Let me start by explaining I am a bit of a wuss, I always have been. I even remember crying when I was younger while an exterminator was performing the raccoon removal process on one of the little critters in our attic. As I’ve become an adult I guess I’ve toughened up a little and ten months a go when I booked safari in South Africa, it felt like a daunting but exciting challenge in the near future but last week as we drove deeper into the game reserve I could feel my nerves heighten…
I go very quite and still when I am anxious and as we pasted a sign which said “Enter at risk, lions present,” I couldn’t quite believe I was willingly doing this but kept reminding myself that life is about adventures and by the look on J’s excited face, I knew one of us was at ease. A text from my mum saying “do something every day that scares you” gave me a boost.
We pulled up in the middle of nowhere to our lodge and were greeted by a lady called Melissa who showed us around the main lodge. We were staying in a lodge which was a short walk along a platform and I was frantically asking if animals could get in. Melissa assured me that the electric wire, which looked like a tiny fence, kept them out except for monkeys and jackals. I wasn’t convinced seeing as other guests told us that only last week a buffalo fell in the swimming pool then strolled into the bar area!
In our thatched roof lodge I relaxed a little apart from jumping at a grasshopper on my pillow, I had to get a grip as I knew we would be seeing much larger animals later on our drive. After freshening up, it was time for lunch and then our first game drive. Eek, time to channel brave Lottie, I knew she was in there somewhere.
We hopped on the jeep and within 20 minutes it was confirmed I wasn’t made for the wild. To start with I was looking through my binoculars the wrong way around wondering why the zebra looked so far away and then shouted that I could see a hedgehog before the ranger announced that there was no hedgehog in the bush- only in my back garden at home then I guess!
I began to settle into the drives and in our first 24 hours we ended up seeing the lioness (who hadn’t been seen for days), cheetah, elephants, rhino, giraffe, zebra and a herd of buffalo. As we sat in the middle of the herd, our ranger who’s name was Wonga, decided it would be a good time to tell us that the buffalo is actually the most dangerous of the big 5 and they don’t have any warning signs prior to attacking! Great!
There’s was another time that Wonga pushed me out of my comfort zone. We parked up by some baby elephants and he said it was safe to get out of the jeep for some snacks and wine. Surely we could be eaten at any point but Wonga looked very relaxed and convinced me out on foot. Within minutes, J wandered off behind a bush for a wee and Wonga left to explore a little deeper, I was alone! Time to channel brave Lottie, nope she’s not quite up for single handedly fighting off wild cats yet. I ran back to the jeep!
On our drives I learnt so much about the animals which made me feel a little more comfortable in their territory. For instance, there’s never been any report of a cheetah attacking a human and although they can run up to 100km an hour, it’s only for a short distance before they get tired. We saw a lazy cheetah sunbathing one morning and he put his head up every few minutes to check for danger, I was later doing the same when sunbathing on the veranda- not very relaxing!
We would sometimes see an odd impala chilling with some antelopes or a zebra and giraffe alone. Apparently when an animal gets lost of kicked out their herd, they are of course very vulnerable to predators so other species welcome them into their group- how cute is that! I have many more stories but don’t want to give too much away incase you decide to safari yourself one day.
Each drive was a brand new experience and after the final drive where we watched the sunset with the lioness and her two cubs before falling asleep to the sound of monkeys on our roof, I actually thought – hey lots you’re pretty brave, but lets go home now to the garden hedgehogs!
Thank you Cedarberg Travel for helping me organise such a fabulous trip.
Love, Lottie x