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.
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."
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!