Safari

Safari: Pamper Yourself on a Budget in South Africa

We’ve compiled safari packages to suit all budgets in this week’s blog.

Travelling during May-September is a great time for South African deals as it’s considered to be low season. Although there may be more rain along the coast, inland is dry which makes the animals more visible as the bush is less thick. If you’re looking for deals around this time, the Samara Private Game Reserve has some great off-peak deals which include all the luxuries you would normally pay full price for! Be on the lookout for rhinos, cheetahs and antelopes having a stroll on the reserve.

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Choosing a self-drive safari is easier than you think and can help save on costs and gives you the flexibility to see what you want on safari. In South Africa, major parks are in easy driving distance of the big cities. If you’re staying in Johannesburg, you can pick up a rental car and simply drive to Kruger National Park which is three hours away.

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If you choose to take the road less travelled, you will be rewarded. There are the popular reserves which cater to international tourists and have been written about countless times on travel blogs. There are also lesser-known reserves such as Madikwe and Marakele in South Africa which is well-known to locals. It’s less visited by international tourists, and it often offers better deals

Visiting the smaller sibling camps of the bigger safari companies is a way of ensuring you’re getting the premium experience, without the price tag. Many leading safari companies are developing smaller sister camps close to some of their pricier flagship properties. If there is a particular safari company you want to book with but can’t afford it, have a look to see if they have sibling properties which are more within your budget.

Staying in national park lodges is a common way for local South Africans to go on Safari, these camp sites and bungalows are run by the state-funded national parks that maintain the reserves. This means you won’t be getting all the luxury of a private lodge however; a self-catering, two-bedroom bungalow can save you a fair bit of money. Staying at a Kruger National Park lodge has prices starting from $70. The beauty of staying at a national park lodge is you save on travel time and have access to hiring national park rangers to take you on organised game drives, another cost saver.

South Africa offers travel experiences for all budgets, the hardest part is deciding which experience you want!

 

Safari: Pamper Yourself on a Budget in South Africa

We’ve compiled safari packages to suit all budgets in this week’s blog.

Travelling during May-September is a great time for South African deals as it’s considered to be low season. Although there may be more rain along the coast, inland is dry which makes the animals more visible as the bush is less thick. If you’re looking for deals around this time, the Samara Private Game Reserve has some great off-peak deals which include all the luxuries you would normally pay full price for! Be on the lookout for rhinos, cheetahs and antelopes having a stroll on the reserve.

5586488518_02d8da64b4_z

Choosing a self-drive safari is easier than you think and can help save on costs and gives you the flexibility to see what you want on safari. In South Africa, major parks are in easy driving distance of the big cities. If you’re staying in Johannesburg, you can pick up a rental car and simply drive to Kruger National Park which is three hours away.

4742339298_f18ab47db8_z

If you choose to take the road less travelled, you will be rewarded. There are the popular reserves which cater to international tourists and have been written about countless times on travel blogs. There are also lesser-known reserves such as Madikwe and Marakele in South Africa which is well-known to locals. It’s less visited by international tourists, and it often offers better deals

Visiting the smaller sibling camps of the bigger safari companies is a way of ensuring you’re getting the premium experience, without the price tag. Many leading safari companies are developing smaller sister camps close to some of their pricier flagship properties. If there is a particular safari company you want to book with but can’t afford it, have a look to see if they have sibling properties which are more within your budget.

Staying in national park lodges is a common way for local South Africans to go on Safari, these camp sites and bungalows are run by the state-funded national parks that maintain the reserves. This means you won’t be getting all the luxury of a private lodge however; a self-catering, two-bedroom bungalow can save you a fair bit of money. Staying at a Kruger National Park lodge has prices starting from $70. The beauty of staying at a national park lodge is you save on travel time and have access to hiring national park rangers to take you on organised game drives, another cost saver.

South Africa offers travel experiences for all budgets, the hardest part is deciding which experience you want!

 

Reconsider South Africa:  The Video

 

videoFrameThe latest ad from South African Tourism highlights what makes a trip to South Africa so compelling by highlighting the authenticity and friendliness of the South African people.

Join traveller James O’Driscoll as he experiences the warmth and hospitality of his South African hosts and builds genuine connections with the people, places and experiences that make up a truly unforgettable holiday.

