African Safari blog

Memorable African Safaris: Savanna Plus PART 2


The whole contingent of 19 Savanna Plus participants regroup for more food at 3 in the afternoon, all in high spirits. The chef has excelled himself by producing some raditional South African dishes like bobotie (my personal favourite) and melktert (which thankfully is one of the few deserts I can resist!) Satiated again, we disperse to the three waiting 4×4 WDs. The respective guides need to quell the exuberance momentarily to deliver a briefing designed to keep us all safe in this natural, untamed world from which we have been divorced for far too long.

Although the animals in the reserve have become acclimatised to the vehicles, they are still wild & untamed. Thus we are advised to take precautions like avoiding loud noises and particularly standing up in the vehicle. We are also urged to keep our arms inside the 4×4 WD and to watch out for tree branches.

Primed with relevant information, we set off on our first game drive! Not long after leaving the manicured lawns of the lodge behind, the radio flares up with either news of what’s around or enquiries in that regard from other guides in the traversing area.

Our first sighting on our luxury african safari tour is of a male cheetah with a very full stomach. This is a relatively rare treat as it is not the most ideal cheetah country. Like his relatives the lions and leopards, the cheetah’s pale blond undercarriage is designed to dissipate the heat from the ground. This is why lions midday slumbers are often spent in the shade with feet in the air, dissipating as much heat as possible!

In providing us with all this interesting information the guide shows us that he is taking seriously his three-pronged role, to keep guests safe, to educate and to entertain.

We leave the beautiful cheetah hiding from the afternoon heat and direct our attention to a couple of zebra that are grazing away quietly. Standing in opposite directions they can cover the visual field (with other’s eyes at the back of their heads) as well as a tail to swat the flies from each other! Not so stupid!

Not long after we leave the zebra, we come across an elephant mother and her two year old calf. Elephants are such absorbing creatures – their constant activity is so engaging as they are reputed to spend about 17 hours per day eating – either munching grass or leaves or debarking bush branches, rolling them along their mouth from one side to the other where they emerge bald! Elephants also dig for roots, minerals or even water in the dry season. They enjoy swimming and playing around in the water as well as taking mud baths, or dusting themselves off with sand or soil to keep insects at bay and protect themselves from the sun. However it is the silence with which they move that captivates me, simply disappearing into the bush on their enormous seemingly slippered feet!

The elephant calves are of course the most entertaining of all, full of cheek charging the vehicle but rightening only themselves and running back to Mum for safety.

Disengaging from the elephants we find Dewane, a beautiful male leopard walking along the road, his raised tail indicating to the nearby snorting impala that they are not on his agenda (at least at the moment.) We follow him for a while as he strolls along, dangerously close to the territory of the area’s second male leopard, Kashane!

We finish our drive in the company of one of the four male Majingilane coalition who appears to be rousing himself from slumber and trying to locate his brothers with a few volcanic roars. Our hopes for some action are dashed as he, deciding it is all too much effort, slouches back into slumber – which is our signal to head back to camp.

Our tracker splits the darkness with his spotlight. Originally wondering how he could hope to pick up anything with the speed at which he moves the light around, now I realise he is searching for reflections in the eyes of night creatures – like the little pookie we have just spotted. Also called night ape, they are the cutest little creatures with eye almost half as big as their heads! Everyone wants to take one home as a pet!

We are welcomed back to camp with a tray of warm, moist facecloths to wipe off the dust of the bush before retiring to our rooms to pretty ourselves up for dinner!


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Memorable African Safaris - Savanna Plus Part 3 - Elephants, Rhinos and Hippos