Our First Safari in the Evening

Limpopo Travel Blog

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Day 5 - SAFARI

We had an appointment with Joan for her expert guidance.  She got us on a night safari that night.  She had to make some calls and actually had to cajole the safari staff to get us seats.  Additionally, she got us on an early morning safari also.  Talk about maximizing time here.  Anyway, off we went for about an hour drive to the Thornybush Game Reserve, www.thornybush.co.za,  adjacent to Kruger National Park.  The last 8 km of the ride was over washboard roads.  Now that woke us up.  Anyway, we got there and the whole operation was very organized.  Mount up and receive our instructions.  Maintain the shape of the vehicle by not standing up or sticking your hands or arms out.  Some animals get scared and run away and some get aggressive and, well, use your imagination.  The .475 caliber rifle didn't help the imagination.  Seriously, the rifle remained empty and in the case and off we went.

Now, there were "roads" of a type.  Actually potholes interspersed by a stretch of sand here and there broken up by rocks.  Ok, so we stay on the road, right?  Wrong and how wrong we were.  When the guide saw something, and how they saw it was beyond us, off they went cross country.

We saw some kudu, numerous smaller "predator snacks", wildebeests, birds and monkeys.  All of a sudden here was a herd of elephants of all sizes.  They were taking a mud bath.  The matriarch was ever watchful though.  There were several younger elephants playing and we sat and watched for a long while.  Mind you, they were around 10 yards away.  Off we go again.

Next on the list were buffalo, the second of the Big Five.  They were across the road and not in any hurry to move.  They were so close I had to use the wide angle lens to get one in the frame. 

Amongst the buffalo was something looking a bit different.  Change lenses to telephoto and this was a big difference.  It was gray and had a horn sticking up.  white rhino.  If you are counting, that makes three of the Big Five and all within a couple of hours.  The rhino moved along with the herd, grazing and passing within a few feet of the vehicle.

The highlight of the safari was a mother cheetah and her three cubs.  The cubs were about 6 months old.  They had just made a fresh kill and mom was lying there watching the kids chow down.  As kids are these ate and played.  Played and ate and when they got tired the just fell where they were.  We were no more than 10 feet from them.  We could hear them purring.  What more can we ask for?

The guide stopped the vehicle at a major intersection, all sand, no potholes, and we watched the sun set over the Drakensburg Mountains.  We've read and seen photos of the African sunset but none could describe the beauty.  The sky went from orange through red to violet to deep blue.  We just went silent and watched natures display.
Off we went again.  The tracker, sitting on the left front fender, had a large light he kept shining through the bush.  We're wondering how he could see anything but all of a sudden two bright spots of lights, eyeballs.  He called back that it was zebras, kudus, wildebeests etc.  That was amazing. 

We finally got back to the entrance and got out of the vehicle.  Talk about excited. "Did you see that?"  "Wasn't that cool?"  Now that was what we came for.

Now for the long trip home, sleep, and get up around 4 AM for the morning safari...
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