Reconsider South Africa: The Video

 

videoFrameThe latest ad from South African Tourism highlights what makes a trip to South Africa so compelling by highlighting the authenticity and friendliness of the South African people.

Join traveller James O’Driscoll as he experiences the warmth and hospitality of his South African hosts and builds genuine connections with the people, places and experiences that make up a truly unforgettable holiday.

Our commitment to Conservation

South Africa is a place of beauty and depicts so vividly the majestic nature of its wildlife. A huge part of that wildlife is the rhino and although a rhino may look quite indestructible (it’s the second largest animal on land and weighs on average two tonnes!), populations have plummeted in the past and now there are fears that the rhino is facing renewed risk of extinction. As the demand for rhino horn increases in the Far East there has been a rapid increase in poaching of the beautiful white and black rhinos.

More →

Our commitment to Conservation

South Africa is a place of beauty and depicts so vividly the majestic nature of its wildlife. A huge part of that wildlife is the rhino and although a rhino may look quite indestructible (it’s the second largest animal on land and weighs on average two tonnes!), populations have plummeted in the past and now there are fears that the rhino is facing renewed risk of extinction. As the demand for rhino horn increases in the Far East there has been a rapid increase in poaching of the beautiful white and black rhinos.

More →

Four Friends, Ten Days and Twenty Unforgettable Experiences – Part 3

The final installment of our lucky traveler’s trip starts in Cape Town and finishes with what South Africa is most famous for, going on safari. More →

Four Friends, Ten Days and Twenty Unforgettable Experiences – Part 3

The final installment of our lucky traveler’s trip starts in Cape Town and finishes with what South Africa is most famous for, going on safari. More →

Sabi Sabi Ranger Story – Ultimate Walk

It was a sunny morning at Selati Camp when we started off on a walking safari. My guests, Ian and Heather MacPherson (father and daughter), as well as a honeymoon couple, Neil and Tracy Bantleman, who had been staying with us for 3 nights, were unaware of the extraordinary walk they wer about to experience.

They were all wildlife enthusiasts and loved their walking safaris, so I asked them whether or not they would be interested in doing a longer walk than usual. They were excited at the idea.

After having a wonderful breakfast in the comfort of the camp, we all set off with our backpacks, water and walking shoes. The sun was getting higher in the sky and the temperature was beginning to soar. This meant that the animals were most likely starting to take to shady spots to keep themselves cool. That would make also make it harder for us to find them.

Shortly after leaving the camp, I found up some fresh Giraffe spoor. The tracks were larger than normal, which suggested that they were from a big male. I estimated that he had walked there within the past hour. My guests were very keen to see the giraffe, so off we went to track him.

Sometimes people think that because Giraffes are so tall they are easy to spot, and it always amazes them just how camouflaged the tallest animal in the world can actually be. We followed the tracks through an Acacia thicket, and into and out of a small drainage line. As we came over a small hill, there, 50-60 meters away was the Giraffe we had been searching for. He was a nice big male, with a darker than normal coat. I tried using the cover of trees and bushes to get closer in order for my guests to get some good photographs, but with the Giraffes keen eyesight he spotted us creeping towards him. We still managed to get within a short distance of him, while he stared at us with a cautious eye. We got some great shots and Heather was amazed at just how tall the Giraffe really was. When you are sitting in a vehicle, it can give you a false sense of the size of animals, but by going on a walk, you become fully aware of just how big they really are. That’s one thing that makes a walking safari so worthwhile, as you are now on foot in the animals kingdom, walking on their terms.

During the walk Tracy started talking and asking about scorpions. I decided to head towards a rocky outcrop which is usually a good place to look for them. After scouting out a couple of rocks, I found the perfect one. Rock scorpions normally like to hide under rocks that are fairly large, ones that baboons will find difficult to lift as they search for their scorpion snacks. With a bit of effort we managed to lift the rock just far enough off the ground for me to be able to get a good look underneath. There lay a medium sized rock scorpion. I picked it up by the small tail and began to explain to my intrigued guests just how advanced a scorpion’s senses are. With tiny little hairs called trichobothria, they can detect a termite walking 40cm away, and they can feel the vibrations of thunderstorms still hundreds of kilometers away. Every animal big and small is just so interesting in its own way, which makes my job one of the best in the world. We managed to get some great photographs of our arachnid friend before placing him back underneath its rock home.

