Sunday, August 28, 2022

South Africa: Zebras Crossing Lodge

With a name like "Zebras Crossing Lodge" this place had been on my bucket list for over five years. On Instagram I follow #zebras and this lodge kept coming up. What attracted me to it was that the zebras come up to the pool! It's a private game reserve with only six rooms, and you basically just chill out with zebras. 

Zebras Crossing Lodge was the perfect final stop after an action-packed safari in Botswana. The Chobe Game Lodge guide dropped us off at Kasane airport, where we checked in for our 2:00pm flight to Johannesburg. This airport was insanely small and it seemed as if our flight was the only one departing out of any of the six gates. It was delayed by about 30 minutes and it felt like we were waiting forever. We were so eager to get to Zebras Crossing!

Thankfully the flight was short (under two hours) and when we arrived back into Johannesburg, customs was very quick. After baggage claim, we were greeted by someone who escorted us to our driver. A nice Mercedes was waiting for us and we climbed inside for a two-hour journey to Zebras Crossing. As we drove the sun set and with the darkness I was lucky enough to fall asleep for about 20 minutes. When we arrived at Zebras Crossing Lodge, we couldn't see much of anything in the darkness, but we were taken to our room immediately.

Even though our accommodations at our previous lodges had been incredible, this was by far the nicest room. It was extremely spacious and the bed was huge. Even bigger than a king size bed. Most notably, everything was decorated with zebras! Zebra artwork on the wall, a zebra sink stopper, zebra blankets, a zebra keychain for our key, zebra pillows and more. The bathroom had a walk-out shower and it was so cool to shower outdoors! The water at this lodge came from nearby springs and was perfectly safe for drinking and bathing in. 

After we settled into our room, we went to the main lodge area for dinner. There was a family of three staying at the lodge as well. But they would depart the following morning and we would be the only guests at the lodge for the remainder of our stay. 

They had a table set up for us and the dinner was delicious. I can't even remember what it was anymore, but all the meals at Zebras Crossing were excellent. I looked outside at the pool, but there were no zebras. I asked the other family if they had seen zebras and they said absolutely, the zebras had come up to the lodge. I couldn't wait!

Dinner table Zebras Crossing Lodge

It's really hard to describe the feeling of being at Zebras Crossing lodge. Greg used the word "magical" and I agree with him. Inside of our room and inside of the main lodge, there was a feeling of total peace and relaxation. The main lodge had a wood burning fireplace, which felt amazing with the temperature falling into the 50s in the evening. There were cozy couches and cushions and zebra artwork adorned all the walls. The lights were dim. The lodge was surrounded by nature. It was comforting, welcoming, and unlike any place I had ever visited. I couldn't believe we had finally arrived at the place I had wanted to visit for over five years!

The next morning after breakfast, we went on a bush walk. Zebras Crossing Lodge is situated on a private game reserve. From the photos, I thought maybe that meant 10 acres of land or something. But it was much, much larger than I had expected. This was both a good and a bad thing. Good, because it meant the property was expansive. Bad because it meant the zebras could be anywhere on the property, not just by the pool. The manager told us that the property had 25 zebras in total. We didn't see any zebras on the bush walk, but it was nice to get some exercise. There was really no place to run around the lodge, as I had anticipated.

After the walk, I changed into my zebra swimsuit and sat by the pool waiting patiently for the zebras to arrive. My swimsuit was covered in zebras and I had a matching cover up as well. I waited, waited, and waited. But they never showed up! We ate lunch, we read books, I dipped my legs into the pool. Some ostriches came by, and we could see some impalas. But alas, no zebras. I was disappointed, but because the lodge was so beautiful and relaxing, I was still in a really good mood.

There was supposed to be a zebra in this photo

We ate dinner and even though an entire day had gone by without seeing any zebras, I was still happy to be there. 

The next morning, we had breakfast and took another bush walk. We walked for just over an hour and there were no sign of the zebras anywhere. Actually, the lodge manager could recognize some zebra hoof prints, but he couldn't tell when they were from. After years of following this lodge on Instagram, what a disappointment it would be if we didn't see any zebras!

