While the hiking function of Quo Vadis might have terminated with a whimper, the game viewing segment of our “hike” bore testimony to both Malcolm’s generosity as well as the capacity of a certain contingent to once again drink themselves into a stupor. For them, the wealth of game was a distraction.
But as Julie Andrews would sing in the Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning”.
Main picture: Malcolm’s shack in the Olifant’s North Game Reserve
On the Saturday morning the hike commenced with the members challenging conventions by refusing to commence the hike. Their objection – a smattering of rain drops – intimidated them. Even the most resolute ultimately succumbed to this mortal foe. None would show their mettle. With my nod of (dis)approval, we trooped off to sunnier climes: Malcolm’s magical bush veldt home.
En route we stopped off at Tzaneen with Arnold & I shopping for a week’s worth of groceries and the Germans shopping for two weeks’ worth of booze. Even with Malcolm’s plaintive pleas still ringing in their ears, that he was already overstocked in the booze department, they could not desist from destocking the liquor store.
Malcolm’s mansion is located on a private game reserve called the Olifant’s North Game Reserve – so-called to distinguish it from the Olifant’s South Game Reserve – where Janine has her mansion. Apparently as they could not mutually agree on whether it should be a 10-star mansion or a bush cottage, each has their own. It is accessed through a 1930s era farming area called Griekie for indigent white farmers. All of these game reserves abutting the Kruger no longer have any fencing. Consequentially game can now wander through the private reserves from the Kruger National Park.
Malcolm’s residence is “hidden” on a ridge line. It comprises four wings, two with two bedrooms apiece. The main wing – the living area – comprises a kitchen, lounge and dining room. Clearly no cost was spared in its construction. It is a far cry from the usual hiking huts to which we are accustomed. But it came with unwelcome news, the myriad instructions, the do’s and don’ts all at the behest of Janine, or so Malcolm alleged. Wasn’t Malcolm aware that we were a bunch of slobs with a total disregard for norms and conventions?
This only cast a temporary pall over the Germans as they had more pressing matters at hand like getting stuck into the booze. A bruising battle then ensued for control of the cooking. With the Germans more concerned with getting as much grog down their throats as possible and both Malcolm and I deferring to Arnold it was ever generous Mr. Paikin who gratuitously accepting the title as Cooking CEO.
Before commencing the meal , we had to endure a lecture on the decorum and etiquette of eating. Each was handed their own personalised serviette ring as well as own serviette to be used for the duration of the stay. Eating meat with one’s hands was declared verboten as apparently only the starving untermenschen may do so. Well I was starving but obviously not starving enough to relax the rules but my eating style or lack therefore did allow me to be accorded the designation as ein schwein.
As regards the cooking, Peter will have to up his game otherwise we will have to employ Paikin as the resident chef in future. This exalted position on his Linked-In CV will enable him to attain even more magical hights in his evolving career.
Game was plentiful with elephants, giraffes and zebras in abundance. Lions had their very own cafeterias well-stocked with tender young impalas. Many of the days were overcast and cool which for me was more reminiscent of Port Elizabeth during the 1960s and 70s than the Lowveld in summer.
On the Wednesday, we attended a nature walk. James, our guide, introduced us to the Lowveld’s fauna and flora. The most unusual was the tree dwelling toad, with their white nests in the branches and the velvet mites. For those of you who log their hiking mileage, I suggest that this three-hour excursion be claimed. Otherwise how do you justify it to your wife. In retrospect, it was probably sensible that we did not hike Magoebaskloof as the complaints of aching muscles after a 3-kilometre 3-hour walk bears testimony to our unfitness and progressing years.
With most of the Club’s members now spread over the world, having the ilk of Arnold and Kurt or Malcolm and Clive for that matter, on the same hike in future, is highly unlikely. So it was on a fitting note that Quo Vadis closes a chapter in our lives.
Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, see ya
Quo Vadis 1989 to 2020