#CountryRunner Ian Macleod rolled in to Three Tree Hill at lunch time on the Sunday after the second 25km leg of Run the Berg 2014. That left just long enough for a delicious lasagna, a quick shower and one of the best game walks he can remember.
Lunch is a laid-back and chatty affair. It wasn’t long before I was chiming in with travel stories with a large family from the south of France and a honeymooning couple from Belgium, all of us chopping and changing between French and English. The long patio table must seat a good 12-14 comfortably, and is great for socialising with other guests. The midday sun means the weather is baking outside, but the old-fashioned wrap-around patio stays lovely and cool.
The lasagne with salads was a treat. Co-owner Cheryl Blackburn takes charge of the kitchen, but refutes inquiries whether she is the chef. She limits herself to managing logistics, hunting down new recipes and implementing them. The small staff, mostly hailing from the nearby village, take charge of rustling up delicious country fare.
I had just enough time for a quiet coffee on the little deck outside my room. It would not be a stretch to list this among the half-dozen most picturesque places I’ve ever enjoyed a brew. The solitude was wonderful. The views into the Mfazimnyama Valley of the Spioenkop Game Reserve were quick to induce that aura of peacefulness the African bush tends to have.
Thoroughly fed and ‘caffeined’, I joined the group for one of Simon Blackburn’s renowned strolls through the park. White rhino are the reserve’s only Big Five inhabitants, but it has plenty of buck, superb birding and lots of other critters one would miss without the wise eye of the sort Simon possesses. In the snap above he explains the habits of a leguvaan who was in that spot no more than a few hours before.
This was our second mother and calf of the day. The white rhino are the primary reason Simon is obliged to carry a rifle in the park, even though they pose a minimal risk. Their eyesight is very poor, so approaching properly, from the right direction, means these wonderful beasts are scarcely aware of prying eyes.
These zebbies were in an energetic mood. Here they paused briefly in the dust their own stampede across the plains had kicked up.
Our French cohorts were new to the whole safari experience, but soon fell under the spell of Simon’s storytelling.
Despite having left my zoom lens in the hotel room, we got close enough for some decent shots. It’s a terrific privilege to see these mighty animals in the flesh, looking so healthy.
Giraffe sightings are always different. They seem to be the one animal that not only doesn’t mind the nearby presence of tourists and cameras, but is thoroughly intrigued by all this activity!
Sunset always seems to arrive too quickly in the game reserve. We made our way back to the lodge as the sun hit the tops of the surrounding hills.
Cold beer and hot coffee on the stoep are non-negotiable as a chance to discuss sightings and share photographs. And just look at that view…
When the sun does disappear, there’s nothing better than chatter around the fire in this magical place. threetreehill.co.za