Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Safari

There was no way we could go all the way to South Africa without going on safari.  During the World Cup safari tours were, unsurprisingly, a bit pricey.  So, the thrifty explorers that we are we decided to wait until after the tournament had ended to book our bush adventure.

We decided to go to Pilanesberg National Park in northern South Africa, about 2 hours north of Johannesburg.  Pilanesberg is a massive park (about 220 square miles), has plenty of lodges to choose from and, most importantly, has "the BIG FIVE." Courtney found a game lodge called Pilanesberg Private Lodge (very original) which was located in the northwestern corner of the park on a private reserve called the Black Rhino Reserve.  The price was very reasonable and their website looked great so we decided to give it go.

The lodge was great. It had a main lodge building that included an outdoor deck complete with hot tub and swimming pool and five smaller buildings where guests stay.  The lodge only sleeps ten people so it's quite intimate.  Our stay was even more cozy as there was only one other person staying there during our visit so we were treated to some personal attention from the game rangers.  On our second night there we even had two private game drives.

We came across this herd of elephants heading for an early evening visit to the watering hole

This black rhino almost charged us.  Some quick thinking from our game ranger spared us from a trampling.

We interrupted this little guy's breakfast.

Enjoying a beer after a day tracking game in the bush.

We did four game drives in total and although our first outing was fairly quiet overall we were not disappointed.  We saw elephants, zebra, black rhino, white rhino, giraffe, wildebeest, impala, kudu, jackal, and steenbok.  We even saw a pair of porcupines.  Doesn't really capture the imagination like seeing a pride of lions would but apparently they are a pretty rare find.  The most exciting sighting of all though was the leopard we spotted (I had to) with a fresh kill in it's mouth...very cool.  Unfortunately we only caught a brief glimpse of it and then it vanished into the tall grass before we could get any pictures.  On our last drive we tracked a lion for a couple of hours but unfortunately he eluded us.  Overall we had an amazing time and it was a great way to end our stay in South Africa.

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