There were two Radiologists, one GP, and 2 UK professors (one GP and the other O&G). While this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke – these were my travel companions for our recent 3-week week African safari. The entire experience was absolutely outstanding!
Our three safaris included Thornybush Reserve, linked to Kruger National Park in South Africa, and then Chobe National Park and the Khwai Concession adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta.
July and August are the African winter months, which are dry, no mozzies, and very few creepy crawlies! While we had to rug up for the morning safaris, the layers were peeled off as the morning progressed.
A safari is an absolutely amazing lesson in wildlife. Each of the animals were superbly majestic and elegant in their own way. So many things I had never thought about became a stunning reality. Elephants with their giant size are extremely quiet as they walk – but cause huge devastation to the landscape as they push over trees to get to the leaves. But they are also intelligent! They love Marula berries (used to make Amarula liqueur) so when the berries ripen they shake the tree, not wanting to damage it for next season.
The private reserves (concessions) were superb and certainly offered the best animal viewings. At Thornybush we saw each of the Big Five (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino) within 36 hours of arrival – and all of these were viewed from mere metres away. It continually astounded us how they did not view us as anything at all. There was absolutely nothing other than their lifetime experience (ie we were not a threat and as none had ever eaten a human they do not know that we are food!) to stop them from jumping up and joining us in our vehicles. Very surreal experiences!
Within the private reserves, there are limited vehicles, the vehicles are all very similar in design and colour and they all work together to give visitors the best experience possible. They will drive anywhere they need to, to get the best view possible – and I mean anywhere! We had some very fun offtrack driving occasions which included quite deep water crossings around the Okavango Delta. And because of the large numbers of elephants in the areas, we didn’t need to be concerned if a small tree or two got pushed over in the process. A very good advert for Toyota Landcruisers!
Within the National Parks, however, everyone must keep to the tracks, as there are a lot more vehicles of varying size, shape, colour and experience of drivers!
Our three weeks included a visit to Cape Town with its beautiful waterfront area and coastline and Victoria Falls which is as impressive and fitting as its title as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
An absolutely stunning trip, and while it was expensive (you can tell from my fellow travellers that a certain level of comfort was required) it was one full of incredible experiences that we will remember forever. And now I understand why South Africans miss their sunsets when they come to NZ.