My South African safari

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The background – Why South Africa

In 2017 I went to Tanzania for a Safari to the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro and Tarangire national parks. I didn’t know what to expect and I was surprised and astonished by all the things I saw and discovered.

Back home I stumbled into a video of Safarilive, now Wildearth, on my Facebook page. I was immediately drawn to it. Being able to follow a safari twice a day, for months, knowing what happened to the different animals was simply great. Because of this, with the years, the desire of getting to the Sabi Sand in South Africa and see everything I had been seeing online with my own eyes grew steadily.

In October 2021 I finally contacted Ale. Having seeing her presenting as a guide on  Wildearth, I learned that she had started her own travel agency – WanderingThru. The contact was quickly established, the decisions taken rapidly as a knew where I wanted to go, and within a few logistical adjustments, the trip was booked!. As Omicron appeared, I feared the mess that hinders us for almost two years from travelling would strike again, but finally, on 21st of March I left Strasbourg in France finally headed to Hoedspruit and then onto the Sabi Sand to focus on my leopard search.

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Leopard luck

After two hours of drive on a bumpy road, transferring from Hoedspruit airport, we passed Gowrie gate to enter the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Not even 300 meters from the gate leopard luck struck first. Lying in the shade of a bush, on the side of the road, there was a stunning-looking and completely relaxed leopard. Just 1000 meters further away down the road, the second one!. Awesome. I later found these leopards where the Tavangumi male and the Xidulu female.

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I arrived at Nkorho bush lodge, home for the next four days, as my guide and a party of four were already waiting for the afternoon game drive. I just dropped my bag, grabbed my camera and off we went. In fewer than thirty minutes I was with the third leopard of the day. Langa was resting in the shade. She had killed a big impala ram a few hours before.

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This was the rhythm for four days, jumping from one great sighting into another. Between the drives I could fully profit of the lodge with its great accommodations and the warm and hospitable staff. I have a particular thought for Matt, Johan and Pieter, our guides.

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As if on purpose, the best sighting was reserved for the last game drive. We found the female leopard Xidulu in the long grass. After grooming, she started walking and we followed her; our guide was sure she was on a mission. After twenty minutes, she walked into a drainage line and started contact calling (a soft vocalization). And suddenly, there it was, her tiny ten-week-old cub came out of the thickets. I had witnessed this a few times on Wildearth when watching the live shows: guides being completely excited and happy by a sighting. Now I understood and felt the same, with a smile going from one ear to another!

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Next stop: Ngala and the white lions

Still enchanted by this last sighting, I was on the road again bumping towards Ngala. When I arrived there, I received a heartly welcome and was charmed by this beautiful lodge. Less hasty than on the first day, I could enjoy a great lunch and prepare for the afternoon drive. I was introduced to Amy and Misha, our guide and tracker for the next few days. They are both lovely and made my stay an incredible experience.

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The following drives were a succession of great sightings of elephants, impalas and wildebeests, birds and wild dogs, but the white lions kept elusive. One afternoon we again headed out in search for the lions. We found a wildebeest, elephants and rhinos. As we handed over the rhino sighting to another vehicle, we heard hyenas whooping… then all hell broke loose. Wild dogs chased across the road after an impala, followed by hyenas. Absolute pandemonium like Tristan Dicks used to say. One guy in the car shouted “This one has a head in his mouth!”. Mind-blowing!

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While we didn’t see the lion that afternoon, the white subadult male did wait for us the following morning: mission accomplished!.

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We found the white subadult male with one of the females on the airstrip and later on he offered us memorable walk-by

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You can go to the bush with a bucket list and check all the boxes. But for me new boxes appeared. This means just one thing: I will be back! So be prepared dear Ale!

 

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