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South Africa – Sabi Sabi Safari

I’ve been a complete muppet & left it too long to tell you about my Safari trip in South Africa. I flew from Johannesburg to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve – to the west of Kruger Park. The plane was a small 19 seater twin prop… easily the smallest plane I’ve ever been on. So small, that I managed to bump my head off the ceiling (and I’m only 5’7”!!).

The flight was pretty uneventful, but you don’t half appreciate how bumpy a plane journey can be until you’re in one of the little ones. I’ve always believed that the guys who fly the wee ones are the guys who can actually fly. On landing, I was collected by the Lodge Guide & taken, on my own, through proper savannah, in blistering heat (easily high 30’s) in a specially designed Land Rover.

I was taken to Little Bush Camp, the smallest of the Sabi Sabi Luxury Lodges. It had 6 Lodges on this premises alongside the main building. What this actually meant was two things… firstly, it had a capacity of 12 people, and you got to know everyone. I hadn’t truly appreciated that Safari is either a Honeymoon or Family thing… I was the only individual traveller in both the camps I stayed in.

Anyways, it wasn’t long until I was headed on my first afternoon Safari tour.

The set up is pretty straight forward. One morning tour, where you rise for Dawn, and one afternoon tour for the sunset. You sit in your car at all costs, and get driven around looking for the Big Five & anything else you can see.

As it happened, I spotted Leopard in my first run, which is by all accounts, an unusual feat to have to your name. Leopard are traditionally very shy and difficult to spot. We also spotted a number of other animals, including Chameleon, Wildebeest, Giraffe & a host of birds. Perhaps one of the most memorable things was the noise after dark. The frogs created a terrific racket.

On day two, we were off out in the morning as per the plan, and more Giraffe were spotted… but not a lot else. Day two was also the day I was moved over to the other Camp Bush Lodge Camp. This was a much bigger deal – 24 Lodges, so a capacity of 48.

Over the course of the next two days, I would do four more runs, and see a whole gamut of animals. Rhino, Hippo, Zebra, Buffalo, Eagles, Kingfishers, Hyena, Antelope of different types… I’d also get to taste a number of meats I’d never even heard of (though Ostrich gave me indigestion… boo). The weather, was in the main glorious, with one exception, where on my first night in the second camp, an incredible thunder & lightning storm took place. The flashes went on for hours, and hours. As exciting as that was, the first thing to greet me on morning?? A hyena footprint on my path.

The second camp was also full of Rangers who weren’t from what you could describe as traditional Safari hinterlands. Like the girl from Dublin, or the guy from Berkshire. Odd.

One of the highlights was taking the ‘Bush Walk’ with a Ranger… I say highlights, but it was perhaps the most nervy hour I had in the whole few days. Everyone you talk to says “Don’t get out of the Car!!” fair enough, until the Ranger offers to take you… how can you say no?! So on our way out through the gate, I get my instructions – 1. Stay close. 2. Stay behind me. 3 If we’re attacked, do not run. Straight forward enough you’d think… I also noticed that Mr Ranger was carrying 9 bullets – four in the rifle chamber, and 5 on his belt… in a way that didn’t make reloading look like a quick task… heart rate heightened.

“So [Mr Ranger] you’ve done this alot, have you been attacked often??” asked the naive tourist… “Many Times.” Heart rate a wee bit quicker.

As it happened, for the whole hour, we didn’t see a single animal. Not one. Not even a frog. Or a Bird (which I actually took as a bad sign). Easy peasy. On the way I learnt a bit about natural aniseed, found out how to make a natural toothbrush & how to make some air fresher for the home with Lavender.

And so the days passed peacefully… till it was time to climb back on the little 19 seater & make my way back to Johannesburg for a four hour stop over & then on to London, and eventually, on Christmas Eve (with a bunch of dancers from ‘Lord of the Dance’) to Belfast & Clabby. Where it was –8 degrees on touch down. Nippy.

So a great holiday, with something learned, and new places & adventures seen. No doubt it won’t be long until the next one.


About Mcfaggen

Having grown up in Co. Fermanagh where most of my family still reside, I thought it would be worthwhile to keep a blog of my travels around the rest of the UK, Europe and the World.


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