Today had an early start because I was getting picked up to leave on my 7 day tour. The start of our tour had us driving a few hours so we could get on track, and our first stop was at a game drive! There were five of us doing the safari so we had the whole jeep to ourselves. Our guides name was Abri and he was extremely informative along the way. He told me early on that the more questions I asked the better the trip would be. I accepted his challenge and I think it paid off because he was full of knowledge.
The first animals we encountered where a couple of cheetahs that were relaxing in the shade. On the property there were some baby springbok that were just born which in turn meant a nice breakfast for the cheetahs. Abri has been there for 4 years and told us he’s seen several kills while working… unfortunately we didn’t get so lucky haha. We learned all about the history of cheetahs and how messed up their genetics have been due to past inbreeding. He taught us the differences between cheetahs and leopards and explained some of the markings on the fur. Similar to baseball players, cheetahs have black under their eyes to attract the sunlight so it doesn’t bother them while on the hunt. They also have white under their eyes because they are nighttime hunters as well.
Next we saw and learned all about the different antelope. There are several different types like the Kudu, the Springbok, Eland, Impala, and Waterbuck. Out of the five I’ve ate three of them while I’ve been here and can tell you the Impala and Kudu are really great. The Springbok is more like venison. We also learned a bit about zebras and the different birds in the area at this stop. These animals were cool but reminded me a lot of the deer we have back home. The only difference is that these antelope have to worry about cheetahs eating them in the night.
After the antelope we drove down to see some rhinos. There were three of them there and they were as curious to meet us as we were to meet them. They came right up to the jeep and I could have easily touched one if I wanted to. There were two adult and one baby and the baby was very cute. I took a good video of him walking right up to me while I was in the jeep and just looking at as we looked back at him. Apparently many people think there is some medicinal use you can get out of the horn of a rhino so poaching has been a problem. Abri explained to us that this couldn’t be further from the truth and that what the poachers do to the rhinos is brutal. I won’t go into detail how what happens but you can look it up if you’d like.
Following the rhinos we drove just around the bend and encountered a few giraffes. Giraffes are really interesting characters. So tall and so awkward as the ate the crass from the ground. It was so funny to just be driving along and then have to pause because a giraffe or a rhino was crossing the road. We were able to get pretty close to the giraffes too but we weren’t allowed to touch them. Again we spent some time with them and learned everything we wanted to know. I had lots of questions and Abri had lots of answers.
The next animal we were due to meet was the lions! We drove around a bit in search of them before we found them in the back corner. They were lounging out in the sun without a care in the world. Unlike the previous animals we didn’t get quite as close to these cats. Abri explained to us how dangerous they are and how fast they can move. They are very powerful animals as well. A full grown lion can break the back of an adult elephant with one smack on his back! Impressive and intimidating, but lucky for us we didn’t get attacked. I did have my camera ready just in case.
Elephants were next on our stop and we ran into two of them not too far away. There was a male and female and the male was trying everything he could to mate with the female. Let’s just say it made telling them apart a lot easier… I was filming their behavior at one point while our guide was giving us information. I was sort of half paying attention to both of them when I noticed Abri had jumped back into the jeep, started it, and was on his way out. At the same moment I realized that the elephants were charging towards us and actually followed us in a short pursuit. It was really crazy and I got the whole thing on film! Just goes to show you should always keep your cameras at hand. I just wish I had that flip cam with me
The last of the big animals we saw was the buffalo. They are actually the most misunderstood animal of them all. They kill more people than all the other animals previously mentioned added together. They are aggressive animals that are difficult to read. They were also the most expensive animals on the reserve. You could pay up to 90 million rand for just one of them. The reason is because people love to hunt them. People will pay a lot for what they can’t have.
The game drive was everything I thought it’d be and more and I got a ton of great pictures. It’s also just the start of all the amazing animals I’ll be seeing while on this tour. The accommodation for the night is really cool to. We are staying in an old train car that was turned into a B&B. We each have our own compartment with windows that overlook the ocean. It’s going to be a nice night falling asleep to the sounds of crashing waves!