We carried on with our walk looking at all sorts of interesting trees, plants and tracks while I shared as much knowledge as I could. After some time we stopped under a big shady tree, where we drank water and took in the peace that the bush has to offer. We saw some fresh buffalo tracks and we could hear the lone bull disturbing all the dry, fallen leaves on the ground as he moved off in the far distance.

After rehydrating ourselves, we put our bags back onto our backs and began to make our way back to the camp which was still about an hour away. We were walking across a big open area, when Neil spotted a beautiful pinkish flower. It was an Impala lily, which even for a colour blind person like myself, is really just so beautiful. We moved closer to it to take some photographs. Ian hadn’t brought a camera, so he stood a few meters away from us, looking around with his binoculars

Sabi Sabi Ranger Story – Ultimate Walk

It was a sunny morning at Selati Camp when we started off on a walking safari. My guests, Ian and Heather MacPherson (father and daughter), as well as a honeymoon couple, Neil and Tracy Bantleman, who had been staying with us for 3 nights, were unaware of the extraordinary walk they wer about to experience.

They were all wildlife enthusiasts and loved their walking safaris, so I asked them whether or not they would be interested in doing a longer walk than usual. They were excited at the idea.

After having a wonderful breakfast in the comfort of the camp, we all set off with our backpacks, water and walking shoes. The sun was getting higher in the sky and the temperature was beginning to soar. This meant that the animals were most likely starting to take to shady spots to keep themselves cool. That would make also make it harder for us to find them.

Shortly after leaving the camp, I found up some fresh Giraffe spoor. The tracks were larger than normal, which suggested that they were from a big male. I estimated that he had walked there within the past hour. My guests were very keen to see the giraffe, so off we went to track him.

Sometimes people think that because Giraffes are so tall they are easy to spot, and it always amazes them just how camouflaged the tallest animal in the world can actually be. We followed the tracks through an Acacia thicket, and into and out of a small drainage line. As we came over a small hill, there, 50-60 meters away was the Giraffe we had been searching for. He was a nice big male, with a darker than normal coat. I tried using the cover of trees and bushes to get closer in order for my guests to get some good photographs, but with the Giraffes keen eyesight he spotted us creeping towards him. We still managed to get within a short distance of him, while he stared at us with a cautious eye. We got some great shots and Heather was amazed at just how tall the Giraffe really was. When you are sitting in a vehicle, it can give you a false sense of the size of animals, but by going on a walk, you become fully aware of just how big they really are. That’s one thing that makes a walking safari so worthwhile, as you are now on foot in the animals kingdom, walking on their terms.

During the walk Tracy started talking and asking about scorpions. I decided to head towards a rocky outcrop which is usually a good place to look for them. After scouting out a couple of rocks, I found the perfect one. Rock scorpions normally like to hide under rocks that are fairly large, ones that baboons will find difficult to lift as they search for their scorpion snacks. With a bit of effort we managed to lift the rock just far enough off the ground for me to be able to get a good look underneath. There lay a medium sized rock scorpion. I picked it up by the small tail and began to explain to my intrigued guests just how advanced a scorpion’s senses are. With tiny little hairs called trichobothria, they can detect a termite walking 40cm away, and they can feel the vibrations of thunderstorms still hundreds of kilometers away. Every animal big and small is just so interesting in its own way, which makes my job one of the best in the world. We managed to get some great photographs of our arachnid friend before placing him back underneath its rock home.

We carried on with our walk looking at all sorts of interesting trees, plants and tracks while I shared as much knowledge as I could. After some time we stopped under a big shady tree, where we drank water and took in the peace that the bush has to offer. We saw some fresh buffalo tracks and we could hear the lone bull disturbing all the dry, fallen leaves on the ground as he moved off in the far distance.

After rehydrating ourselves, we put our bags back onto our backs and began to make our way back to the camp which was still about an hour away. We were walking across a big open area, when Neil spotted a beautiful pinkish flower. It was an Impala lily, which even for a colour blind person like myself, is really just so beautiful. We moved closer to it to take some photographs. Ian hadn’t brought a camera, so he stood a few meters away from us, looking around with his binoculars

Leopard gets revenge

Our intention that morning was to go back to an area where we had heard lions calling the night before, to see if they had crossed into our property – well, that was the plan anyway…

Not long out of Bush Lodge, we spotted a hyena crossing the road in front of us. It crossed rather hurriedly and looked as if it was carrying something in its mouth. We followed up, and sure enough, it was a female spotted hyena carrying the remains of a bushbuck kill. The actions of the hyena told us that the kill had been stolen from another predator – in this case, more than likely a leopard. We understood why she was in such a hurry.

