Welcome to Kirkmans! Upon arrival, we were requested to leave our bags outside. We made our way through a room full of stuffed animal heads, hunting supplies, and lavish furniture. The woman walking us through started on the history of Kirkman’s. As she talked, I looked at the furniture and the gorgeous decorations around the lounge.
When Kirkman’s Camp was started, it was used as a hunting reserve. Now, it is used for safaris and as a conservation reserve. She said, “We don’t promote hunting, it is just part of our history.” As she said this she pointed at the guns, ammunition, and animal parts around the room.
After she finished, she walked us into a separate lounging area with a bar. We sat down and a large man in a grey and white button-down t-shirt and khaki pants served us homemade lemonade in champagne glasses. We learned that his name was Sam, and he was our butler. I couldn’t believe how nice the camp was. I have never before had a butler or helper of any kind (except, of course, hotel housekeeping) and I was amazed. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. We walked to our rooms, which had three twin beds, and one queen bed. The bathroom was massive and all the food and drinks in the mini fridge were free. I learned that they had a pool, and that they gave us bird guides and a list of animals to look for. With this came as follows: One bag of cheetos, One bag of gumdrops, A chocolate and peppermint bar, A journal to track our finds and, Some colored pencils.
We had to wait a while before going on our afternoon safari, so we spent it relaxing in the air conditioning. When four thirty rolled around, we excitedly went to “tea time”. After a snack and a drink, we all piled onto a giant, open air safari vehicle. We met our Ranger and our Tracker, Rikus and Richard. As soon as we climbed up and on, Gianna and I asked at almost the same time, “Where are the seatbelts?” Rikus looked back with a giant grin on his face. “There aren’t any,” he said. After getting used to the bumpiness, we looked around for some animals.
After some Impala, baboons, Vervet monkeys, Nyala, leopards, and elephants, we were all tuckered out. On our way back, we saw three genets, which are extremely hard to find. I also was a little bit sorry for using up Rikus’s tissues. I got a bloody nose on the vehicle. Gianna immediately asked for tissues when she saw me leaning over the side of the vehicle in order to not get any on the seats. While I held a tissue to my nose, Gianna attemtped to scrub the blood off of my hands, one by one. We were the dream team. We were so quick and good at what we were doing (practice makes perfect, aka I have a lot of bloody noses) that it was done in fifteen minutes.
At dinner, we gathered around a big fire and enjoyed a delicious buffet. We ate till we were full, and then they brought out dessert. A few of us managed to eat it, and it was delicious. It was a South African specialty, Malva Pudding. I have no idea what is in it so I won’t explain what it is. After we finished, a chorus (including one of the cooks) marched around the fire and sang songs in a language I could not identify. At the very end, they sang the “Happy Birthday Song” to one of the guests, and gave her a giant cake. Her eyes immediately looked surprised and sorry, because she knew she couldn’t eat so much as a slice. As she said, “I feel so bad not eating it, but I’m so full!” She offered slices to everyone at the camp - being there was only about twenty of us.
After dinner, we got into bed and set our alarms for 4:30 am! The reason was, the safaris start at five because it gets too hot past about 10:00 am. After a good night’s rest, we walked up to the safari vehicles. Our morning safari begins! Three hours into our four or five hour long safari, it started to get hot. We were all tuckered out and sweaty from a five hour safari, and settled down to have breakfast in the wilderness. Our butler, Sam, had alreagy set up a buffet of eggs, bacon, and fruit in a small clearing by the usually-full river, (they are having a drought and the river is almost dried up.)
When we got back to our room for some leisure time before lunch, we decided to have a rest and then go check out the pool. We reached the pool, and in the sweltering sun it looked blissful. We all took off our cover-ups and Tori was the first to venture out of the shade. “OW!” She yelled and jumped back. I said, “Is the ground a little hot, Tori?” she glared at me. I walked in my flip-flops to the edge, and quickly stepped out of them and into the pool. I eased my way all the way in to my neck in a matter of seconds. It felt so good against my hot skin. I dunked my head under and watched Tori, Gianna, and Mama climb in. It felt so good.
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The next day was our last. We took a morning safari, which was quite eventful. We decided to go looking for mongoose (which Tori desperately wanted to see), and zebra. within minutes of getting on to the vehicle, Richard spotted a family of mongoose. Tori was beyond delighted. After some searching, we gave up on the zebras. As we were driving back towards camp, Rikus got a notice that there was a male lion on the reserve. Rikus yelled, “HOLD ON!” and we gripped the handles as he spen off in hot pursuit. We found it. It was walking through some bushes. Rikus told us that this male had taken a kick in the face from a giraffe, and there was now a tooth dangling out of it’s mouth. We were stunned. Rikus also told us that it had been dangling for about two weeks, and wouldn’t seem to come out. The lion had even taken down a buffalo and it still hadn’t come out.
The lion walked away and headed through some thick brush. Rikus got excited and said, “This is gonna be fun. Hold on to your stuff, girls.” We off roaded. We drove over dead trees, bumps, ditches and hills. At one point we went at a 45 degree angle straight through an acacia tree. By the way, acacia trees have one-and-a-half long (approximately) thorns. Da got a nick on his ear, and Rikus nearly fell out of the van (the vehicle has no doors). IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!
I was sad to go, but as soon as we said goodbye to Sam, Rikus, Richard, and all the other staff members, I fell asleep on the ride to the airport so it didn’t matter anymore.