Staycation Goals: Segway safari tour and eat with the crocs

By Janine Moodley And Nathan Craig Time of article published Dec 17, 2019

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LIFESTYLE - Safari on a segway

THE two-hour Segway safari and game drive, at the PheZulu Safari Park in Botha’s Hill, is a must-do over the festive season.

Located 35km outside Durban, one does not have to travel far for a first-hand encounter with wild animals.

From giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and impala, to the breathtaking view of the Valley of a Thousand Hills, the guided tour makes one feel like one has stepped into a movie scene from The Lion King - where Simba escapes Zazu and goes on an adventure.

Except there are no lions, only majestic herbivores.

Our tour guide, Xavier D’Hotman de Villiers, taught my colleague, Nathan Craig, and I about the area, the animals and their habitat.

We started the tour with a Segway drive, through the thatch-and-stone residential PheZulu Estate, which is connected to the park.

When we entered the estate, we were greeted by a herd of impala grazing with their young at the roadside, near some homes. We continued through and reached a border gate, which prevented residents from accessing the park.

As De Villiers drove down the rocky road, we spotted an eagle perched on a tree.

De Villiers told us about the different types of trees and flowers growing in the park.

As we got to the bottom of the hill, we stopped at a watering hole and got our Segways out. Our guide gave us a brief lesson on how to use the two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporters. We hopped on and did a dry run before going into the wild.

The Segways were easy to manoeuvre.

We saw a herd of zebra, which did not seem fazed by our presence, followed by a family of giraffe. The youngest, we were told, was 3 months old. The animals’ ears pricked up as they walked toward us, but they did not get too close.

We also saw a group of giraffe and wildebeest playfully fighting as they ran across the fields.

It was an amazing experience, far better than the usual safari game drive.

It made us feel one with nature.   - Janine Moodley

Dine with the crocs:

THERE were about 16 fully-grown crocodiles housed in a pen. There was a pool in the enclosure, along with a picturesque white table, with matching benches.

That was where my colleague, Janine Moodley, and I were expected to have our lunch.

You see, we signed up for PheZulu Safari Park’s Fear Factor experience.

We signed our disclaimers, to which one of the employees joked: “Please print your names for the certificates, just in case something happens.”

We took it as death certificates and anxiously laughed. Janine nervously ate the mutton bunny chow she ordered, while I devoured a crocodile burger before they had a chance to take a bite out of me.

But our protector, Thandeka Luthuli, stood vigilantly with her stick, to ward off the reptilian beasts.

“There’s no need to be worried. You should be safe, but we are going to feed them in half an hour,” she said.

I don’t know if it was cruel to eat a crocodile burger in a crocodile enclosure but it was delicious. Janine’s mutton bunny chow wafted a scent of freshly-made curry. The food was cooked on-site, by PheZulu’s residential chef from the Nguni Cafe.

After we were done, we left the enclosure.

“Here are your certificates. You survived,” said the same employee, who earlier bid us good luck.

Then, it was time for the crocodiles to be fed.

At the entrance is a 600kg stuffed crocodile, Junior, which died at the age of 109 in August 2012. He was just shy of 5m.

From a balcony, we watched the crocodiles gather for their 12.30pm feed.

“They don’t have tongues and can’t taste their food, so if you drop your phone and it ends up in their mouths then tough luck,” said Luthuli.

She added that they only ate rotten meat, but that day they were fed pig and donkey flesh.

They crawled over one another to get their food.

At one point, a crocodile clamped down on another’s leg, spun and ripped it off. It made away with a mouthful and left the poor thing mangled.

Parents shielded their children’s eyes and the staff were not able to break up the scuffle on time.

On the reptile tour, we saw green and black mambas, a Mozambican spitting cobra, a bearded dragon and baby Nile crocodiles.

Luthuli allowed me to have an African Rock Python rest on my shoulders.

We also saw gargantuan constrictors, such as Burmese pythons, one of which was a glistening albino.

They weighed over 35kg and were more than 3m.   - Nathan Craig

*For bookings for both experiences, call 0317771000.

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