From lions, to rhinos, giraffes and cute little baby animals, the South Africa safari has everything!!
In December, I went on a tour with Chan Brothers Travel, and they brought us to a private game lodge outside of Johannesburg called Mabula Lodge. We stayed there for a night, and did 2 game drives in total, one in early in the day and one in the evening. The game drives are usually early in the morning or right before sunset because that is when the animals are the most active and they are out chilling, grazing, etc.
Safari is one crazy interesting experience, but its not as animal filled and lion king like as it seems. Here's the truth.
Being able to see as much as you want on a safari game drive depends on so many factors, here are some truths to the whole experience.
The park is MASSIVE. And you never know where the animals are.
Going on the evening drive, we saw way more animals than in the morning drive the next day. Also, there are tons of Kudus, Elands, Monkeys, Warthogs, Wildebeests and Zebras you can spot - as they move in herds, but when it comes to the Big 5s (elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalo) it really depends on your luck.
The 2nd morning, we drove for about an hour without seeing any animals, it felt like we were driving for ages and then, we spotted a lion!
We got up so close to a male lion just lying in the middle of the road, whilst another vehicle, saw 3 female lions but they were far away in the bushes.
These baby animals are BEYOND CUTE! Seeing the animals graze and run freely is one of the most refreshing experiences i've had!
2 // You Can't Interfere with the Animals
I get the questions "Can you touch them?" quite a lot. I never expected to be able to touch wild animals, so, no. You don't touch the animals in the wild. They are WILD. The vehicles aren't suppose to go too near to them either (you might scare the animals). The whole environment is maintained such that this animals are able to live, hunt, and graze freely without the interference of human forces. It's their world and we're just visiting.
3 // The Rangers MEMORISE the Park and Communicate With Each Other
There were a total of 6-7 vehicles driving around the park, and there aren't any signs/directions at all. If a big 5 was sighted, the ranger would inform other rangers and leave so as to give others could see the animals (not a case where you have 5 cars around an animal). The park ranger I was with saw an elephant, turned off the engine, let us take pictures, before informing the others and then driving away to direct them to where the last sighting was.
Unfortunately, one of the rangers spotted a leopard but somehow scared it away, and so the rest of us lost that opportunity to see an african leopard.
Watch an elephant walk towards us this video!
4 // It depends on how skilled your ranger is
Our ranger could spot the rhinos from the other end of the plain and she drove to a spot so we could and get an extremely close up view of the rhinos without disturbing them! When she first said "look over there, rhinos!" I was just like "wait what?! where??" It takes so much skill to spot the animals through the trees and shrubs - which makes sense because thats how they camouflage.
Having a skilled ranger depends on your luck (point 1) but the native africans and older rangers are usually the ones with more experience!
Even though its not animals left, right, and centre everywhere you go, the safari drives were so much fun, i'd do them again and again. If anyone is considering a trip to South Africa, GO ON A SAFARI DRIVE!
The drives can at times be slightly disappointing, especially when you don't see much for over an hour. But, when you get to see a glimpse of a lion, rhino or any animal up close, ah, IT IS SO SO SO WORTH IT. My mum loved the experience so much, she said she wanted to be a south african safari ranger, she was hilarious!