A Travellerspoint blog

Safari to Cape Town

Day 6

Today we had our final game drive on safari. This morning we saw the female leopard from last night. She had gutted the impala and buried the guts to prevent hyenas from finding her kill. She also placed the impala’s body under some brush to prevent the vultures from finding her kill. The pictures were a little graphic! We will create a site where you have to verify your age to see them - j/k.

We also saw a jackal. We had seen a few at night but now we were able to get a great picture during the day.
jackal

jackal

At the end of the game drive, we found a male leopard. His size was amazing, especially after seeing female leopards. The guides were excited to have found him because they had been attempting to locate him for a few days. They had seen the tracks before but were unable to locate him previously.
male leopard

male leopard

We had a transfer (aka taxi) drive us from the safari lodge to the airport. We drove through various small towns. The children are still in school and we saw several of them walking down the road. They are closing all the schools during the World Cup to help with traffic and to allow the whole country to be a part of the games.

We arrived in Cape Town. It was raining and much colder. We got our World Cup tickets at a kiosk at the airport. Alan and Chad were giddy!
world cup tickets

world cup tickets

We got our rental car which is a Honda CRV…same car as Colleen’s. It was nice to know the features, even though the driver is on the opposite side. Alan did a great job shifting and driving on the left side of the road (or as our German friends put it the "wrong" side of the road). Chad was a great navigator.

We arrived in the wine country which was very quiet. We called to confirm our great white shark diving trip but it was canceled due to bad weather. Tomorrow would have been the only day we could have done this. So, we know our parents are pleased that we didn’t get to swim with the sharks!

Posted by zillichs 13:03 Comments (1)

Final full day on Safari

Day 5: Arathusa Safari Lodge

Our last full day of Safari.
We have already seen the “Big 5” - lions, water buffalos, elephants, leopards, and rhinoceros (selected for the rareness of their sightings) as well as 5 “rare” animals – giraffes, cheetahs, wildebeests, hippopotamus, and warthog and 5 animals we had never heard of before – stellenbock, monitor lizards, kudu antelope, impala antelope, and waterbuck. So the pressure was off and we could just enjoy the rides today. Good thing, this morning we saw a Zebra and um, a stork, which was cool, but we’ve been spoiled. Here each of us are with different animals. It was amazing how close we were.

jen and a cheetah

jen and a cheetah

colleen and rhino

colleen and rhino

chad and buffalo

chad and buffalo

alan and elephant

alan and elephant

After brunch we lounged by the pool and saw an elephant come drink from the watering hole. The other day there was a herd of elephants that drank water from the watering hole in front of our lodge.
group overlooking elephants

group overlooking elephants

colleen and jen with elephant

colleen and jen with elephant

On the afternoon ride, we tracked down that same elephant. It was a bull (male) and he was traveling by himself. We got within 1.5 meters (about 5 feet). Our guide, De Beer, estimated his weight at 6 tons (12,000 pounds). At sunset we stopped for a few drinks – wine and beer and took a few pictures to remember our last night of safari.
group in safari vehicle

group in safari vehicle

Then we started driving back and came across a leopard. The leopards are territorial so on the reserve they have names for them. This one is Safari. She’s old (about 17 years old) and probably a grandmother. She’s blind in her right eye and she is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. We rode along side her and she spotted a rabbit. She started chasing after it! But eventually the rabbit got away. (Wouldn’t that be cool to see a kill). She headed into the thicker brush and we followed her for awhile to get some pictures. She appeared to be hunting something though, with her stance crouched and low.

safari leopard hunting

safari leopard hunting

We lost her for a second as we went around a tree and the next time we caught her she had an impala by the throat! Unbelievable! The impala was still alive. The leopards (and the lions and the cheetah’s for that matter) kill by cutting off the wind to the animal and within 5 minutes she was dead – dinner time.
impala kill

impala kill

She killed the impala as we were just a few feet away. She then dragged it up a tree in three steps. It was truly unbelievable what we witnessed as it is rare to actually see a leopard make a kill.
leopard climbing up tree

leopard climbing up tree

Lest you think this all fun and games, we have had to make some very difficult decisions. For instance, if you were to return in a second life as an animal would you want to be an elephant who eats for 18-20 hours a day or a lion who sleeps for 18-20 hours a day? Tough one, huh?

Tomorrow we have an early morning game drive and then fly to Cape Town. We will be renting a car and driving to the wine country. More to come....
Group_Day5

Group_Day5

Posted by zillichs 13:43 Comments (1)

Arathusa Safari Lodge

Day 4

The Safari has been awesome. We start each morning with a 5:30 am wake up call (I know some vacation, huh?) then we go on a sunrise ride, because as you know animals are most active at sunrise and sunset. Then, they rest during the middle of the day (maybe I can get used to this).

Landscape_Day4

Landscape_Day4

Each vehicle (they are modified Toyota Land Cruisers) has a tracker and a guide. The trackers are local native experts who have a seat on the front of the vehicle and they spot tracks and send us in the right direction. The guide is a trained expert who can tell us everything we ever wanted to know about each animal. Giraffe's are rare in this area and this morning we got a special treat.

giraffe_day4

giraffe_day4

After the morning ride we have a wonderful brunch then a few hour break (translation, Chad takes a nap). They also offer a bush walk. Today we walked around the property and got to see tracks, dung, and animals at the reservoir.

Rhino_Day4

Rhino_Day4

Our tracker's name is Rifos and he is fantastic. Our guide the first 2 days was Andre, then we had Ryan and in the afternoon we had De Beers (I think they named a diamond company after him).

Lions_Day4

Lions_Day4

This picture should give you an idea of how close we actually are to these animals (I was able to stop Colleen and Jen from petting the lions).

CJ_Lions_Day4

CJ_Lions_Day4

Enjoy!

Posted by zillichs 13:37 Comments (0)

Arathusa Safari Lodge

Day 2: Sabi Sands game park

Today we had 2 game drives, a sunrise and a sunset game drive. The sunrise game drive was very, very cold. We had many layers but could have even worn more. During this game drive, we saw elephants, zebras, and 2 beautiful cheetahs.
Here is a picture of the zebras:
Zebra

Zebra

Here is a picture of one of the two cheetahs we saw (the mother).
Cheetah

Cheetah

During our evening game drive, we saw cheetahs, impala, elephants, and a leopard. Here is a picture of the leopard. We found it when it was eating a baboon's hind quarters (rump steak).
Leopard_eating_baboon

Leopard_eating_baboon

We have 2 more days of game driving and are loving this experience.

Posted by zillichs 12:56 Comments (2)

Arathusa Safari Lodge

Day 2: Johannesburg to Arathusa Safari Lodge

We flew overnight from Istanbul to Johannesburg, South Africa. We then took a 1 hour flight to the safari airport, Hoedspruit. We then drove 1 1/2 hours to our safari lodge, Arathusa. Jen spotted the first wildlife....giraffes....outside of the airport. Once we got to the safari lodge, we had lunch and then went on our first game drive. This was an afternoon/sunset drive. We saw a hippo, impala, kudu, a herd of 20 elephants, water buffalo, baboons, zebras, rhinos, and 12 lions eating a buffalo. Here is a picture of one of lions after eating the buffalo. It was incredible that they could care less about us watching. We were within 5 feet of the lions.
Female Lion

Female Lion

When on the safari, we stop to have a drink in the bush. Here's a picture of us next to our safari jeep.
AZ, CZ, CK, JK

AZ, CZ, CK, JK

Posted by zillichs 12:14 Comments (0)

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