South Africa: Sabi Sabi Safari – Part 1

From Bob Conger:

When we arrived at Sabi Sabi the airfield was deserted except for the 2 extended open top Land Rovers sent to collect us for the 45 minute dirt track ride to our small lodge, which consisted of just 8 tiny cottages (each containing just one double room and bathroom), and a central area for dining and relaxing in open air thatched roof verandas.

We had a few minutes to settle in and reconnect with our luggage, a brief orientation session with our hosts, a glass of iced tea, and then it was time for our first game drive.  The six of us (Bob & Maggie, Jen & Jon, and Rob & Emily) were in a Land Rover with our ranger and a “tracker” who sits on a seat on the hood of the vehicle to examine tracks and signs of animals, and advise the ranger of where to take the car.

It turned out to be a spectacular first night out — we spent most of it viewing a pride of lions that had killed two water buffalo the previous night, and were still feasting.  Hard to keep track, but we saw 10-15 lions in various stages of gorging themselves, lying sprawled on the ground after their feast, bellies hugely distended, or traveling to the nearby waterhole for a drink.  We were able to sit quietly in the car just 10-20 feet away from the lions — they have learned to ignore the vehicles — and gape as we watched them in a variety of activities.  Incredible, majestic cats!

The lions were our main event for the evening, but we also heard baboons alarmed at the proximity of the lions, dozens of enormous vultures lurking in the trees near the kill waiting for their turn, two elephants, a fabulous sunset, spectacular stars (half of them unfamiliar to us northern hemisphere residents), the Milky Way, the Magellan cloud (remains of a supernova), and shooting stars.  Our ranger was a great lover of birds and he has been pointing out fascinating, and in some cases fabulously colored, varieties too numerous to name here.

Back to the lodge around 8 pm for dinner, then back to our rooms for a shower and a welcome collapse into bed.  Sleep came quickly after the day’s excitement.

Moments later, at 5:30 am, a wake up knock on the door, slip on some clothes, head to the central area for a quick cup of tea, and by 6:00 am we were back in the vehicle with our ranger (Mike Karantonis) and tracker (also Mike) for our next adventure.  Our objective was to see if we could spot a leopard.  No luck there, but we did see a lioness prowling, a large bull elephant, kudu (sort of the shape of a mule, but with nicer coloration) including young ones (even one suckling), wildebeest, zebras, impalas (smallish graceful antelopes) including young, a white rhino, spiders the size of a silver dollar (with webs a yard in diameter), eagles and hawks, and many other interesting and beautiful birds.  We stopped for a tea break out in the bush, and walked across the bush the last 45 minutes or so back to the lodge, where a delicious breakfast, and relaxation time, awaited us after our introduction to the evening and morning and bush.

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~ by Rob Page III on August 2, 2010.

One Response to “South Africa: Sabi Sabi Safari – Part 1”

  1. […] Surely today will be a letdown after the past day and a half. […]

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