This past weekend we had the pleasure of taking our babe on a short overnight trip to Moolmanshoek Lodge in Eastern Free State, South Africa. It was just a short one hour drive from Ladybrand, South Africa where we are staying now, so it made for a nice get away.
Moolmanshoek Lodge is a private reserve and conservation area on a spectacular 3,300 of land surrounded by the Witteberg Mountains. The lovely hosts offer horseback riding, game viewing to see springbuck, wildebeest, zebra, ostriches, and more, 4×4 drives, abseiling, and a plethora of leisurely walking and hiking trails through mountains, valleys, and forests.
It truly is a magical place. We enjoyed playing and walking with our babe through the forests and dipping our feet in the swimming dam with breathtaking views of the mountains. She enjoyed meandering through the forest and inspecting rocks and sticks, as well as watching the more than 300 horses than run wild throughout the property. My husband watched Veda while I went on a horseback ride through the mountains, which was spectacular. I saw wildebeest, zebras, ostriches, and springbucks running around playing, and is truly a place where we can walk or ride for miles and not encounter a soul. The natural beauty and stillness is astounding.
On Sunday morning we woke up early at 5:30am to jump into a game drive vehicle with a guide. Veda was still sound asleep, so I bundled her up in a blanket and let her sleep for a while longer while we drove out through the valley soaking in the sights and watching the horses graze. We were looking for the family of meerkats that are being conserved on the property, as they move around each day. I’ll admit, I was more excited about seeing the meerkats than anything else. They’re such cool little creatures!
We were happy to find the meerkats, hanging out in the sun. They of course popped back into their holes when they saw us coming, but after a little while they started popping out to check us out. They are used to friendly humans, and if comfortable enough will actually come and play a bit and climb on you! However, my fourteen month old was so excited to see them she was squealing in delight and trying to chase after them, so we weren’t able to get closer than a couple feet away before they popped back into their holes on account of baby squeals. It was delightful for both her and me, and she was shouting “chia chia” at them, which is her word for “chinchilla”- close but not quite!
I am thinking that once she is just a little bit older and able to control her emotions just a little bit more, it will be even more of an exciting experience for her to be able to interact even more with them without scaring them off with her joy. Until then, we’ll just be chasing around the ducks!
Take the Time to Stop and Lick the Rocks (Drakensberg, South Africa)