Knowing that the hyenas had a den on the property, we decided to keep following. It was evident by the fullness of her stomach that this female had already eaten her fill from the carcass. Carrying a half eaten bushbuck isn’t all that easy, and she had to keep stopping to adjust her grip on the carcass, each time looking very nervously behind her for the predator who might be following the drag marks and scent being left behind. She was right to be nervous.

The hyena stopped to drink from a small pan, dropping the carcass in the water for protection. It is very unlikely that a cat would go into the water to fetch it. She had a drink, picked up the carcass again and as she got to the edge of the pan, dropped it and spun around, facing the direction she had just come from, looking as alert as ever and extremely nervous.

As we watched, a male leopard came bursting out of the surrounding bush, growling and intent on getting his kill back. The sound of the charge is something I never want to experience on foot, and I’m not surprised the hyena took the sensible choice and tucked tail and ran, as this is one of the biggest male leopards on our reserve. He searched frantically around the water for the carcass, located it, and with what seemed like lightning speed, snapped it up. True to my tracker’s predictions, he went straight to the nearest Marula tree and hoisted himself and the kill out of reach of the hyena, which had come running back onto the scene.

The power and strength of the leopard was awesome. It was up in the tree in no time. By the time we had moved around for a better angle, the hyena was back and the leopard had positioned the kill securely. He stood proud in the tree over his kill catching his breath and surveying the surrounding bush for any other possible intruders. Once satisfied he settled in to eat what remained of his bushbuck.

After a short while another twist unfolded. A young female leopard had obviously also come across the drag marks and followed them. She sheepishly approached the area, going first to the pan of water, sniffing around and then made her way over towards the tree. We thought we were in for a tussle between the two leopards, but the male appeared too engrossed in eating and only gave a few warning growls. The female took up position under the tree and in a way begged for some food. All she was going to get were scraps that would fall as the male ate – definitely not enough to satisfy her hunger. The male had now eaten most of the kill and the remains could no longer be secured in the tree, so he brought the little that was left down to finish on the floor under a nearby thicket of vegetation. The female went up the tree to see what scraps had been left there, but after seeing there wasn’t much, she came down and went to drink some water from the pan.

The leopard, triumphant on this occasion and with a satisfied hunger, lay in the shade of the thicket to sleep the day away, recovering his energy levels to be ready for another night of hunting.

Written by

Malcolm Stirk

Website: www.sabisabi.com


View Larger Map

 

Leopard gets revenge

Our intention that morning was to go back to an area where we had heard lions calling the night before, to see if they had crossed into our property – well, that was the plan anyway…

Not long out of Bush Lodge, we spotted a hyena crossing the road in front of us. It crossed rather hurriedly and looked as if it was carrying something in its mouth. We followed up, and sure enough, it was a female spotted hyena carrying the remains of a bushbuck kill. The actions of the hyena told us that the kill had been stolen from another predator – in this case, more than likely a leopard. We understood why she was in such a hurry.

Knowing that the hyenas had a den on the property, we decided to keep following. It was evident by the fullness of her stomach that this female had already eaten her fill from the carcass. Carrying a half eaten bushbuck isn’t all that easy, and she had to keep stopping to adjust her grip on the carcass, each time looking very nervously behind her for the predator who might be following the drag marks and scent being left behind. She was right to be nervous.

The hyena stopped to drink from a small pan, dropping the carcass in the water for protection. It is very unlikely that a cat would go into the water to fetch it. She had a drink, picked up the carcass again and as she got to the edge of the pan, dropped it and spun around, facing the direction she had just come from, looking as alert as ever and extremely nervous.

As we watched, a male leopard came bursting out of the surrounding bush, growling and intent on getting his kill back. The sound of the charge is something I never want to experience on foot, and I’m not surprised the hyena took the sensible choice and tucked tail and ran, as this is one of the biggest male leopards on our reserve. He searched frantically around the water for the carcass, located it, and with what seemed like lightning speed, snapped it up. True to my tracker’s predictions, he went straight to the nearest Marula tree and hoisted himself and the kill out of reach of the hyena, which had come running back onto the scene.

