Every now and then it’s a good idea to completely disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, social media, and the modern day problem of being constantly in touch. What a better place to go, than the moon. Or more specifically Copper Moon, a beautiful private game reserve and lodge located just north of the Addo Elephant Park, about a 2 hour drive from Port Elizabeth.
This is exactly what the Ciarrocchi (Che-roh-ki) family did. We packed our Binny Bags and headed for the bush, away from people and cell phone reception. Pure bliss. Riding through the reserve gates we made the decision to have a “fully submerged” African experience. I was totally ready. Having grown up in villages all over Botswana, my happy place is definitely as far away from people as I can get, the more animals, the better. I was completely prepared to embrace the fact that I would have almost no outside communication for a full weekend.
We met the owner of Copper Moon, Rob, on our way in and he showed us the African palace that we would be staying in. Trust me, I don’t say that lightly, this place was exactly that, a palace. It has three bedrooms, all of which have their own bathrooms, and they all lead onto a main patio area. The biggest patio area you’ve ever seen, which looks onto a waterhole (perfect for animal viewing). The living room, dinning room and kitchen are all in the “main” area of the lodge, fully stocked and completely open plan, with a 360 degree view of the surrounding bush. The lodge itself is based in the middle of a valley, with mountains on both sides, you can’t find a better location. Now I must mention, a huge advantage to the entire Copper Moon experience is Rob himself. You won’t find better hosts than Rob and his wife Libby. They were available 24/7 if we had questions or needed any help. If you are fortunate enough to stay at Copper Moon, make sure you ask Rob to recount a few of his bush stories, they are not to be missed.
Almost as soon as we arrived, Angelo and I were ready and waiting to go for our first “game drive” to go and find what other creatures we were sharing this space with. Copper Moon is clearly not short of wildlife, almost every drive we went on, we were able to see at least 6 different species of animals. This all happened while it was not a particularly good weekend for game viewing, the weather was clearly not on our side and it was raining the majority of the time that we were there, nevertheless it was a weekend I wouldn’t have traded for the world.
On our second day there we decided to do a family drive, with the two cars that we had brought. Although they were both fairly high vehicles, we completely underestimated the power that the newly formed mud would have in stopping our car, literally, in it’s tracks. We came down to a little stream, and decided that we would brave our way forward, as if explorers of some unknown land, we needed to conquer it. We gave it our best shot, but we just couldn’t rid ourselves from the vice-like grip of the mud. Damn you mother nature. Giving Rob a quick call he assured us he would be down in twenty minutes to free us from our embarrassment. Then before he arrived, we decided to give it one last go, after much laughing (which came after the panic subsided) we were able to somehow “bounce” the car out of the streams stronghold. Of course, we forgot the camera at home, so you’ll just have to believe my story.
We continued our little game drive although you could cut the tension in the car with a knife, every time a slightly muddy area of the road appeared. Fortunately, we made it back to the lodge safely.
We ended everyday in the most South African way possible, a braai. which is essentially a barbeque, just better. Sitting by the waterhole, listening to the rain fall and being incredibly grateful that we live in a country as beautiful as this. After all, where else can you sit, making supper, while listening for the sounds of animals that have been on this planet longer than you have.
Copper Moon is just what it claims to be. Something so magical you can’t begin to think that this place even exists. Something that struck me as liberating was the fact that there aren’t any (or rather many) predators in the park, which totally opens up the playing field when it comes to activities. Unfortunately, the weather was not quite in our favor during the weekend, so we couldn’t quite take full advantage.
On our way back to the hustle and bustle of city life that Sunday, I was struck with such a sense of patriotism for this country. I love the African bush, I love that I may not have known about the latest fashion trends, but I can track an animal. I may never have grown up watching the latest cartoons, but I know which plants are safe to eat. I may never have known what a shopping centre looked like, but I know what peace comes from listening to the animals call each other at night.
I will forever be grateful for my upbringing, it may not look like the norm, but I know that being a weekend without cell phone reception won’t kill me. If anything, the weekend we spent completely isolated from society was the most peaceful I’ve felt with myself in a long time. Human beings were created for this, for the harmony of nature, our whole being calls us to experience life, out from behind the screens.