South Africa

South African Safari


If you ask my kids what was their absolute most favorite trip we have done across the seven continents, they have a clear first choice:  The African safari.  After a wonderful visit to Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope we did a day on safari in Botswana and five days on safari at two different lodges just outside Krueger National Park in South Africa.   Each lodge has two game drives a day, typically from 6 to 9 am and from 4 to 7 pm.   In the winter (July) it is dark at the beginning of the morning run and at the end of the evening run, providing an opportunity to see the distinctive Southern Cross in the brilliant night sky as well as to see some of the more nocturnal animals.  After ten game drives, I said to my teenage daughters:  “Tomorrow to get home we have to be in airports and airplanes for 26 hours.  You can either sleep in until 9 am or get up at 5:30am to do an eleventh game run.”  They got up for the game drive!

Seeing animals literally five feet away from an open Land Rover is at first very scary, but with experience, very exhilarating.  The animals have become accustomed to the shape of the Land Rover and they have learned not to treat it as an adversary.  But the guide told us very explicitly NOT to stand up suddenly as this could be seen as a threat by the animals.  On the front left hood of the 9 passenger Land Rover is a seat for a tracker (the jeep is British style with driver on the right – see picture) who does a superb job of finding animals in the bush.  At one point we saw an elephant walking about 50 feet in front of us.  He came ambling directly toward us and then started to jog.  When he got to the Land Rover, the tracker came over the windshield into the front seat as the elephant’s left ear brushed my daughter’s jacket.  That got our attention!  We saw lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, hippos, giraffes, wildebeests, and zebras, all at very close range.  At one of our lodges they escorted us with a rifle from the dining area the 50 yards back to our cabin after dinner because the scream of the monkeys told them there was a cheetah in the area.  Doing game drives with knowledgeable guides in the African bush is a terrific way to get up close and personal with the animal kingdom.