The power and strength of the leopard was awesome. It was up in the tree in no time. By the time we had moved around for a better angle, the hyena was back and the leopard had positioned the kill securely. He stood proud in the tree over his kill catching his breath and surveying the surrounding bush for any other possible intruders. Once satisfied he settled in to eat what remained of his bushbuck.

After a short while another twist unfolded. A young female leopard had obviously also come across the drag marks and followed them. She sheepishly approached the area, going first to the pan of water, sniffing around and then made her way over towards the tree. We thought we were in for a tussle between the two leopards, but the male appeared too engrossed in eating and only gave a few warning growls. The female took up position under the tree and in a way begged for some food. All she was going to get were scraps that would fall as the male ate – definitely not enough to satisfy her hunger. The male had now eaten most of the kill and the remains could no longer be secured in the tree, so he brought the little that was left down to finish on the floor under a nearby thicket of vegetation. The female went up the tree to see what scraps had been left there, but after seeing there wasn’t much, she came down and went to drink some water from the pan.

The leopard, triumphant on this occasion and with a satisfied hunger, lay in the shade of the thicket to sleep the day away, recovering his energy levels to be ready for another night of hunting.

Written by

Malcolm Stirk

Website: www.sabisabi.com


View Larger Map

 

Cheetah kill commotion attracts leopard

When we joined another vehicle at a cheetah sighting, the animal was on the move walking with intent. The sun was directly behind us catching the morning dew on the tall grass as we weaved through the thick bush quietly behind him. He then stopped, focusing directly in front on a herd of kudu that we had already spotted. At that moment, without hesitation, he took off out of sight as we saw the herd flee, jumping in all directions, avoiding bushes as they scurried off with him in hot pursuit.

We followed quickly but only found him again about 5 minutes later. Panting heavily as he sat upright, we watched the steam coming out his mouth with the morning chill still in the air. It was only a few minutes later when he put his head down that we realised that he had actually been successful with his hunt. He then started to feed on his well-earned meal popping his head up every couple of moments looking around for any possible threats.

All of a sudden he stood tall and alert staring directly at something behind us. I turned around and saw a big male leopard just 2 metres away from our vehicle which was parked some 15 metres from the cheetah and his kill. For a split second, both animals froze dead still. The leopard then jumped forwards and chased the cheetah, which sprinted off. At that point we knew that we would no longer see the cheetah and waited near the kill, a young kudu calf, for the leopard to return. Moments later he was back and with great strength, dragged the kudu into the shade of the nearest big marula tree and started to feed on the carcass. It had barely even been touched by the poor cheetah.

What we had just seen was mind-blowing, predator interaction and a kill all in the space of approximately 20 minutes. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to think about taking any other photographs.

A day later we returned to the area and found the carcass up the Marula tree with the leopard busy feeding.

Cheetah kill commotion attracts leopard

When we joined another vehicle at a cheetah sighting, the animal was on the move walking with intent. The sun was directly behind us catching the morning dew on the tall grass as we weaved through the thick bush quietly behind him. He then stopped, focusing directly in front on a herd of kudu that we had already spotted. At that moment, without hesitation, he took off out of sight as we saw the herd flee, jumping in all directions, avoiding bushes as they scurried off with him in hot pursuit.

We followed quickly but only found him again about 5 minutes later. Panting heavily as he sat upright, we watched the steam coming out his mouth with the morning chill still in the air. It was only a few minutes later when he put his head down that we realised that he had actually been successful with his hunt. He then started to feed on his well-earned meal popping his head up every couple of moments looking around for any possible threats.

All of a sudden he stood tall and alert staring directly at something behind us. I turned around and saw a big male leopard just 2 metres away from our vehicle which was parked some 15 metres from the cheetah and his kill. For a split second, both animals froze dead still. The leopard then jumped forwards and chased the cheetah, which sprinted off. At that point we knew that we would no longer see the cheetah and waited near the kill, a young kudu calf, for the leopard to return. Moments later he was back and with great strength, dragged the kudu into the shade of the nearest big marula tree and started to feed on the carcass. It had barely even been touched by the poor cheetah.

What we had just seen was mind-blowing, predator interaction and a kill all in the space of approximately 20 minutes. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to think about taking any other photographs.

