South Africa continued

By Michael Hanlon, Daily Mail

Last updated at 10:20 17 February 2003

There are plenty of rhinos - especially white, but we saw not a single lion. I thought I glimpsed a leopard, but it turned out to be a baboon. An easy mistake to make.

Our lodge in Hluhluwe organised an early-morning walk for us, accompanied by an armed guide. Walking through safari parks is a bit counter-intuitive.

Friends recently had a bad experience in this place, being charged by a truculent elephant, but the scariest moment we had was when three rhino came trotting down the hill to take a good look at us. They are enormous close up - even more so when you are on foot.

Our instructions for the drive to Rocktail Bay looked similar to the sort Stanley would have taken with him on his search for Livingstone. Lots of 'unmarked sand roads' and 'isolated forest tracks'.

You have to drive to a car park, which is remote enough, and then the Lodge will send a Land Rover to take you the final ten miles, which is impassable in a two-wheel-drive.

But it was worth it. Rocktail Bay is paradise. A cluster of treehouses - 12 wooden cabins nestling in the mahogany trees - a bar and a restaurant, and about three staff per guest. Its beach is a wonder - mile after mile of pristine dunes, and a warm, clean Indian Ocean.

You can dive, snorkel, spot hippos or drive along the beach at midnight looking for turtles. The landscape is bizarre, with huge vegetated dunes covered with monkey-infested jungle. You can explore all this or just laze around.

The food is included, and there is a wine cellar. Best of all, there's no TV and mobile phones do not work.

Most nights we sat around the bar drinking pinotage with the staff while choosing between turtling or a midnight swim.

Rarely have we been so reluctant to leave anywhere. Our friend was right, we were fine. Just fine.

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