I love nature trips. Even the city slicker that I am won’t miss the opportunity to head out. I’ve been on many trips but never quite make it on an organised Safari trip. So this time around, we booked two trips one at night and another in the morning. The weather was chilly on both but the action was hot enough. I was very happy that we managed to spot the big five on this trip but I’ve been told to lower my expectations on my next Safari trip.
We’re sitting in a safari truck on a chilly evening. The engine and lights have been turned off, the sun has set and we’re engulfed in darkness and an eerie silence. We are waiting for the buffalo. Earlier in the evening, while doing his rounds, our guide spotted a herd of buffalo in this general area and suggested we head back there and see what we could find. This is the second time we have stopped and experienced this feeling of freaked out anticipation.
We are alerted to the sound of drums beating in the distance. We listen carefully as the drums beat grow louder and closer. The ground begins to vibrate in tune with the drums and the trees leaves shake as a crescendo of sound storms passed out truck. Our guide then blasts his spotlight into the trees and we watch in excitement as the buffalo beat their way through the wilderness. And we that, we tick off number five on our Big Five Safari list.
Sadly, we didn’t get any good photos due to the lighting but boy did these beauties put up a show. As we followed them down the road, they suddenly started running back in the opposite direction. That’s when we saw the red eyes in the darkness (which was incredibly creepy) and the chase began. We watched and listed in awe as the roaring lions tried to catch dinner. We watched and rooted from buffalo that slipped and fell almost to their death. As the buffalo changed direction, free and clear of danger, we saw 3 very tired, very confused and slightly injured male lions. I know the female usually does the hunting – Stay in your lane guys, stay in your lane.
I’m apparently not the best person to take on Safari because even with my glasses on, all I see is grass. So, our plan of ‘you drive I’ll be on the lookout’ turned out to be a bit of a fail. Like when we spotted (well others spotted) a leopard lazing about in his tree.
A couple of cars had stopped on the side of the road, an indicator that something interesting is lurking around. We stopped behind a car, whose driver was standing through his sunroof topless (an indicator that there were also stupid people lurking around), and looked out. A man in a passing car whispered “it’s in the tree.” I looked and looked but couldn’t make out anything, other than the tree. To be fair to myself, we were in our car and so didn’t really have the height that makes it easier. Steve handed me the binoculars which were largely unhelpful.
At this point, I seriously thought I was being punked. Finally, he handed me the camera with a photo of a tree…I zoomed in and viola…a leopard. When I looked back at the tree, there it lay, much to my delayed excitement.
I love elephants. Probably since the first time I saw the cartoon “Nellie the Elephant” (and got the theme song stuck in my head) as a little girl. So, each time I see elephants on a trip, my day is already made. Like Nellie, the elephant calves we saw were incredibly bouncy with an extraordinary amount of energy.
Meanwhile, the adults seemed quite over the day. Actually reminded me of my nephews on a Sunday night, when we just can’t seem to tone their energy down!
Around the waterhole
This turned out to be one of my favourite trips. It’s not too far from home and sitting around the waterhole was calming, beautiful and full of activity. Meanwhile, the Manyane Resort where we stayed has pool, restaurant and activities. It made for a good, restful weekend getaway.