A day later we returned to the area and found the carcass up the Marula tree with the leopard busy feeding.

Wildlife sightings in Phinda

ELUSIVE KINGFISHER!

The gentle breeze was sweeping through the canopy of Riverine Trees and every now and then a large yellow leaf of the Sycamore Fig floated to the ground next to us. The previous evening we had a great downpour and once again the Munyawana River that cuts through Phinda Private Game Reserve was flowing.

We were on a Specialist Safari, comfortably lying in hammocks, serene and relaxed in the cool shade. It felt as though we were the only people in this pristine wilderness! More →

Wildlife sightings in Phinda

ELUSIVE KINGFISHER!

The gentle breeze was sweeping through the canopy of Riverine Trees and every now and then a large yellow leaf of the Sycamore Fig floated to the ground next to us. The previous evening we had a great downpour and once again the Munyawana River that cuts through Phinda Private Game Reserve was flowing.

We were on a Specialist Safari, comfortably lying in hammocks, serene and relaxed in the cool shade. It felt as though we were the only people in this pristine wilderness! More →

Sabi Sabi Bush Sighting – Life in the Fast Lane

via sabisabi.com

Streamlined and elegant, the cheetah strode purposely down the road in front of us. The late afternoon sun glinted off his eyes, giving them the impression of polished amber; his velvet coat glowing gold in the receding light. His long legs and slight frame hinted at the explosive power that lay beneath them. His eyes, perfectly adapted to diurnal hunting, scanned the bush on either side for his next meal. Driven by the need to find food, and constantly aware of the stronger competition that might take it from him, the cheetah leads one of the harshest lives of Africa’s most revered predators. Rarely is he able to finish a meal without the interruption of hyena or lion.

Today he was hungry. His beautiful eyes betrayed the need to eat as they analyzed every inch of the landscape, searching for potential prey. His sharp vision soon picked out a herd of impala casually grazing close to a waterhole. Instantly his demeanor changed. With delicate precision, the cheetah circled his prey. His deliberate approach was borne out of a life of missed opportunities and experience; the ability to see but not be seen essential in his success as a species. Keeping plenty of cover between him and his target, the cheetah finally settled in the lengthening shadows of a knobthorn tree to plan his attack. Between him lay a no-man’s-land of short grass, affording him no cover. For some of the larger predators this would be an unassailable obstacle but this would pose no problem for the blistering speed of the cheetah.

Trained to observe for hours and wait for the perfect moment, he watched the movements and actions of the impala. His long thick tail, so important for balance and maneuverability at high speeds, twitched occasionally, the only sign of his growing excitement. Finally, the trap was set. Inching forward, low on his belly, the cheetah positioned himself, ready to strike. Like a coiled spring, toned muscles rippled as they tensed for action. We waited, breath held as we watched for their release. We knew we were about to witness something special. A cheetah in full flight in the wild is not often seen by people, especially in thick savanna vegetation such as where he had now chosen to hunt. They have to develop new hunting strategies to compensate for less room to operate at high speeds. This time the cheetah had worked the opening that nature had designed it for.

Cheetah-on-the-run

Without warning, the attack came. With incredible speed the cheetah exploded from his concealed position with acceleration that defies belief. Faster than some of the top production cars on the planet, the cheetah hit 60km/h inside 2 seconds. He was a bolt of black and gold streaking across the grass, a feat of natural engineering doing what natural selection has chosen it for. The lightweight frame, enlarged nostrils, non-retractable claws for grip all worked in perfect harmony to propel him towards his target. The impala saw him coming and fled, they themselves also aware that danger can come from any side at any moment. For an instant the cheetah looked beaten but then he hit the afterburners… With so little time to get up to speed, the impala stood no chance. Legs pumping like pistons, massive strides eating the ground beneath him, the cheetah singled out one of the ewes and employed the classic ankle tap. His over-sized dew claw clipped the impala’s back leg and sent it stumbling into the turf. Like a flash, the cheetah was on top of her, strong jaws clamped down on her neck stifling any cries that would alert other predators and cutting off oxygen to the already exhausted impala.

