After our brilliant first safari, I was understandably excited about the following morning’s safari drive – even if it did mean waking up at 5.00am!

I have to admit, especially after going to bed at around 1am the night before – I did struggle for a minute or two with the wake up call, until I remembered fully what it was like the day before and sprang out of bed, got ready and headed down to the restaurant area for coffee, juices, fruits and pastries (and yes, I had a taste of everything that was on offer).

It’s a funny thing going on these early morning safaris, I’ve never seen a bunch of people more happy to have been woken up so early!

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Within seconds of driving out of the lodge, you see all the animals going about their early morning business… (i.e. eating).

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With some a bit more curious than others…

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Now, so far, we’d seen two of the big 5 (rhinos and elephants) and with 3 more to go, I was so pleased when we happened upon number 3 – the African Cape Buffalo.

I feel like it’s almost important to add this – the big 5 aren’t called so because they’re the only ones of interest on a safari or even because they’re the most fascinating animals to see (they are fascinating but that’s not the point). The Big 5 comes from long ago when people hunted game in Africa and these 5 animals were declared by the hunters as the five most difficult and most dangerous animals in Africa to hunt on foot.

Thankfully, hunting these animals isn’t mainstream practise anymore and poaching is definitely actively countered by the safari lodges and government but ‘the big 5’ term has been adopted by safari lodges due to the perceived difficulty (and added “Wow factor”) in finding these animals.

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As it turns out, the African Cape Buffalo is the widely considered the most dangerous of the big 5! Just by looking at them you wouldn’t think it, right?

Turns out their strength is not just based on their sheer physical energy (and that helmet head),it’s actually due to their herd mentality. These animals stick up for each other and for themselves and will ambush and attack other animals that threaten them. Even lions will think twice before going for these and they’ve been known to seriously injure lions. (In doubt, check out this video that’s been making the rounds on the internet recently).

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Most animals will typically move out of the way when face to face with a car… but not these buffalo!

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This place above is where you can spend a night with a love one looking at the animals do their own thing. This is called the Lion’s den and is apparently a great way to see Lions at night.

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Eventually, we made a stop for morning tea (which I was so grateful for cos I had far too much coffee and needed a pee so much by this point).

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Similar to the sundowner drinks, morning tea is had out in the wilderness and I was initially apprehensive about getting out of the jeep but the ranger assured us it was fine to go for a little wander…

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…and so we did.

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Tea over, we hit the road again, looking to conquer that list of the big 5.

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Random elephant fact: Despite their cuteness, elephants are actually quite destructive animals. Their sheer strength and love for leaves that grow on tree (and tree barks) means that leave a path of destroyed trees everywhere they go. Eating the bark leaves the tree vulnerable to the heat so to reach hard to get leaves, elephants will pull a tree down and uproot the entire tree.

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Alas, we didn’t find any more and so we headed back to the lodge for breakfast (which we almost missed due to our not paying attention to the breakfast times when we checked in) and decided to go check out the spa.

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The spa is actually based in the biggest of the Kapama Lodges, the Kapama River Lodge where we took a detour to check out the lodge area…

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The spa is an oasis of tranquility here and comes with it’s own pool (only for spa guests), several treatment rooms and a great view of the river.

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As I was planning to spend the afternoon catching up on sleep, we made appointments for the next couple of days and decided to stick around River Lodge for a bit longer… well, till we had to return to Kapama Southern Camp (our home here) for lunch.

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As we now all agree, it never too early for cocktails so we got some in and made the most of the pool…

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…where some of “the locals” came by to say hi.

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Sitting on the edge of a pool, by the way, is much harder than it looks….

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… or perhaps those cocktails were finally starting to hit!

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We ended up having so much fun by the pool that I barely had time to nap before it was time for our afternoon/evening safari ride!

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The giraffes here are usually one of in one of two states – skittish…

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…or curious.

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We trawled through the African heat in search of more wildlife wonder to experience…

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…coming across some with an amazingly on point side-eye game.

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After a little while, we came across a clearing…

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…where a little family of rhinos had stopped for a drink by the river. I say ‘family’, it was more a mother and child and some random male vying for her attention.

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As we carried on, we heard our ranger excited speaking to another one on the radio and after a quick drive, we came across number 4 of the big 5 – the African Lion!

This one was without a doubt one I was looking forward to. We’d actually seen one earlier in the morning but it was so far away at the other end of a river that it was hard to see it properly. This one however was in plain sight and gave off a mahooooosive (and rather scary) roar as we ogled at it (turns out, this male was one of the offsprings of the one we saw earlier).

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Thoroughly satisfied with ourselves, we made our way through the plains to the spot for this evening’s sundowners…

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…while making the most of the evening’s sunset!

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Eventually we carried on to the night safari, coming across a young python on the road…

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…and, the most exciting night time find of the lot, a pride of lions right outside the lion’s den I showed you earlier.

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They were all busy snoozing…

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…except this rather playful female who kept trying to wake the others by jumping on them and playfully pawing at them.

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Definitely a brilliant way to end the evening’s drive which left us still buzzing when we showed up for dinner!

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Dinner is always an interesting affair here as everyone recollects their best memories from the days over huge glasses of wine and eating far too much delicious food…

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… which finishes off with a good old fashioned South African boogie from the staff here. 🙂

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  • Wow, what an experience!!!! I can’t believe how close you were able to get to the animals – and the giraffes are SO photogenic!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We did get so close… it felt so unreal at times, as if you couldn’t imagine you’re sat right next to a lion! 🙂

      Oh my! Those giraffes were stunning Rachel. The baby ones were adorable too! 🙂

      xx

  • Beautiful! I loved seeing all the animals and searching for the big 5 when I was in South Africa as well. It was an experience that opened my eyes to how big and diverse the world is!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We were exactly the same! It’s such an eye opening perspective Brittany – you’re so right!

      We loved every second too. It’s such a special place. 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Katya

    Guys, this is absolutely awesome!!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awww, thanks Katya! 🙂

      It was such a wonderful experience. We loved every second! 🙂 So glad you like it too.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Vava

    What a great post! I love the photos, but the ones of you guys at the pool are my favorite!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awwwwww, thanks so much! 🙂

      It really was such a special place. We loved every second! So glad you like it as much as we did 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx