Day 10 – Hluhluwe to Ermelo

The following morning Heather surprised a Hyena skulking around the braai area like a naughty dog. He skulked off into the bushes looking over his shoulder with an injured expression on his ugly face.  A short while later Heather heard crashing through the tress and woke me up at the ungodly hour of 5:45 am to witness two bull elephants at the edge of the clearing right in front of our cottage. This was an awesome experience and we have decided we would definitely return here to spend a few more nights living amoungst the animals. No other game parks we have encountered bring you into such close contact.
After a quick breakfast of Pro-Nutro we packed up and embarked upon a morning game drive which would eventually lead us up to the Hilltop camp for lunch and then the memorial gate. Along the way we had the best sightings of giraffe,  zebra, rhino and impala (aka lion food) but sadly did not see anyof the big cats – we were told that they can be seen at night. This seemed quite odd to us because of the R300 fine after 6pm rule, but after observing all the headlights in the bush the night before we assumed that the folk out there were happy to break curfew to see lions for a measly R300. Next time we may also do an impromptu night drive and pay the R300 spot fine.
We exited the Memorial Gate and once again found ourselves driving through darkest, rural africa past women with mud painted on their faces and bright pink rondawels. We were expecting a quick drive to Ermelo on the N2, on the map the N2 appears as a thick blue line which up until now has been beautifully maintained single or dual carriage ways and we thought the same would be true for the 300km stretch to Ermelo. Iin fact, this part of the N2 is a lot worse than some dirt roads with deep pot holes and corrugations plus the damaging effect of poor and repeated patching of the road surface. Fortunately for future travellers they are currently upgrading this road, but unfortunately for us these road works added over an hour to our journey.
We got to the Izimbali Lodge in Ermelo at about 5pm, unpacked and went straight to dinner at the conjoined bistro. If you ever eat here order something from the steaks and grills menu and not pasta or fish, as they specialise in grills but are not too hot at the rest. The steak I had was excellent, Heather’s pasta was awful. I decided I’m on holiday so I ordered a grilled chicken to the room. Feeling outdone, my cholesterol packed it’s little duffel bag and went into hiding.