Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Purcari Winery, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bulungula to Wild Lubanzi

We enjoyed our time at Bulungula, and we're glad we made the effort to go there. But the lodge itself could be a little more organized. It takes them forever to make up your bill, so if you want to get an early start you should settle up with them the night before. When we went to pay our bill in the morning, the girl was off having a shower and we had to wait around for a half an hour. Not that big of a deal, but there were other people waiting too.

Our bill for 4 nights was R1,685 ($177) and that included one dinner meal, parking, and a few bar drinks. Not bad. We had brought food for self catering so we made our own meals the rest of the time.

Oh, speaking of making meals, the other thing they could improve on is cleanliness in the guest kitchen area. Not everybody is really good at cleaning up after themselves, but you can't just leave things that way. It's the business who has the responsibility to clean up after guests who do not...not the other guests!

As the crow flies, it's only about 10 kms (6 miles) from Bulungula Lodge to Wild Lubanzi  Lodge, but it's a two and a half hour drive if you're going to go by car!

We retraced our path in on the terrible dirt roads. Two hours to do 36 kms (22 miles) back to the paved hospital road.

Oh, another thing that would help? Road signs! Yes, they give you some pretty detailed directions to get there, but they're not that easy to follow going in reverse. And they could put up some simple signs at some of the intersections. Wouldn't take that much effort and it would make it so much better. It is easy to get lost on these back roads!

At least you have some nice scenery to look at on the long slow drive.

Hey, there's the river we canoed on a couple of days ago.

Nice road!

To get to Wild Lubanzi from the main road, you have to have a 4x4 truck. Otherwise, you park at a local house beside the road and pay R15 ($1.55) per night for parking and then call the "shuttle" from Wild Lubanzi to pick you up. You're supposed to arrange this the day before, but we hadn't read that part! Anyhow, we got out our trusty cheap South African cell phone and made the call. 

Aiden, the owner of the lodge, picked up the phone and we explained where we were. He said "oh, I think you just drove right by me", as it turns out that he was already waiting for another girl who had booked the shuttle as well. Great timing!

Zoe, a girl we had met at Bulungula was also going to Wild Lubanzi and she arrived shortly. We all crowded into the little 4x4 with our gear on our laps and Zoe's surfboard on the roof! Not a very comfortable drive, but it was only for a half an hour.

One of the things that we're learning about these out of the way backpacker lodges is that you have to be pretty easy going. Wild Lubanzi also has beautiful scenery, and that's what you go for. It's also fun for us to meet some of the other travelers. We liked that Lubanzi doesn't seem crowded at all, and the people who work there sit and socialize with everyone in the evening. But again, there's room for improvement.

Gorgeous view from Wild Lubanzi.

They have some animals at Wild Lubanzi, and they're pretty much allowed the run of the place. Two big dogs, five cats, four geese, and all of the local cows, sheep, pigs, and goats that wander through the property. 

Obviously all of these animals need to poop, and we don't have a problem with that. And farm animal poop is not too bad, but dog poop and goose poop is a problem. So we're sitting outside enjoying the view, but six feet away from our bench is a mound of dog crap from one of the big dogs. And Ruth thinks she can smell it. So I go inside and I talk to one of the guys working there.

"Who do I see to get a big pile of dog crap cleaned up?" And I explain the problem.

"Oh, that's a good question", the guy says. "We have never cleaned up any dog crap since we opened the doors. I suggest you pick up the the bench and move it over a few yards."

Hmm. 

And it wasn't only that. The dogs themselves have that real doggy smell and they've got fleas. And the geese are literally mean and there's goose poop everywhere. And the five cats are allowed all over the interior of the small lodge. Good thing we love animals, but this was a little much. Oh well, we're only there for two days!

16 comments:

  1. doesnt sound as accomodating as the other places you have stayed..... heat and poop not appetizing then add fleas...no thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wouldn't take much to just pick up the dog poop around the lodge itself because really other than that it wasn't that bad of a place and the dogs were friendly and didn't jump up at you.

      Delete
  2. Oh boy. "Good thing we love animals." We'll see how long that lasts.
    Mind the fleas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob, we will always love animals, especially me!

      Delete
  3. A wee but if hygene goes a long way! Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, it wouldn't take much to make a few improvements. Despite that, we did enjoy ourselves.

      Delete
  4. "Move the bench..." Not the best customer service to be had, and I agree with everyone else about those fleas. Yuck. On the other hand, as you pointed out the views are spectacular. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin laughed when he heard this response, not what we would have said being "campground managers" but it was just a young guy that made the response and they mostly get young people who are more laid back so I guess maybe they don't get many people complaining about it or if they do, they just don't care.

      It definitely was a beautiful area and that sure went a long way to make up for the few things we weren't thrilled about.

      Delete
  5. Somehow beautiful views and unique experiences just don't make up for the poop and fleas and everything else for me. I've always said I would have made a lousy pioneer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I guess when you go to some of these places you have to expect that you're not going to get the Hilton, not that that was what we were expecting but as I mentioned above, it wouldn't take much to make it better.

      Delete
  6. Into every life some dog poop must fall... :cO

    ReplyDelete
  7. Holy crap (no pun intended) that sounds awful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well the dog crap was but the scenery was amazing!

      Delete
  8. Oh wow, I only just saw this blog post. Well, we're terribly sorry about the dog poo, and whoever gave you the answer to move the bench was an idiot. Yes, we do get a lot of young volunteers working here and with that little dog poo situation you were literally just unlucky. Sad to see how one such small thing can taint a whole experience, and totally put off all those people reading your blog - they now think Wild Lubanzi is a dirty, stinky, flea-infested place run by careless hippies, which is very far from the truth. If you are not animal friendly, then you should definitely not come here. Most people love it to find a cat sleeping on their bed, and I warn everyone to close their doors and windows if they do not want cats in their room. The dogs are not allowed in any of the guest rooms or the kitchen, they are only around the open common area, and they are very well behaved. Generally I agree that there is always room for improvement, every day. I also know that we can't always make everyone happy. Different people have different opinions and different needs. One might find that car ride you described uncomfortable and not 100% ideal, and someone else might find it adventurous and exciting.
    That said, again, we're really sorry about the dog poo incident.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for replying. As you can see we did enjoy our time at Lubanzi, we loved the people and the scenery in the area and the fact that it is a small lodge. We are adventuresome and pretty easy going people (not high maintenance) and animal friendly but we do feel there should be a few standards set in place. Mainly the dog/goose poop which should be picked up within close proximity to the lodge. Yes, the dogs were friendly but the geese certainly weren't! We ourselves didn't have a problem but they did make us wary of them. One of the other girls though had them attacking her, that it got to the point she that was afraid to go out in the yard because of them. The cats should not be allowed on the table or in the kitchen. As we said there is room for improvement. We loved being with a small group of like minded people and had a great time socializing with everyone. We also love the fact that you have to put away anything electronic at meal time and spend the time talking with your fellow travellers.

      BTW, we were a bit uncomfortable in the jeep only because we were squished in tight but other than than we had no problem, going in we knew the roads would be rough and we were prepared for that, it just meant taking our time which gave us lots of opportunity to enjoy the views. :-)

      Delete

We love hearing from you! Please take the time to leave a comment...