We waited patiently by the pool again for them, and when they hadn't arrived by 2:30, we decided it was time to go for a drive around the property. The lodge manager took us on a drive and we searched high and low. We even stopped for a snack and a drink at one point as we took in the scenery from a scenic view point. As we headed back to the lodge, we finally found them! There were about 8 of them hanging out near the owner's house. And they definitely did not disappoint!

I was expecting to view them from the vehicle, but the lodge manager told me to get out of the vehicle and approach the zebras. He encouraged me to pet them on their noses, and to stay in front of them (because they will kick you if you are behind them). I walked up to the zebras and most of them didn't seem to want me around. But one pregnant female took an interest in me. And even more so once the owner came by with a carrot for me to feed her with. She did not have a name, so I named her Zella. And the lodge manager said he would send me a WhatsApp message when she had her baby. 




I had so much fun playing with the zebras while trying not to get kicked or bitten! But the sun started to set so it wasn't long before it was time to head back to the lodge. Thankfully we were the only guests at the lodge so the manager was able to accommodate our desire for zebra searching!

For our last night, the lodge staff really went above and beyond to make things special for us. They knew it had been our anniversary, so they put rose pedals, candles, balloons, and champagne in our room, all set up on top of a zebra blanket. It was so beautiful!



I am not sure if the above video will work or not (I have never tried uploading a video to blogger). 

Anyway, our final day of our vacation was filled with zebras and relaxation and love!

The next morning, we packed our bags and got ready to depart. We both wanted to stay longer at Zebras Crossing Lodge, in the hopes that the zebras would come up to the pool. They fed us one final gourmet meal before we departed:


Zebras Crossing Lodge was a truly magical place to relax and connect with nature. As the only two guests, the staff made us feel like royalty and attended to our every need. I loved the zebra decor, the warmth of the fireplace, and the comfort of our room. 

It was a two hour drive back to Johannesburg airport, but it would take us a total of 31 hours to get from Zebras Crossing to our front door! We were rested and prepared for all the travel. 

Getting Home
The trip had been a total success. No illness or injuries or major disruptions. Everything had gone as smoothly as possible. There hadn't been much to buy in the way of souvenirs, so Greg and I tried to find stuff to buy at the airport. Unfortunately, there wasn't much there that we liked so we settled on a magnet. I did, however, buy a bracelet with zebra charms on it from Leroo La Tau. And a t-shirt that said Botswana with an elephant on it.

Of course the best souvenirs are the photos and the videos and the memories. We plan to make a photo album and create prints of the amazing photos Greg took. We have plenty of empty wall space just waiting for safari animals to adorn it!

After browsing the airport shops, Greg and I hung out in one of the business class lounges. The Emirates lounge was closed so we were directed to another lounge. Our flight departed at 2:00 and we landed in Dubai 9 hours later. Our plan was to stay awake on the first flight so we'd be nice and tired for the second flight. The second flight from Dubai to Washington Dulles would be 14 hours. 

In Dubai, we hung out in the business class lounge, which was really nice. I was even able to brush my teeth. The security was pretty intense, though. We had to go through security after stepping off the plane. And then we had to go through security again before stepping onto the next plane. We ate a full meal in the business class lounge so once we were in flight, we could sleep without having to worry about eating. 

Unfortunately, they really want you to eat! They served three separate meals on the flight home. Even though it was a "red-eye" (departing Dubai at 3:00am and arriving at Dulles at 8:00am) - they woke us all up mid-flight to serve lunch. Yes, they called it lunch. Who eats lunch in the middle of the night!? Yes, I was annoyed by this - and I couldn't simply refuse it and sleep because all the lights were on and all the utensils were clinging and clattering. No amount of noise cancellation or eye coverage would drown it all out. So. . . we ended up only sleeping 3 hours on that 14-hour flight. Even though Emirates business class is very nice, if you are considering it, keep in mind that food is prioritized over sleep!

Finally, after 31 hours of travel and 23 hours of flying, we were back home. It felt good to be back, but I definitely miss the zebras and everything that Africa had to offer!



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