Almost time for safari!

Having had a great few days staying in the Greater Kruger region today was the day we moved to our home for the next seven days in Sabi Sand reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park.

We were collected from our Manor House accommodation just outside Hoedspruit at midday and introduced to some of the other photographers who would be joining us on our safari adventure. Our mode of transport was a small minibus with no air conditioning, affectionately referred to as “the pressure cooker” by one of our fellow passengers! By the end of the journey I thought this was a pretty accurate description! The journey took about two hours on very bumpy roads; I don’t think I’ll ever complain about the roads at home again! To be fair, our friendly driver said that the roads are normally better but due to the recent heavy rains they’ve been badly affected and washed away in places with some of the puddles the size of animal watering holes!

At about 14.30 we arrived at our lodge with the anticipation of what was to come.

Wildlife rehab visit

Today we decided to visit a local wildlife rehabilitation centre. The tour started with a fascinating talk from one of the team, which covered the history of wildlife in South Africa and the changes to the environment over time. It also highlighted the impact of humans and the interaction between us and animals; showing the story from both sides which is something we don’t always think about.

Next on the tour was an introduction to one of the resident cheetah, which are so elegant looking. This was an opportunity to get up close as well as take photos before being shown around all of the different animals and birds. These included hyena, honey badger, wild dogs, lion and leopard as well as eagles, vultures and other raptors.

As expected, as soon as a volunteer was required to feed the vultures, David was first in the queue! They weigh approximately 10kg, which I thought was a bit heavy for my arm!

Our first 24 hours in the bush

After 32 hours, one train journey, three flights and a car ride we finally arrived at our first lodge just outside the Kruger National Park.  I especially liked to see that the luggage delivery system and baggage reclaim method was still the same at Hoedspruit airport!

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We were warmly welcomed with a glass of sherry and a tour of the extensive accommodation before being shown to our room. A quick change into something cooler (it’s over 30 degrees here) and we decided to go and enjoy a drink and the very impressive view from the deck.

Dinner in our lodge is a very social affair with a long communal table headed by one of the rangers. Although, I have to say we weren’t expecting this guest at dinner! It’s a South African bush baby, one of the smallest members of the primate family.


Once everybody was seated (not the bush baby!) the chef came to the table and explained the menu for the evening. I think David’s highlight was the springbok carpaccio! 

After a lovely meal and good company, I was pleased it was finally time for bed!

Five things we love about safari

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1. You don’t have to see anything to see everything

You get up at 5am, have coffee and expectantly jump in the truck. The sun is just coming up, it’s almost silent, nothing about. You drive for 5 minutes maybe 15 or even 30 – there’s no animals. It’s then you realise that your mind is clear, you’re surrounded by fresh air and can breathe freely and can ‘see’ everything!

2. Anticipation

There is nothing like the anticipation you get from being in a safari truck, driving through the bush waiting for what you’ll see next. You turn a corner…an elephant herd or a giraffe behind that tree or lion in the road.

Once your head clears from your pre-safari existence and you’re aware of your surroundings, you spot animals remarkably well – sometimes before the tracker!

3. Sharing time with stunning animals

It’s an absolute privilege to spend time with wild animals in their natural habitat, doing what they do. For us it’s a safari; relaxing and enjoyable; for them it’s daily life, and death. Watching a leopard stalk prey, being in the middle of an elephant herd in a dry river bed or just seeing a rhino grazing through the bush is almost indescribable. We’ll share our top safari moments in future posts.

4. Game rangers & trackers

During our safaris, we’ve been guided by 5 pairs of rangers and trackers – these guys (and girls too, although not on our trucks) just totally make the experience. Their knowledge is astounding – not just about the animals but also the plants, habitat and not forgetting their ability to know exactly how to get everywhere, without a map or any road (well dirt-track) signs!

5. Making new friends

Last but not least, we always meet great people on our safari trips. A beer and a laugh at the end of the day around the fire in the boma near the braai (bar-b-q).