They arrived on the wings of the four winds, so to speak, some from Namibia, some from Zimbabwe, some from Cape Town and others directly from Oz the previous day. All congregating with the singular purpose of enjoying Destinations Africa’s annual Savanna Plus wildlife safari. Not alone were all but three of the participants experienced Africafiles, they also had the privilege of visiting Savanna before – some almost as often as John & I. So the reunion was a bit like a homecoming!
To divert momentarily – before the formation of Destinations Africa both John & I worked in compliance – which, to say the least, was a very thankless occupation with customers motivated to shoot the messenger rather than the legislators or regulator!
Instead of implementing required constraints, Destinations Africa is in the privileged position of helping to create unforgettable memories during the course of holidays of a lifetime! So rather than wanting to shoot the intermediary, customers tend to become friends. Thus it was with great delight we caught up with our friends at our favourite wildlife safari lodge for an extended five-night stay.
With all participants either native born or long-since acclimatised Aussies, everyone was on the same page, speaking more or less the same language (whatever their origin), all anxiously awaiting the surprises this wildlife safari would deliver.
Surprises we didn’t expect were cloudy June days with what John called “guti” (drizzle). So instead of following their normal routines, most of the wildlife stayed tucked up in their beds throughout a much cooler than normal day! Thus we had poor game viewing for a couple of days – locating little with a heartbeat – even the birds deserted us – a rather unique experience in the Sabi Sands. Just as well we were scheduled to have an extended five night stay!
But as the sun’s warming rays burned off the cloud cover and started to thaw out man and beast, the wildlife began to come out of hiding! Even a few lions put in a cameo appearance from their current retreat in the north of the reserve. Although they generally provide pretty boring viewing (given the long hours they sleep) a lion-free wildlife safari would seem rather incomplete!
After a slow start we had some delightful game viewing including:
- An amorous rhino bull making valiant efforts to woo a female who continued to play hard-to-get
- A den of energetic, inquisitive hyena pups. While the parents are not the most attractive creatures in the world, the pups (like all babies) are very cute and their antics very entertaining.
- Hunting wild dog (also called painted dogs) who eventually made and demolished a kill. Wild dogs are one of Africa’s most efficient and effective carnivores and offer very exciting game viewing indeed!
- Hippos rendered even more cranky than usual by the drought affected waterholes
- A 1 000 strong herd of buffalo, which Dan had trouble finding until he realised that it would be easier to locate the herd rather than his fellow ranger.
- Elephants on every drive – breeding herds with babies, lone bulls and even male coalitions – all eternally on the move and so offering very engaging viewing
- Several different leopards, thankfully all left alive since we managed to avoid driving over Kashane!
So all in all, even though the weather did us no favours the Sabi Sands did not let us down and yet again delivered another fun, fascinating and memorable safari!