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Chitwa Chitwa Part One

20 Dec

With the Ellies during their afternoon drink by the watering hole

There is no possible way for me to sum up our time at the Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Reserve into one post.  There were too many special moments, too many spectacular animals, and far too many wedding ceremony pictures in the beautiful bush to cram into a single blog entry.  So, I am going to divide it into three parts….the animals, the game drive with our wedding photographer, and of course the vows.  Let’s do it alphabetically.

Just getting to Chitwa Chitwa was quite an exciting excursion of its own.  The teeny tiny prop plane was manageable.  The dirt landing strip; however, was a bit out of my comfort zone.  Brett of course thought it was fantastic – he pointed it out from the sky with that, “dude, this is awesome” look on his face.  This dude didn’t find it all that awesome.  Although – it wasn’t nearly as scary or bumpy (for that matter) as I thought it would be.  And after arriving at the lodge within minutes of landing, I was thrilled that we had tested our fear factor as opposed to taking the windy 3 hour drive from Nelspruit.

Upon arrival to Chitwa Chitwa, located in Sabi Sands, we were greeted by Natalie (one of the two wonderful women – Shannon being the other – who helped to plan our perfect African Wedding Ceremony in the Bush).  While our bags were taken to our lodge, we were escorted to their lovely outdoor lunch spot situated on what is one of the largest watering holes in all of Sabi Sands.  Here we watched the hippos swim as we dined on delightful international cuisine influenced by local flavors.  During our meal, our ranger for the week (as well as Brett’s Best Man) Tristan, came to introduce himself and give us the rundown of our schedule.  That’s right – you have a schedule on safari.  This came as no surprise to us (after countless hours of research) but for those of you thinking that you might enjoy an African safari, please be sure that you are prepared for the 4AM wake-up calls every morning for game drives.  I assure you they are worth it!  That said, if early mornings truly are your nemesis, then this may not be the vacation for you.  I would also like to add a note for those in the planning or considering stages, before I start the picture show, that we were deciding between Chitwa Chitwa and Singita.  In the end, it came down to the amazing attention that Chitwa Chitwa devoted to our questions and ideas regarding the wedding ceremony.  I am confident that we would have been very happy and impressed with Singita – but for us, Chitwa Chitwa – a smaller lodge was the perfect fit.

Now on to the slide show!

A view of the elephants taken from our room!

Up close and personal with this 10-15 year old elephant.

This elephant bull roams Sabi Sands as a loner. The eternal bachelor.

These prehistoric creatures blew our minds!

Brett and a black rhino

Hungry! Hungry! Hippo! The most aggressive species in the bush. You don't want to get in their way!

This Cape Buffalo was killed by a small pride of lions right beside the watering hole the day before we arrived. Apparently, the kill happened during the lodges lunch time for all of the guests to see nature take its course first hand. Ouch!

This hyena is taking a short break after battling it out with the vultures over the remains of the Cape Buffalo.

Even though it didn't totally work out...I was actually hoping for baby giraffes to stand in as my bridesmaids...it was still a splendid sight to see these elegant creatures in their natural habitat. Luckily, Chitwa Chitwa, named for the rickety sound an old giraffe's knees, continues to have a number of giraffe's that hang out at the lodge.

One of my favorite fun facts we learned on game drive was about giraffe lashes. Apparently, their long and beautiful lashes help them to eat from some of the spiniest trees. No Latisse prescription required.

Who knew that impalas liked to chill with little birdies?

Or with zebras?

This particular vervet monkey was one of my favorites. They are extremely curious little things - they literally can't take their eyes of you. Makes a girl feel good...

Hanging out on the sunset deck before heading out on evening game drive.

The kings come out at night!

Just look at the size of its tongue! I seriously could not believe how close they let us get to them!

Evening game drive stop for sun-downers. The staff take your drink order at lunchtime and pack the Range Rover accordingly so that you can enjoy your drink of choice as you watch the sun set, while waiting for the big cats to come out and play.

I felt a bit like Cruella de Vil during our first leopard sighting. Their coats really are to die for - but their beauty in the wild is even more stunning. I kind of want to be friends with them. Although...I am pretty sure they have something else in mind other than friendship...like dinner.

We actually didn't see leopards until our second to last game drive at Chitwa. The lions had been in such full force that they were lying low until the biggest cats in the kingdom took a break from hunting.

Coffee break on a morning game drive.

It is rare to see a lioness as active as this one was during the heat of the day. Sadly, she was on a mission to find her sisters after they had a "cat fight" and separated. Doesn't that just break your heart? Just like 7th graders...lionesses have girl fights too! Do you think they also play truth or dare and freeze each others' panties?

A very special and rare breed of stork. Maybe he will bring a special delivery to Brett and me in the near future??

Our Spotter (different from a Ranger) noticed this little guy in a tree over 50 feet away in the pitch black. Isn't he cute?

Resident crocodile at Chitwa's watering hole

Game drive photo shoot with Stefan du Plessis coming soon.  Stay tuned!

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One Response to “Chitwa Chitwa Part One”

  1. mona December 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Once again …. loved the pictures and captions. Can’t wait for “Stefan!”

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