Another day, another safari. You would think the planned nature of the safari drives would mean that the whole experiences lend itself to a certain amount of predictability but au contraire.
The very nature of the subjects in question – wild animals, means that no one safari day is ever the same as another.
There’s always something new to see here and especially seeing as we hadn’t seen the complete big 5 yet, we got up bright and early (at 5 am) on this very day, looking forward to ticking a few more off our list!
Starting off with some safari favourites, the red-billed hornbills (hiding in a tree) – not sure what they are? Think Zazu from The Lion King…
…followed by a rather skittish giraffe (a sight we’d started to get used to).
…swiftly followed by a baby giraffe!
Turns out it was a mother and baby who had very little patience for strange sounds and ran off into the distance! 🙂
The animals went about their own business paying very little heed to us (unless of course if they needed to cross the road)…
Suddenly our van stopped and our ranger started talking animatedly in (I think) Afrikaans. We all started rubbernecking in an attempt to get a sense of what was going on before our ranger pointed at bushes and whispered loudly “Leopard”.
“That’s it!” I thought. “The final of the big 5!” (We’d already seen Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo and Lions) and according to our ranger, the Leopard would be the most elusive one of the Big 5 to spot as they’re more likely to be hidden…
Except, I couldn’t see what in the world she was talking about! Despite this, I took a photo – see if you can spot it in the photo below.
There were two things I realised at the point.
1.) Despite the fact that I’d always reckoned the camouflage sometimes looks nothing like the environment (it’s not like the trees have spots like leopards), the camouflaging possessed by the animals here well and truly works!
2.) It pays to be in a Private Game Reserve (like we did at the Kapama) as you can go off-road here in search of a better view of the animals once spotted – which we did with the leopard.
Suddenly, it became a lot more visible, skulking in the distance.
It soon noticed that it had an audience and decided to move along – but not before giving us a perfect view of how amazing it was.
This experience has me buzzing (or perhaps that was from of the tree branches that smacked me in the face when we went off-road).
Either way, it was one of the most thrilling experiences we had on safari! Like seriously, it was as close to the jeep as it looks in the photos.
By the time we drove off, I’d managed to take what seemed like millions of photos of the leopard.
We bumped into the occasional giraffe as we carried on but the giraffe could have been a goat or sheep for all I cared at this point – we’d just seen the elusive leopard and ticked off the safari big 5! 🙂
The only thing that would have made the list more complete would have been sighting a cheetah but not only were these even more elusive, there were only two available here (one male and one female). There’s a cheetah breeding project here (hence the male and female) but the lions keep killing off the cheetah cubs.
Cheetahs also have very light bones and slender builds which, while great for speed, means that they shy away from confrontation in fear of getting hurt which will dramatically hinder the cheetah’s ability to feed itself.
In any case, our ranger hadn’t spotted cheetahs for months…
We spotted more zebras and zazu’s as we went on (those birds rarely ever stood still long enough to take a photo).
Then again, in another huge flurry of action – our jeep sped up with our ranger talking excitedly on the phone!
I was still buzzing from the leopard that I was half-paying attention but half hoping they’d spotted some more lions.
Turns out – a female cheetah had been spotted by another group! I almost couldn’t believe it! 🙂 There it was – right in front of us.
As we drove towards it, it let out a loud hiss which our ranger told us meant that we’d started to encroach on its comfort zone so we stopped and parked to experience this magnificent wild cat!
Lots of selfies were also taken at this stage to send to everyone back at home in the UK – most of which are still on my phone. (I’ll post it in the comments if you’re interested! Hehe! 🙂 )
With the cheetah sighting (and a random sighting of a jackal in the distance), we felt like we’d had quite the productive morning and headed back to the resort for breakfast, swiftly followed by an afternoon at the spa!
Like I mentioned before, the spa has a brilliant view of the river, where you get to see the animals pop by for a drink and a dip.
Today the hippos and some nyala had decided to indulge in a little natural spa treatment of their own. 🙂
I headed off for my long massage while Georgia and Lloyd opted for just 1 hour massages in favour of watching the animals by the watering hole.
I’m not even ashamed to admit it at this point, I fell asleep about half way into my massage. I’m not even sure if massage enthusiasts would call that a waste of a massage or the best way to make the most of the massage.
Either ways, I felt refreshed by the time I popped out to the spa pool to join Lloyd and Georgia.
Turns out, the watering hole was turning quite popular. A giraffe had just been (I’d been too lazy to reach for my camera), and a zebra had just ambled along for a drink…
…swiftly followed by 3 more.
We spent the rest of the after until lunch just splashing about in the pool with little breaks for naps (and mandatory cocktails).
All the while enjoying the glorious nature surrounding us.
After lunch, a splash in our private pool (had to drop that one in) and the pre-safari tea time, we headed out again.
I decided to try on my safari hat I’d bought in Johannesburg which is a terrible idea as it blocks everyone’s camera if they turn around – I had many complaints from Lloyd and Georgia which serve as proof plus I kept knocking it off my head when I tried to use my camera. Also, it gets quite hot underneath that hat in the sun!
That being said, it eliminated the need to use sunglasses (though I apparently insisted on using them regardless).
We randomly spotted another jackal again. I was ready with my camera this time – well, that and the fact that it was also closer.
We came across another big 5 favourite, the rhinos.
Two of which were not getting along!
They very quickly put aside their differences though.
Our ranger later informed us that it was a male trying to get it on with a female who wasn’t having any of it.
The herd of rhinos stopped for a little bit, giving us much wanted photo time and the opportunity to start to notice silly little details.
Like how tiny their ankles are relative to their sizes… and how pre-historic they look (if you saw one in a book of dinosaurs growing up, you wouldn’t have questioned it if you didn’t know any better). 🙂
Every so often, our tracker, would step out of the vehicle in search for clues as to where different animals where. (Till date, I still have no idea what the clues were or what animals he was looking for). 🙂
We make out way through the game reserve at a leisurely pace till we saw some rumbling in the trees, unsure what it was, we stopped for a bit, joined by another jeep…
…turns out, it was an elephant in the thicket!
We’d had a new couple join our group on the second day who were excited as with the elephants, this would mean they’d also seen the big 5 now (they missed the elephants from the first day).
The elephant here though paid us no attention whatsoever and carried on it’s business of munching through leaves.
Sundowners soon followed, after which we set off on the night safari.
We hadn’t seen much at night (bar a few random animals) and so I didn’t expect to see anything again on this night.
As we drove on, our ranger made a sharp stop and somehow, in the darkness, our tracker had managed to spot a leopard again! (Turns out this was a different leopard as this was a male one and the one we saw earlier was female).
Two leopard sightings in one day felt pretty amazing and quite a big safari accomplishment! 🙂
Also, we’ve been told that cats are nocturnal animals but all the cats we’d seen so far here seemed to be asleep at night. What gives? 🙂
Our night safari ended on that note and so, with another successful leopard spotting. We headed back to the resort for some much-needed dinner and copious amounts of South African wine while watching people dance the night away around the fire!