Published: June 27th 2012June 22nd 2012
Impala are quite numerous and often seen in large groups like this.
We were up early to shower and grab breakfast before heading to the airport. Another guide from Rhino Tripping arrived right on time for the short drive to the airport. We had a nice chat with him about the history and current political challenges of South Africa. It has been very educational to hear some of the many emphatic but different views on these issues during our short stay in Cape Town. The commonalities as well as the differences in points-of-view provide a deeper view into the complexities of these issues than could be easily obtained from home. Check-in for our South African Air flight to Kruger went smoothly and we were on our way. During the flight we worked on our travel journal, with Andrew stepping in to write the section on the cheetah encounter. Upon arrival at Kruger/Nelspruit airport, we stopped for a photo of this tiny international airport with its thatched roof. After collecting our luggage we were met by Jan who took us on our two hour drive over rough roads, some paved and some not, to reach Londolozi. Upon arrival we were immediately greeted by our hosts and escorted to our rooms. It was mid afternoon
First big animal
This attractive giraffe was the first big animal we saw. No denying it - we are in Africa.
and time for a quick lunch (which they call “high tea”) before heading out on our first safari. We did our best to get organized with our cold weather attire and headed up to enjoy a wonderful buffet on a deck overlooking wild countryside. After lunch we headed down to the land rover to meet Alfred and Bennett, our guide and tracker, and then we were off. Despite seating for nine in the Land Rover, it was just our family for the drive. At a pond just beyond the lodge we stopped to look at some hippos (mostly submerged and difficult to see), but this was only the beginning. As we drove around in the late afternoon, we were soon looking at impala, wildebeest, and giraffes, often in large groups. We stopped to watch them move slowly along their way, completely unconcerned with our jeep. Further along we came upon two lionesses and followed them for a while. We stopped and watched them cross in front of us and then out of the brush emerged the male, slowly bringing up the rear. We observed for a bit and then followed further behind them as they met up with two other
Lauren & Giraffe
This was our first serious wildlife sighting. We were all quite excited and this was only the beginning.
lionesses from the pride. They seemed genuinely excited to see each other. We stayed for a long time with other land rovers also coming in to check out the scene. Alfred recounted in great detail the rise and fall of the last few lion dynasties in the area. After we had enjoyed the lions for a bit and watched some play as well as some mating behaviors, we drove off and Alfred and Bennett stopped the jeep for “sundowners.” We got to stretch our legs while they made cocktails for the adults, soft drinks for the kids and laid out some snacks. As the sun set, the stars started to come out and we had a chance to see the night sky in the southern hemisphere. We got ourselves oriented by locating the Southern Cross and Alfred pointed out Scorpio as well as some other highlights of the sky. It was pretty dark by the time we were done and we all assumed that we would simply drive back to camp for dinner. But as we drove back, Bennett searched with a spotlight. Before long we came upon a hippo, just a few yards from the jeep. They come out
As we followed the female lions, this male emerged from the brush.
of the water at night to graze – Alfred joked that they are too ugly to come out during daylight. A bit further down he spotted a mongoose and then a male lion, sitting under a tree. Alfred and Bennett are quite familiar with the local lions and immediately recognized this one as the (meaner) brother of the male we had seen earlier. Amazingly, the animals seem completely unperturbed by having a spotlight shone on them. A bit further down we found an enormous owl, perched in a tree. Completely overwhelmed with what we had seen in just one drive we returned to camp. We returned to find the driveway beautifully lit by lanterns. Hotel staff were waiting to escort us back to our rooms. At night they don’t want the guests walking the grounds unescorted because they can’t keep the animals off the grounds. As we walked back to our room we asked our escort what he would do to protect us if he encountered a dangerous animal and without pause he said that he would run. We took a brief break before dinner and then were escorted back to the outdoor dining area. The entire area was lit
We followed two of the lionesses and witnessed a reunion with another two. The other Land rover watching from the other side gives you an idea of how close we were.
by lanterns and candles and a few guests were seated around a fire pit. We were warmly greeted and offered cocktails and then mingled a bit with the other guests before dinner. Dinner was served buffet style and was full of gourmet choices that sounded (and were!) absolutely delicious. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and then retired to our room to get some sleep before the early morning game drive.
There are more photos below