Safari in South Africa
Last week I brought you the story of Skigh and Jabu, the two men who made up the eyes and the mouth of my recent safari trip in South Africa. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, I would love for to check it out here and learn a bit more about the experience.
I wanted to write about these guys last week because the people you are with on safari are so important. It’s not just about being able to find animals out in the wild, but also having guides who can explain what the behaviour of the animals means, what the important plants in the area are, and what is being done in terms of conservation.
But I know that you’ve also been wanting to see some photos from the time on safari. The Bongani Mountain Lodge is in the Mthetomusha Game Reserve on the edge of Kruger National Park and it’s slightly unusual. It doesn’t have the vast sweeping savannahs that you might typically think of with an African safari. As the name suggests, the area is quite mountainous. This brings some different challenges to finding the animals – but it also makes for some spectacular scenery. I had heard people talk about the African sun before – but only now that I’ve seen these sunrises and sunsets, can I truly understand.
I went on four safari expeditions in total – two morning and two evening ones. These shots are a collection from all of those little trips. Let me take you through each of these photos and explain how they fit into the experience.
Sadly it is becoming harder and harder to spot rhinos when you are on safari in Africa. The numbers are decreasing because of illegal poaching and some game reserves are going to extreme measures to protect them. I was lucky that I spotted these two quite early on during the first safari trip. The mother and child were just walking along a track, minding their own business. They are big animals and kind of waddle when they walk.
I was really looking forward to seeing giraffes and we did find a group of them one morning but they were hidden amongst some trees so I didn’t get a good look at them. It’s lucky they’re so tall so their heads were popping out through a break in the leaves. This is pretty much the best view I got of them!
Sunset on the first night – spectacular, isn’t it? It’s not just about the vibrant colours that you get in the sky at this time of day, but the way the mountains roll on to the horizon. I stood here for ages watching the sun go down in the distance.
All through the reserve are lots of nyalas and kudus. I have to admit that I have trouble telling the females apart. As you can see from the photos here, they look quite similar. Do you know which is which?
It’s a bit easier to tell the difference between the male kudu and nyala. I find the horns are the giveaway because they have quite distinctive shapes. This is a nyala (I hope) because the horns are straight, as opposed to corkscrew-shaped.
Now, I know you can recognise this animal easily. The king of the jungle – and one of the big five of safari in South Africa. Now, I’m going to admit, that I cheated a bit in spotting the lions. When I was at the reserve, they were introducing some new lions to the area because they had been captured outside the protected area and were going to be killed if they couldn’t be relocated. So these ones were in a large – but fenced off – area in the park while they became accustomed to their new home. They were due to be released the next week but they were much easier to spot when I was there because we knew what part of the reserve they were in.
This is sunset on the second night of my stay – from a rocky outcrop a long way from the lodge. Again, the colours were so rich but there was a different view from here. High up on the rocks, you could see out over much more of the land around where the animals were prowling.
It’s not just the large animals you need to look out for on safari in South Africa. There is some beautiful birdlife as well and they fly so close to you. I managed to get a few shots of some birds sitting on trees when we stopped in the vehicle. Don’t ask me what they are exactly, though.
Another of the big five – the South African Water Buffalo. They move in large groups and don’t seem too worried about the safari vehicles coming near to them. They can be incredibly dangerous, though, and I don’t think I would like to be near those horns if they got angry. In some ways, the water buffalo are easy to find because you can smell them from a long way away!
My favourite animal from the safari trips was definitely the African elephant. I just love the grace that such large animals seem to have. This group of elephants had a baby with them and they were clearly looking after it. When there was some noise from the bushes, all the adults stopped eating and gathered around the little one to protect it.
I did not expect to see a squirrel on safari in South Africa – but there you go. There’s one. Just like Hyde Park.
And finally, there’s this photo from the very early morning. It was such a peaceful spot and I just loved the orange glow and the reflections of the little pools of water. It’s not just about the animals – these scenic spots are as stunning and rewarding as the big five.
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Time Travel Turtle was a guest of South African Tourism but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.