Going on safari in South Africa is still the most incredible thing we have ever done in our travel adventures. We’ve seen a lot of cool stuff around the world & as Baby Boomers, a safari was definitely top of our bucket list. If you have been considering going on safari, then you really must move it to the top of your list. Rome will be there later and no matter what the history, it pales by comparison. To fuel your fire I wanted to share some of our safari photos that will leave you wanting more. In that case, you will have to go get them yourself.
A Dream Safari
Literally on the very last morning of our safari, with just a few hours before we headed for home, we had the most incredible experience of our lives. We had heard from others of a six-week-old lion cub, but so far we had not seen it. Then on this rainy morning, as we were driving down a grass and shrub lined road, someone yelled, THERE!
Barely visible in the wet grass was a streak of gold. Our guide stopped the truck, backed up and slowly approached through the tall grass and there in front of us, was this beautiful lioness and her brand new son. The rush was incredible yet your heart just melted at the same time. We sat watching in breathless silence as she tenderly nurtured her son.
Our safari would have been the best ever & we would have gone home completely satisfied having seen just that. But our encounter was far from over. We spent an hour watching not only the female & her cub but two male lions, brothers, one certainly the father of this little one.
Oh if you could have only heard the squeals of excitement in our heads as mom & her baby got up and began moving. But again, things got even better when she turned at about 20 feet away and walked with her cub directly toward our open sided, roofless truck. Me watching through the lens of my camera, trying to breathe, remain calm and keep shooting pictures.
They kept approaching until they more than filled the image of my camera lens. Finally stopping no more than 3 feet from our open truck on the left where I was sitting in the front, the lowest seat, next to our driver/guide. My knees were about the level of mom’s head. Our guide advised us to not move as she stopped, looked at us, slowly turning to walk the length of the truck, looking at each of us sitting on the outside edge.
They walked by, stopping just slightly behind us on the road. Our guide moved the truck down the road slightly, turned around as we watched the two interact with each other for another 45 mins or so.
The two males lazily laid in the grass watching over the family. Little concern, yawning from time to time. You may be thinking as, believe me, we were…..how much danger were we in? Our guide explained that these lions although wild had all grown up seeing these trucks from time to time. The trucks are much bigger than they are. As long as we were inside of the truck, to the lions, we were the truck. Now if we had gotten out, it would have been a completely different story.
Our guide did not carry a weapon on him, however, there was a rifle. The rifle was in its case on the other side of the windshield. Trust me when I tell you that as I was snapping these unforgettable images of her, I was also thinking, how fast can he get that rifle out if she decides she wants to have a closer look at me. But all was fine, she was curious. Or maybe it was time to introduce this big thing to her new son. Whatever her reason for approaching, all was not just fine, it was insane, awe-inspiring, literally breathe taking and beautiful at the same time.
Another of the Big 5 is the rhino. We were fortunate enough to come across this threesome. White rhinos aren’t white at all and are endangered. Mom kept a close proximity to her baby and enough distance from the male in the background who would certainly kill the baby if it meant that he could mate with mom.
This mating pair of leopards is so rare that our guide had never actually seen it himself. The pair would continue the passive/aggressive ritual for 24-48 hours. Tenderly playing, rolling around in the grass, then snarling and biting, then repeat about every 5 mins.
Mom had a cub about 1-year old that she had left in a tree. Others had seen the cub. There was a hungry hyena who was hoping the cub might venture away from his perch high in the tree. Thankfully it appeared as if he had paid attention to the instruction of his mom.
Even though we were there in December and for us, that is winter, in South Africa, it was mating season for elephants and the males can be quite grumpy. This bull was enormous and standing about 15-20 feet away in the brush. Our guide had had an encounter the night before with him. Having heard some banging around outside his cabin, he flung open the door in order to scare away what was probably a monkey. To his surprise, this male was standing right outside his door, scratching his head on the eves of his porch.
All throughout our safari expedition, we saw trees snapped in half or completely uprooted. Just an elephant looking for something to do. Our guide just backed up and closed the door, hoping this behemoth would move on without tearing his little porch off.
Water bison are also part of the Big 5. We saw quite a few herds of them. This was a smaller herd, lazily relaxing, chewing on their cuds.
Zebras were kind of hard to find, but on our last morning after having spent that amazing time with the lions we came across these beautiful creatures near our camp.
Giraffes are quite plentiful. This one wandered down the road so close to our truck at one point, like 2 feet away that with my zoom all I could see through my camera was his beautiful spotted hide. He was huge and so beautiful.
Kudu, this beautiful male was very large and surprised us as we were slowing traveling down a road. I think we surprised him too. He came up a hill out of the heavy brush just as we approached. He wasn’t concerned for the most part. These animals are unafraid and are protected from man inside of Kruger National Park.
The Sabi Sands area has a river that runs right through it. The lifeblood of the savannah. Without that, we may not have seen these hippos. The river is in quite close proximity to Kirkman’s Kamp. Hippos are actually the animals that they have the greatest concern about. Whenever we left our cabins to go to the main house we called to be accompanied. The reason, not that we might encounter a lion or leopard, but that we might run into a hippo that had wandered up on to the camp property.
One evening when stopping for cocktails and horderves while out on safari a large hyena was hanging around in the shadows around our group. He may have been the same one watching the leopard cub in the tree. Later we found the family den, where this little pup, siblings, and mom were soaking up the warmth of the sun. A face so ugly it’s adorable.
Gazelle are so plentiful, they’re like mice. Boy, are they pretty though. They run like the wind and can jump almost straight up and hit the ground running or right up into another bounce.
If you enjoyed some of our safari photos, hope you will go make your own memories. For an excellent safari camp, look up the Kirkman’s Kamp on the Sabi Sands. They were just awesome!