Friday, 9 May 2014

Safari, Shamwari, South Africa (part one) - "don't base your expectations on The Lion King"

The main reason for holidaying in South Africa has to be to come on safari! It was totally the Boy’s choice, and in all honesty, I am not even the biggest animal fan, but the whole trip to South Africa was a travel adventure not to be missed so I was keen to have this as our honeymoon destination.

So, to finish off South Africa, we had three days of safari time, which means 6 game drives.

seriously close to this beautiful beast

blending in with the wildlife! 

How would I sum up the safari….
…totally epic!!!

There are not many times I am quiet but this has to be one of those rare times. Safari took my breath away. And not just seeing the animals but the scenery, sunsets and the experience of staying in such a great resort was all spectacular.

how gorgeous is this cheetah!

Now my only issue with going on safari was that I got most of my ‘research’ from the likes of watching The Lion King and Madagascar (both great films) which means that I thought it would be flat, dry and beige grassland, going out in shorts and t-shirt (binoculars and safari hat optional) and that there would be loads of hyenas around which I hate (the ones in The Lion King try to kill Simba!) 

this is kind of like the beginning
scene of The Lion King, yea?

Funnily enough though, if you base your knowledge on kid’s films, you are going to get it wrong. Very wrong.

First of all, this was not the Serengeti which meant the land was a combination of rolling hills, flat planes, thick bush, dry grassland and everything in between!!!

pasts of the land was thick and dense

Secondly, you safari at dawn and dusk, not the blazing midday sun (of course, if it is hot enough for you to go out in shorts and t-shirt then it will be too hot for the animals). Plus the fact the jeep is open and goes at quite a speed means a wind will chill you. This was autumn for the southern hemisphere. I would advise taking a proper coat, gloves and some kind of hat.

Thirdly whilst there were (brown) hyenas there, they are nocturnal so there was no chance of seeing them really.

Obviously the main reason to go to safari is for the animals, and what most people want to see is fondly called the “big 5”…lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. We were lucky enough to see them all but the leopard but there was only one on the reserve we were at so chances were slim to none. But we did get to see two cheetahs who in my opinion are more marvellous a creature. We were lucky enough to see it start to chase down their lunch (although this time it missed) and a few hours we saw it again neatly munching on its kill.

we saw a baby one that had just been born,
 umbilical cord still hanging out!

One of the things that make the whole experience so mesmerising is that you are there, in the wild, with the animals. This is real life. Not some simulated pretending at the zoo.

This is their natural habitat and seeing the interact with each other was incredible - We got to see a lion and two lionesses hunt, a herd of rhino’s grazing (a herd is suitably called a crash of rhinos) and a pair of male springboks (a type of antelope deer thing) lock horns and ruck.

I was most amazed though by the elephants we saw. Firstly we couldn’t see them until we turned this one corner into a thick bush area and to think that these massive animals are so well hidden is outstanding. Being no more than just a couple of meters from one of them, we sat there for ages watching her feed. Using her trunk and foot, she effortlessly upturned a tree to eat the roots, using her trunk to pull and huge foot to break the roots.

we were lucky enough to see a whole family

It was like that with all the animals really -  you were so bloody close you just wanted to reach a cheeky hand out the jeep  and touch one! Not one time was it scary even though at any time these powerful beasts would have the power to have us.  

Our guide, Jacque, was a superstar when it came to tracking the animals and that actually became part of the fun. This ain’t a zoo. You don’t know where they are hiding in the 25 hectors of natural camouflage. On our last drive he actually touched some rhino poop to confirm his suspicions that this was fresh and the rhino was close. He was ninja at spotting them a mile off too. He was pointing out things that I quite confidently was assuming was a rock or tree – turns out it would be a rhino or elephant.

To be continued….

X x X 

read part one of Cape Town here
read part two of Cape Town here

read about our  amazing hotel in Camps Bay here
read about the winelands here
read about the  fun with ostriches here
read about Plettenberg Bay here

read about my horrendous bungee jump here

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