The second half of our honeymoon started with a drive to the Mozambique/South African border at Kosi Bay, where we were swooped up by a representative from Thanda Private Game Reserve. From there we drove through KwaZulu Natal, South Africa passing lots of cattle and locals until we reached Thanda and all it’s glory.
The landscape on the reserve was like none I’ve ever seen and this cactus tree was so majestic, it looked like a mirage of sorts.
Once again World Odyssey got it right and booked us in this gorgeous villa. Shaped like a traditional Zulu homestead, it had a panoramic view of the surrounding game reserve and a heated plunge pool.
After some down time in our gorgeous villa, we set out for our first game drive! We were paired up with the dream team of Biggie and Christian as our tracker and guide respectively. Biggie is the real deal, a native Zulu tribesman, who knows everything there is to know about the wildlife (and plant life) in Zululand. He also made us a toothbrush out of a stick, so there’s that. Christian is a walking encyclopedia who’s super knowledgable about everything Zulu and who also happens to be an amazing photographer. He helped me set my camera just right to capture some incredible wildlife photos. Honestly, I went from taking photos on auto to basically becoming a National Geographic employee, after one quick lesson with this man…he’s a genius!
With this dream team, we drove about 10 minutes away from the lodge, when 6 cubs decided to give us a very warm welcome to Thanda. The cuteness level was off the charts! It’s hard to believe that these little guys could kill you in an instant. Damien was over the moon since cats are his favorite thing in the world (see the hashtag #gazpachofahey on Instagram and you’ll get what I mean). It was an incredible start to our first ever safari.
And as if 6 adorable cubs wasn’t a perfect enough welcome, just before sunset we stopped in the middle of the bush for a drink. Right before our eyes, Christian turned our Land Rover into cocktail bar and whipped us up two 007 martinis! What’s a 007 martini, you ask? It’s a perfect vodka martini, dry with 3 olives, fit for Mr. Bond himself and it was delicious!
A gorgeous bush sunset ended our drive, but it was just the beginning of our Thanda adventure. So many more beautiful wildlife photos to come.