Last year we went on an extended expedition to the Indian Ocean to fish the untouched atolls of the southeastern-most Seychelles Islands. On our way to the Seychelles, we had stopped in Johannesburg South Africa to gather our gear and prepare for the next leg of our "journey". It was there that our friends and hosts, Dean Riphagen and Tom Lewin, owners of Frontier Fly Fishing, introduced us to Rob Wyndham who oversees the Game Preserve called Sabi Sabi.
Entrance to the Bush Lodge.
Sabi Sabi, located near Kruger Nation Park is South Africa's premier game viewing preserve. Now I know that this is a stretch for someone who has spent their entire life near the coast to end up in the African bushveld, but I can tell you that this rates as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
You had to watch out for these guys, they were always curious and would try to get in your room if you left the door open.
While there are no pictures or words that can accurately convey the feeling of seeing these animals up close and personal, words and pictures are all we have so hopefully you will get a sense of what it's like to wake up hearing Lions roar in the middle of the night directly outside the cottage, seeing Rhinos, Elephants, Giraffes, Lions and Leopards, Impalas and yes, even Dung Beetles so close you can almost touch them!
So close you could hear them breathe and actually smell them!
A Rhino's head never really lifts more than a couple inches from this position for their entire life!
We waited for hours before theses lions got up and started moving.
Not your usual sunset.
Very disconcerting when you see a lion looking right at you!
You will never forget the experience of hearing a lions roar just before they set out to hunt!
The Rangers are trained so well that they have to go through an intensive program that includes botany for all the plants in the bush, taxonomy from the largest animals to the smallest insects, shooting courses where they learn when and when not to pull a trigger on a charging animal, driving courses where they can fail by running over a beetle, and social courses helping them deal when people of all nationalities and temperaments. Its truly amazing the level of skill required to be a ranger at Sabi Sabi. The most impressive part of the Rangers was how passionate and proud they there are about their work and what genuinely wonderful people they are!
The crew hard at work.
Every outing had a Ranger driving and a tracker in front looking for signs of where the animals might be. The area was vast so this changed day by day.
The Rangers there were not only incredibly skilled but just really nice people. Amazingly enough, they can get fired if they run over bugs on the road!
Wes Miller and Tim Schick cutting up with Sabi Sabi Ranger "KG"
Impalas here, to me they are the "bait fish" of the bush, everything eats them!
Sabi Sabi has several "lodges" We stayed at two of them because of our limited time. The word "lodge" falls short of the experience that we had there. The Bush Lodge was done in, as the name implies, an African "bush camp" motif.
There was a lot of patience involved not only in finding the animals but waiting sometimes hours before they would wake up and start hunting.
The Rangers had to know everything from the smallest birds and insects to the Rhinos and Elephant.
One of my personal favorites, DUNG BEETLES!!!
I used to do handstands for you!
While it was simultaneously beautiful and luxurious, it never detracted from the feeling of being in a wild and untamed place. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner was served on a veranda where at any time you could look out into the field and see wild game.
Part of the veranda overlooking the bushveld.
This was our view out the veranda of the Bush Lodge where we ate our meals!
The Earth Lodge was literally cut into a hill overlooking the bushveld and the best way I can describe it is like you were living in some exotic cave that you could go out the entrance at any time and relax or take an outdoor shower while looking at elephants in your "backyard"! Unbelievable!
The "crew" ready to start our adventures in the bush at Earth Lodge.
The entrance to Earth Lodge, this place is literally cut into the mountainside and so hidden you can barely see it from the field.
The view out of the backdoor of your "cave" room!
This was the view from the patio where we ate our meals at the Earth Lodge.
The bar at Earth Lodge......
...... boy were we ever spoiled here, it was almost embarrassing!
Many thanks to Rob Wyndham and Sabi Sabi for making something that we thought was just to pass the time into a unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience!
Peeing with the "Big Five", is this proper?
I don't usually recommend many things, but I can tell you that if you ever get the chance to come to Sabi Sabi, it will change your life, it did mine!
For More Information visit Frontier Fly Fishing