Let me summarise my past week in one blog and one phrase: the mighty mighty Sabi Sands.
If you thought, you have seen it all and you have had great safari experiences in this country,but you have never been to Sabi Sands – let me tell you: you have experienced nothing.
We started off in the North of the greater Kruger area and visited Garonga Safari Lodge. Basically our starter prior the main course.
Apart from the excellent kitchen here at this lodge, we made friends with hyena babys, saw lazy lions who just finished their meal which apparently was a giraffe and stalked a pack of wild dogs which was happily running past a Giraffe and into the sunrise – i was only missing my Lion King background soundtrack that day.
We were looking for elephants for quite some time the following morning and couldnt find them. We soon realised why: they were at the lodge. Breakfast was therefore served with view over a whole family of elephants and i managed to be on african time that morning because i couldnt get out of my room as an elephant came by to say ho apparently.
As we made our way to the mighty Sabi Sands game reserve via a very bumpy road we made already plans what to put on to our safari bucket list for the following days. And oh boy, we werent disappointed by the end of our time there.
Our first guide was an absolute legend apparently. I had no idea who he was until somebody old me that he actually published a book and is about to publish the second one. He has been on the reserve for over 22 years and that basically said it all already.
We saw the big 5 in a single game drive. He managed to track down everything the bush has to offer in less than 3 hours and even though i did fear for my life at times (for instance when we were outside our vehicle to have sundowners and two hyenas came to say hi an grab a G&T as well) i can not emphasize enough that i literally had the time of my life.
The Sabi Sands area is the dream come true of every kid and every environmentalist in this world. There is such a high density of wildlife that you literally only have to step outside or drive 20min before you see a buck or anything bigger. We saw 4 of the Big 5 on our way out today! I mean what are the chances anywhere else in this country?
The problem is: every kid or rich environmentalist knows this. Thus all lodges in this area are constantly fully booked or ridiculously expensive so that the normal person either cant afford to go or would have to plan the trip two years in advance.
Anyway. if you always dreamed to see all the african animals live and in colour without any barriers in between you and them – do it! Save, plan – just find a way to visit this incredible reserve.
I think my highlight certainly was the leopard sighting. I never ever saw a leopard in my life before – not even in a zoo. You can imagine the level of excitement i went through when i heard the word „ingwe“ – leopard on the bush radio. Normally the guides speak a different language to english when communicating and chatting about what to see and where, so they dont overexcite the clients or – you know – surprise them. However, certain terms are always the same and they couldnt fool us.
We literally tracked the leopard down. By this i meant that our tracker first found trails on the road, WALKED a bit into the bush to see if he was there and we then drove into the bush and followed the tracks until we found the leopard. Incredible. I would have probably recognised the paws in the sand but these guys also recognise by seeing the paw in the sand if it is a female or male, what time he walked past there and if he is on the run or rather relaxed. Ours was on a mission – and so were we.
We didnt just drive into the bush with our landrover. No we basically were the bush. For the following 1.5 hours we drove right through everything and up and down everything. At one point i thought we gonna fall over and down the ridiculously steep hill we slowly drove up and i had to remove basically half a tree from my seat and my clothes several times but we madr it. the leopard was a big fat slightly grumpy and very tired kitty on the search for a nice sleeping spot. He did not count us in so he seemed a bit restless at times.
Meanwhile, i sat on my seat in the back corner of the vehicle and couldnt believe my luck. With the tree and bush still in my hair and clothes, i looked like the stereotype American in the Lion Park in Johannesburg. Mobile phone in the one hand, camera in the other and as excited as a 8 year old on christmas. My first leopard ever!! As it turned darker i was forced to put way my stiff and actually just enjoyed the leopard. Him and me we had a second. We had this moment where his sleepy eyes caught my eyes and we both just knew that it was meant to be. While he couldnt share my excitement about seeing me (and didnt take any pictures of me either) i was in wildlife heaven and never wanted to leave.
The kitty eventually found a way to get rid of us and so we were eventually forced to move on.
We found a cheetah lady the following day who was busy hunting a buck – unfortunately with no luck. She looked much more agile than the fat kitty the previous evening but still grumpy as hell. I guess this is just the normal attitude of them?
Anyway. Day made. Or even year made. Not only because of the leopard but also because of everything else running around in this reserve.
Without a doubt.
Please do yourself a favor and out this on to your life bucket list.