb up to the top of the ridge. Here we had our sun downers and snacks, whilst admiring the view. We saw plenty of Wilderbeast, kudo, zebra and giraffe on our trip up. On the way back down we came across the water buffalo by torch light. It was not as cold as it had been the previous night when we'd been on safari, but Ashley and I still wore our Camdeboo Poncho's which had been provided for us.
We arrived back to a three course meal at the Manor. A starter of Tomato soup, followed by Chicken Wellington and a desert of apple crumble, YUM!
A glass of wine and an entire manor house to ourselves with a tv to flick channels on.
We had told Wayne that we did not wish to have a mornings safari so we could at least have a lie in till breakfast. It was so refreshing to be able to wake up of my own accord without an alarm.
Breafast was the same as the previous day, 3 courses. Lucy would be picking us up at 10am, so after breakfast we only had packing to do and then could chill in the sun till she arrived.
However, unfortunately one of the tyres to the subaru got a puncture along the dirt road. This meant Lucy had to get the car to the garage to sort before being able to pick us up. Therefore our Camdeboo trip was extended by about 2 hours.
In the end, Wayne took us in the truck to meet Lucy along the dirt road as the tyre would not last the distance and would just deflate. That was about the 4th tyre incident we had had in about 10 days!
It was such a great prize to be won and I got to see some animals which were not native to Britain. Camdeboo manor is a great place to visit for anyone and the staff can not do enough for you. Everything was catered for and the rooms were excellent with such comfy beds. The food was divine so it was easy to eat all 3 courses! Finally got to have a mini safari adventure too by winning and I have more memories from my time in Africa to tell the folks back home. Thanks Lucy and Laura for chauffering us there and