South Africa – animals, animals and more animals!!

It’s hard to describe how much wildlife you actually on a safari.  You see some or all of the big 5 – Elephants, lions, cape buffalo, rhinos & if you’re extremely lucky, a leopard.  But there are so many other animals to see too.  Besides the Zebra, Cheetahs & Giraffes, there are critters everywhere!!

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Those of us that grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, remember the Impala.  Above is a shot of one eating and one running.  So sleek and beautiful!!

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There are a lot of antelope like critters there.  Above is a male Kudu and below is the Nyala.  The female is reddish brown and the male is darker and shaggy but keeps the reddish brown legs.  There are others of every size that I didn’t manage good enough pictures of.

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One of the fun things about South Africa is you never know what you’re going to see and where.  When we were driving to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, we saw Ostrich and Baboons.  It’s a little surreal.  One minute you’re just looking at the beauty of the ocean and then, here are these animals you’ve only seen on National Geographic!

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South Africa was a real treat for me!!  I loved the scenery & the animals.  You can’t go wrong with this place, there is something for everyone and it will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime – guaranteed!!

 

 

South Africa – So many animals, so little time!!

On my recent trip to South Africa, one of the most impressive things was the sheer variety of animals you see!  We saw our first giraffes right off the freeway!!  You don’t see that in the states.  As an animal lover, I was enthralled with all of the animals we saw!

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One of the highlights of the trip for me was seeing both kinds of rhinos.  The black rhino is very rare and you don’t see many of them.  I was pretty proud of myself because I spotted it.  All those years of spotting game while hunting in Idaho, I guess!!  Below is the best picture I could get of him because of the brush.

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Needless to say, it was pretty exciting.  At this point, we had seen lions, elephants and a black rhino.  Then we found the cape buffalo and had a fleeting glimpse of a white rhino.  That was 4 of the big 5!!  Below are a couple of shots of the buffalo.

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We actually had to wait until we were in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park before we got photos of the white rhinos.  They were quite cooperative!  It is really a thrill to see such a majestic animal and so sad to think that both the black and white rhinos are severely threatened from poaching just to take their horn!!  What is wrong with people?  I felt blessed to get an opportunity to see them in the wild!!

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Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is a 96000 hectare (over 237,000 acres) protected preserve in Zululand and is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa.  What a great place to visit!!

South African Safari – Lions & Elephants & Cheetahs, oh my!

I recently spend some time in South Africa to learn about it as a travel destination.  We went sightseeing in Capetown and diving at Aliwal Shoal & Rocktail Bay but for me, the highlight of the trip was the different Safari trips we went on.  From a diehard diver, that says a lot!!  Our first stop for a safari was the Thanda Private Game Reserve near Hluhluwe in Zululand.  I can’t tell you how much this place impressed me.  The staff was very friendly and accommodating, our safari driver & spotter were very knowledgeable and good at finding critters and the whole experience was just incredible!!

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Our first encounter happened when we were getting a tour of the Thanda Main Lodge.  We were all travel professionals on an educational tour to experience South Africa so we can market it as a destination.  As we were walking back to the main building, we were told the elephants were coming and directed to a covered verandah.  Here came a whole herd of elephants.  The pics above are of the huge herd bull who was currently in musk and that made him very unpredictable and potentially dangerous.  We stayed back against the wall but were literally about 15 feet from these elephants.

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This part of South Africa has had a serious drought and the elephants sometimes come to get water from the ponds here.  We were extremely lucky because it’s not a predictable behavior.  After the big bull left, more came including a mom with a tiny new baby.  Even though it was our first encounter, it was a highlight of the trip for everyone.  We were sooooo lucky to see them like this!!

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On our evening safari, we were fortunate enough to come upon 3 lions.  A lioness and her two young adult children (one female & one male).  We were very close & they pretty much ignored us.  We were told to stay inside the vehicle and not stand up.  If you do, it separates you from the herd in their mind &, well, you don’t want to be separated from the herd with a mama lioness watching you!!  It was pretty exciting to see these majestic animals in the wild.

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The following day, we met the dad.  Above top is the young male from the night safari and below is the dominant male for all of Thanda’s lions.  There are two prides and he spreads his time between the two.  He travels constantly so he was pretty thin. They said he would be better to stay with one pride because the lioness’s are the best hunters and providers.  He was so beautiful!!  Thanda is a private game reserve that is 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres) so it is big enough for the animals to be able to live, hunt & die free and small enough so you have a real chance of seeing the big 5.  We saw 4, but no leopard.  The big 5 are – Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo.  You see much more than just those 5.  I will be posting more in separate posts.  One more highlight for a Thanda safari is the “bush bar”.  After the evening safari, on the way back to your lodge, they stop to watch the sunset if it’s clear or just for fun if it’s cloudy.

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They open up the back and set up the bar!!  You have wine, beer, mixed drinks, soda, etc.  I must admit, I really enjoyed that very nice glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc in the bush of South Africa!  Even though our weather was cold, it was such a very nice touch…