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FOOD FOR THE SOUL
By Mike Pope, September (2010) edition of bazaar
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South Africa
South Africa
 

 

After a hot summer in the desert of Kuwait it was a real relief to disembark at OR Tambo International in Johannesburg, South Africa and suck in some cold, dust-free air at 1700m above sea level.

Many people are unaware that South Africa also provides safari experiences on par with what is offered in Kenya and Tanzania. Granted, they do not have the vistas and big numbers of animals of the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, but that aside, your quality of game viewing is certainly on par if not better.

Sabi Sand, the oldest private reserve with many private lodges is on the western boundary, now forms part of the world renowned Greater Kruger National Park. With its immense wildlife gene pool, stretched over two million hectares of pristine bush, it has become one of Africa’s premier wildlife and safari destinations. This private reserve is the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism and is dedicated to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and biodiversity, supported by eco tourism.

We all know about the Big 5, but many don’t know that they originated from the old pioneering days of hunting and were known as the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.

This July we headed back to Kirkmans Kamp to enjoy 4-days of solitude and bliss in the African bush during winter... The package includes sumptuous accommodation, meals, your own ranger and tracker with a 4 x 4 that ensure you have optimum game viewing opportunities.

I guess the only way to paint a picture is to talk you through a typical day on safari at Kirkmans...

A knock on your door at 6am ensures that you wake in time and are ready for early morning coffee and biscuits as the African sun starts peeping over the horizon. July is winter and for the early morning game drives, winter clothing is a must, as it gets colder than you can imagine at times. However, day time temperatures are much more comfortable. By 6:30am the vehicles head out in different direction searching for game. Rangers are in contact with each other by radio, so sightings are shared. One of the biggest advantages with private reserves is that there are only ever two vehicles at each sighting and 4x4’s are allowed to follow the game into the bush and this guarantees face sightings which generally gets the heart beating a little faster for the uninitiated.

Each drive is different and priority is given to what should be looked for first, but once a sighting is found you can stay with it for some time. On our drives we had the lion, leopard and rhino so close to our vehicles we could have leaned out and touched them. Elephants are kept a little further away, but sometimes there are mock charges if the herd has some young.

Around mid- morning you break for coffee and snacks in a safe place where you can quietly enjoy the bush. After the coffee break it would be a slow drive back to the lodge where you would discard the winter gear and reconvene for brunch on the terrace of the lodge. On our last morning, our butler had arranged a full breakfast buffet on the banks of the Sabi River, with a bemused Hippo watching us.

The rest of the day is yours to relax at the lodge; sitting at the pool or having a siesta. The more adventurous could request a guided game walk into the bush with a ranger.

All too soon, you meet again for coffee before departing on the evening drive to track and look for game. We also stop to look at antelope like Waterbuck, Kudu, Giraffe, Duiker and Impala and enjoy some of the amazing and colourful birds that are typical of the Lowveld bush. On one afternoon drive, we follow a young male leopard staking his territory, hunting unsuccessfully and having a stand-off with a lone Hyena. On another we watched a male lion tentatively trying to retrieve a dead Waterbuck from the middle of a small pan.

Once the sun starts’ dipping into the horizon the ranger finds a safe spot to stop for sundowners and snacks to soak up the sounds and smells of the bush. At dusk it’s a slow drive back to the lodge with the tracker using a spotlight to find nocturnal animals - we found a Honey Badger and a White-tailed Mongoose as well as a Leopard on one of the drives.

At the lodge you are escorted to your room to freshen up for dinner before you call for an escort from your room back to the lodge. There are no fences around the lodge, so game is free to roam through the lodge grounds. Guests meet in the bar to swap stories of the days experiences before enjoying dinner on the terrace or around a fire in the boma.

At 6am, Knock, knock...and so begins another day.

So, the next time you feel that you are in need of some soul food or to simply recharge your batteries, consider a safari in one of South Africa’s prestigious lodges in the Sabi Sands Reserve – you will not be disappointed.

 
 
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Sabi Sand
Posted By: Ant on 2010-09-01 00:15:50
I was fortunate to experience a similar trip a few months back in the Sabi Sand Reserve. I cannot imagin a better bush experience than this.
 
 
 
 
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