The professional hunter that Paul hired was Erik Terblanche of Amanita Safaris. Erik met us at the airport in Johannesburg after a nearly 16-hour flight from Boston. I started peppering Erik with questions before we got out of the airport garage. That continued throughout the two weeks there, and he patiently answered them all.
I admit I knew little or nothing about South Africa and my first question was about the language I was hearing. It was Afrikaans which is a mixture of Dutch, German and English. I studied German for many years and still remember a few key words. I recognized many during our visit but not enough to understand much. Erik and his wife, Tillie, speak Afrikaans, English, German and several African languages.
The ride from the airport to his ranch in the Bushveld of South Africa's Northern Province took another four hours. His ranch is near the Limpopo River which separates South Africa from Botswana.
Here are some of the photos from the ranch.
This is the lodge and private house of Erik, Tillie and their three children. Their house is on the right. Also in the foreground on the right is an in-ground pool. We were there in July which in the Southern Hemisphere is their winter. The sky was just as clear and beautiful as you see. We never had any rain, but the temperature at night often got down into the 20's and up into the 80's during the day. The sun was strong and warmed up nicely by mid-day.
Here's a balcony off the residence. Notice the house is brick but the roof is made of grass found in the veldt and called thatch and logs.
Here is the lodge where we ate and relaxed. Most days if the hunt was nearby, they went out early, came back for lunch and a rest and back out in the afternoon.
Here is home, sweet home for Paul and I for the two weeks. Called a rondavel, it was one of several on the grounds. Paul had a private hunt so we were the only people there. The rondavel had two bedrooms, a main room, kitchen (which we never used) and a bathroom. The houses there, including Erik and Tillie's, have no central heat or air conditioning.
The mornings were chilly in our little house and Eric brought me a small electric heater after my first bath in the cold. No showers! Just a handheld shower head in the tub. But everything was quite comfortable. Every morning we put our laundry in a tiny little basket. The two African women they employed came in after we left, took the laundry away and it was there in the afternoon washed, dried and folded! That was a beautiful thing.
This is the ceiling of our rondavel. See the little white patches? They were spider nests. We never saw any spiders but one of the last days Paul was apparently bitten and came home with fever and chills. When we got home he had what looked like a bite on his belly. It took several weeks of antibiotics before he was feeling back to normal. Other than that, we had absolutely no problems with our health.
Here is the inside of the lodge. It was very comfortable and very interesting.
The dining area of the lodge where we ate together with Erik and Tillie. We had three wonderful meals a day plus all the South African wine we wanted, and I wanted lots! The food was outstanding, and we got to try many new dishes. One night we sat around the braai, a traditional Afrikaans barbecue and were served Eland steaks while we looked at a star-filled sky including the Southern Cross.
There were several different birds in the trees outside our rondavel. These were my favorite.
I'm not sure what this was but it was growing all around the rondavels. Looks like bougainvillea to me. There were also lemon trees growing all around the compound that we ran out and plucked each night to have in our vodka and tonics.
Erik employed two trackers, one skinner and two women who cleaned, helped in the kitchen and, of course, did our laundry. This is Franz, the skinner. The men all spoke fairly good English, the women didn't at all.
This was some of the native transportation.
The resident Ostrich. She hung around outside of the fence that enclosed the compound. One day she raced Erik as he drove the lorry out of the camp. We clocked her at about 30 mph and she didn't even seem like she was trying.
Here I am with Erik and one of the trackers with the lorry they went out in to hunt every day. It must have been early; you can see the warm clothes we had on.
Erik owns 5,500 acres which is all fenced and has these roads cut all through it. He also has access to another 10,000 acres. Here are Paul and Erik coming back to the lorry after tracking something.
Stick around, next I'll show you some pictures from the veldt and what we saw.