Today we head east, to prepare for the long trek north to Botswana. In the morning, we stop at Amarula Lapa, the site of production for South Africa’s national drink. The Amarula tree produces a yellow fruit with a white flesh, and is loved by elephants. It cannot be cultivated, and so fruit for the drink are collected by locals and then pressed and separated to make oil or cream. The Amarula drink is a cream liqueur, similar to Bailey’s, that is either served over ice or in coffees.
After lunch, we stop for a game walk at the Polokwane Game Reserve, which is publicly protected land. The game reserve contains a small population of rhinos, as well as antelope and other small mammals. The land is very dry, with tall brown grasses and acacia trees covered in thorns the size of toothpicks. We see a small group of eland, and one giraffe feeding on acacia in the distance. The giraffe do not seem to be bothered by the thorns, as their thick black tongue wraps around the branches to remove the leaves. Soon, we come across a group of wildebeest sleeping under the shade of a flaming acacia tree. We slowly approach them on foot, and while the stand, they seem comfortable with our presence and do not run. As we come closer we can see that they have young; eventually, they make their way back into the grasses and we return to our van to drive to our camp for the night.
Dinner is a traditional venison pie. There are no deer here, so venison is actually made from various antelope species. Our pie is made of springbok meat, and served with caramelized sweet potatoes, carrots, and potato wedges. Our camp is at a high altitude, and we bundle up for bed as the temperatures drop close to freezing.