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Published: March 9th 2015
Ok, this is not Addo or Kruger or any of the wild natural spaces where animals roam.
Plettenberg Bay game reserve provides a definitely controlled element to the spaces where the lions, cheetahs and wild dogs roam. This is because the reserve is small, just 2,200 Ha and there are dairy farms close by. Bad idea to mix lions and cows. For the cows that is. Also there are imported species with some of the animals being indigenous and some are importations from other African countries.
Having said that, if you want to be sure that you WILL see a huge variety of wild life living in open plains, within 2.5 hours on a guided drive.... This place is for you. Even with free roaming Addo under my belt, this place worked magic. Even without elephants or the chance of a leopard sighting, it still held a lot of interest. It was a different type of experience, not a wilderness but it's far from being a zoo either. Visitors are not allowed to self-drive and must go with the reserve's guide in their vehicle. That may be why the place was remarkably empty. Just us 4 and a family
of 2 adults and 2 children. Having seen some of the crazy nonsense that certain drivers at Addo were doing (I.e coming out of their cars to pose for photos with the animals) I was happy to have the reserve's roads clear of traffic and free of idiots.
So, with sightings assured we set off on the game drive. Initially it was difficult for me to understand the guide, an older gentleman, due to his thick accent but soon I got the hang of his speech. Actually just on the short drive up from the main road to the reception desk, we saw loads of wild animal species! Including 4 white rhinos who don't scare easily (unlike the Addo black rhino) and 3 giraffes just ambling along the roadside!
The guide knows exactly where to expect to find the numerous species and he did find them as expected. He knew where the giraffes gather to feed and there they were. He knew where the rhinos would be and there they were. He checked the waterholes where the hippos normally wallow and we just managed to spot one pair of nostrils poking up from the
Three of the species are kept within very large fenced areas ('fenced' in South Africa means electrically wired fencing!). The Pair of lions, the pair of cheetahs and the four wild dogs. They are not hyenas or jackals, but furry looking creatures with black faces, big ears with large stripes in black and cream around their bodies.
All of these three sets of enclosures are next to each other. All have an electrified double gate system .... the guide opens the outer gate, drives in to the middle enclosure then opens the inner entrance gate to the animals range. When he approached the inner gate to the lions den he was very careful to look around, behind, and in front since the lions could be anywhere near the gates. They were NOT. We drove around a while before he finally found them lying inside the far fence. Looking very sleepy and unimpressed with our presence. The cheetahs on the other hand were right in front of the fence so we didn't even have to look. One walked off as we were approaching, the other rolled over and looked away. And that's the view we had.
Same with the wild dogs, they were right there, in yuh face by the entrance. Looking up at us suspiciously from the shade of a tree.
I learned one thing as we drove through the open plains with the free roaming herds.... zebras are not suitable as beasts of burden as their spines are too weak. So no one is interested in capturing them, except the lions I guess. The herd animals mingled so freely it often looked like a scene from the Garden of Eden. The most captivating were the little springboks who literally spring on their toes on all fours, bouncing forward, when they move around.
Take a look at the photos
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