Ah safaris, these can possibly be one of the most memorable and magical experiences one could have, especially in South Africa. Whether you are in an open game vehicle, or a car, or even a walking Safari, you are still guaranteed to have a wonderful time. This tour is meant for all different types of people, by this we mean animal lovers, bird enthusiasts and bird watchers. No matter what you and your group are interested in seeing, we’ll find it.
Safaris are about being out in the serenity of nature and just being able to watch these majestic animals roam around in their natural habitats. Sometimes it can be a good thing to get away from the big city, and there is no better way to do it than taking a safari and just experiencing nature in its purest form.
So now let us get into this blog and try to convince you to take a safari.
Our home for the next seven days was inside the lovely Mjejane Game Reserve. Mjejane Game Reserve is situated on the banks of the Crocodile River and borders the Kruger National Park, which means that it is part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Mjejane is located between the Crocodile Bridge Entrance and the Malalane Gate of the Kruger National Park, it is also the only game reserve with its own bridge into the Kruger, how awesome is that.
The Kruger National Park features a variety of animals which include The Big Five. You are almost guaranteed to see animals such as Zebra, Elephants, Giraffe and many different species of buck. The most common animal that you will find here (and in most game reserves within South Africa) is Impala, which we like to call, Mc Donald’s… and no, they do not have an Impala themed burger here. We call them that because there are so many of them and they also have an “M” type mark on their butts.
Animals such as porcupines, cheetahs and Hyenas are more elusive than most but that does not mean you will not get lucky and spot a couple of them. Thanks to radios inside all game vehicle’s and the great communication between the game drivers we are friends with, it makes it a lot easier for us to find these types of animals.
Don’t get your knickers in a knot Christian, there are plenty of birds for you to see, these may include Ground Hornbills, King Fishers, Vultures and Fish Eagles. The Kruger is full of different species of birds, they come in all different colours, shapes and sizes. The Kruger is basically a bird watchers paradise.
Okay, now for the insects. These may be a lot harder to spot due to them being so small, but hey, it’s not impossible. Almost every game driver has eagle eye vision, they will spot things that no ordinary person will see, and it’s pretty amazing if you ask me. The insects you may encounter include dragonflies, spiders and crickets. When you stop at a campsite it also gives you a chance to take a good look around and see what you can find.
You are probably thinking that we are done now right? Not exactly. Now we are going to talk about the water based animals. Around most dams and rivers you will most likely encounter crocodiles along with hippos, at the same time you will find many birds in the area as well as some animals quenching their thirst with a nice drink of water. So for waterholes, since they are usually small, most times there will be no hippos or crocodiles scaring the other animals away, so these are great observation spots to watch animals such as buffalos, zebras and also lions having a quick drink… and if you’re lucky, you may get to watch one of the animals have a swim. Another aquatic animal you may encounter are turpins, these can usually be found in any body of water.
The more endangered animals such as Rhinos are not talked about over the radios or in person, they are also not marked on the notice boards anymore due to poaching… but hey, you never know, you may be the luckiest person ever and see 20 rhinos in one day.
Now with that being said, safaris are like a “right place, right time” kind of situation, you are not always guaranteed to see the animal you want, but this does not mean you will not see what you are looking for… but do not fear, 9 out of 10 times you will encounter the big five along with various other animals and birds such as eagles, snakes and a diverse range of buck.
Nothing relaxes me like a good old safari, just being out in nature is something I thrive for all the time, whether it be scuba diving or hiking… but safaris are where I feel most a peace. Watching animals just being themselves and getting to experience the circle of life, that to me is a day well spent. Something I personally love about being in the outdoors is the people I am with, and for this trip, it was just that.
Something that really tickles my fancy is stargazing… and oh my, stargazing in the Kruger is a must. The light pollution is very little which makes it an ideal spot to stargaze or even do some night photography. Just being there and looking up at the starts while being surround by pure nature is a feeling I think everyone needs to feel at least once in their life time.
The game drives for me were absolutely stunning. On our very first game drive that week, we were lucky enough to watch a pride of lions which were made up of about 6 lionesses and 10 cubs feasting on a buffalo. As you can probably imagine, not a lot of people get to experience a sighting like this. We were also lucky enough to witness a herd of elephants chase those very same lion the next day.
Something I really enjoyed about this trip was the sunsets. People say the way to a man’s heart is threw his stomach, well for me it’s a good old sunrise or sunset. My friend Nicole and I would watch the sunset every day for those seven days, and I think that would be one of my favourite memories from this entire trip.
I’ve been on many safaris all over South Africa but I really paid attention to detail this time. Each animal acts differently in the presence of vehicles/people, for example, animals like Lions, Buffalos and Cheetahs are not fazed by our presence while Impala, Giraffe and Wildebeest will try and get a couple of meters away from the vehicle/people, and finally hippos and elephants are very curious about us and try to get up close and personal.
One of my favourite moments on this trip was when a herd of elephants cam right up the fence where our lodge and decided that they were going to join us for breakfast. Being able to stand so close to these gentle giants was an amazing experience for me since I used to be really afraid of the, it was kind of like a growing point for me.
Being around like minded people really enhanced my trip, I really enjoyed the continuous conversations such as photography, animals and horse riding. I wouldn’t have changed anything about this fantastic adventure.
Thank you for reading this blog and we hope that you enjoyed it and learned something from it at the same time.
Photos by – Nicole Frankenhauser and Patrick Richardson
Written by – Patrick Richardson