Last May Nancy flew to South Africa to check out wildlife safaris firsthand. Here’s her take on it:
“Safari” is defined as: A trip on land for the purpose of viewing animals. Viewing, photographing, and experiencing animals in their natural habitats makes up the modern safari. It is a Swahili word meaning any place where animals in their true habitats can be observed. [Check out Nancy’s lovely photos in our Gallery.]
What does that really mean? Based on my experience at a Leopard Hills lodge ( in a private reserve) and Lion Sands Tinga lodge (in a concession inside Kruger National Park) that means:
0600 – woken by either a knock on my door (Leopard Hills Lodge, because that is gentler than a phone call) or a phone call. Freshen up, grab gear (coat, camera, binocs, hat, etc), call security
0630 – escorted by security through the dark to the main area for a quick cup of teo or coffee before heading out on morning safari just after 0630. I consider a second cup of coffee but remember bush bathroom’s design
0630 – 0930 + – game drive to find animals, birds, trees, flowers, reptiles. Rangers & trackers truly know the land and the animals. Pre-sunrise I use the blanket provided. A drink and nibble stop about half way through the drive.
0930- + – back at the lodge for breakfast. The rest of the morning is at leisure. If you would like a bush walk adventure, let the staff and your ranger know, and they will try to accommodate you. Relaxing on your desk or in your private plunge pool, a massage at the spa, or watching life go by – all possible.
1230 – lunch is served, usually outside on a terrace or deck unless weather isn’t good. These tend to overlook the river or a water hole. A saw a croc on a sand bar at Lion Sands. Monkey stole toast out of our hands at Leopard Hills.
1530 – gather for afternoon tea before heading out on the afternoon safari. Sundowner drinks around sunset and time for star gazing.
1900 – return to the lodge with some time to fresh up and have a pre-dinner drink at the bar
1930- sit down to dinner. Unless it is BOMA night! That means dining under the stars away from the main lodge. Tables with white linen, crystal, china, positioned around a central fire pit; all within a semi- or walled- circle.
2130 + – off to bed so you can repeat this fabulous itinerary tomorrow.
For safety, guides accompany guests after dusk and before dawn, since there are no fences at either of the lodges I stayed at.
Every moment of game drives is amazing and intimate. My highlights include: giraffe fighting, baby elephant challenging our vehicle before Momma catches him, eye contact with a leopard next to the wheel below my seat, a bush walk, a leopard lazing in a tree, indifferent hyena walking in the road at and around our jeep, all things impala!
Call Willamette Intl Travel to arrange your South African adventure today!