We watched in awe as the entire event unfolded in front of us in the blink of an eye. However, we were not the only audience to this performance. As the cheetah lay beside his prize, panting heavily, trying to get air back to his oxygen-starved limbs, 3 rhinos now approached the spectacle. With no real enemies to worry them, they approached the scene with apparent curiosity, their poor eyesight unable to resolve the situation to their satisfaction. A sighting is always magnified by having interactions between species. It lends itself to the bigger picture, rather than just witnessing individual characters go about their business. Though out gunned and facing about 2000kgs in body weight, the cheetah stood its ground, ready to defend his kill against these armoured giants. Nose to nose, with only a meter or so separating them, the cheetah stood resolute over his kill, hissing and spitting at the spectators. Seemingly perplexed by this fiery little adversary, the rhinos soon moved on no doubt chuckling at the plucky little cat’s defiance.

With the battle won and his prize defended, the cheetah settled down to a well-earned meal. With relish, his sharp teeth opened the soft flesh of the hind quarters and he began to eat, needing to replenish some of the energy expended during the hunt. But this unbelievable sighting was not over for us yet! From the tree line skulked the unmistakable figure of a spotted hyena, the cheetah’s arch nemesis. We knew instantly that all the hard work would come to nothing with the arrival of natures’ principal scavenger. Although quite capable of hunting for themselves, hyenas are brilliantly adapted to reaping the rewards of others labour. The cheetah knew that his meal was lost. He stood his ground trying to get as much nourishment as possible before the inevitable happened. In the human world we always say that death and taxes are inevitable, but I’m sure in the cheetah world, it’s death and hyenas! For a moment, we thought that the two would share the spoils but with a look that could kill, the hyena took one bite and casually dragged his plunder away. The cheetah knew it had met its match and merely watched, before turning away and continuing his unending fight for survival.

Watching this filled me with so many emotions. The excitement of witnessing my first ever kill will live long in my memory but the interactions that followed will make this unforgettable. To see just one of the 3 principle characters in this soap opera would have been special in itself but to see them all was special. Of course we were rooting for the cheetah. It is not often we see this fascinating animal and get to marvel at its abilities, but also to see its weaknesses first hand. To possess such blistering speed means sacrificing strength – a point perfectly highlighted in his decision not even to defend his kill against the more powerful hyena.

by: rika venter – bush lodge ranger

Website: www.sabisabi.com

Sabi Sabi Bush Sighting – Life in the Fast Lane

via sabisabi.com

Streamlined and elegant, the cheetah strode purposely down the road in front of us. The late afternoon sun glinted off his eyes, giving them the impression of polished amber; his velvet coat glowing gold in the receding light. His long legs and slight frame hinted at the explosive power that lay beneath them. His eyes, perfectly adapted to diurnal hunting, scanned the bush on either side for his next meal. Driven by the need to find food, and constantly aware of the stronger competition that might take it from him, the cheetah leads one of the harshest lives of Africa’s most revered predators. Rarely is he able to finish a meal without the interruption of hyena or lion.

Today he was hungry. His beautiful eyes betrayed the need to eat as they analyzed every inch of the landscape, searching for potential prey. His sharp vision soon picked out a herd of impala casually grazing close to a waterhole. Instantly his demeanor changed. With delicate precision, the cheetah circled his prey. His deliberate approach was borne out of a life of missed opportunities and experience; the ability to see but not be seen essential in his success as a species. Keeping plenty of cover between him and his target, the cheetah finally settled in the lengthening shadows of a knobthorn tree to plan his attack. Between him lay a no-man’s-land of short grass, affording him no cover. For some of the larger predators this would be an unassailable obstacle but this would pose no problem for the blistering speed of the cheetah.

Trained to observe for hours and wait for the perfect moment, he watched the movements and actions of the impala. His long thick tail, so important for balance and maneuverability at high speeds, twitched occasionally, the only sign of his growing excitement. Finally, the trap was set. Inching forward, low on his belly, the cheetah positioned himself, ready to strike. Like a coiled spring, toned muscles rippled as they tensed for action. We waited, breath held as we watched for their release. We knew we were about to witness something special. A cheetah in full flight in the wild is not often seen by people, especially in thick savanna vegetation such as where he had now chosen to hunt. They have to develop new hunting strategies to compensate for less room to operate at high speeds. This time the cheetah had worked the opening that nature had designed it for.

Cheetah-on-the-run

Without warning, the attack came. With incredible speed the cheetah exploded from his concealed position with acceleration that defies belief. Faster than some of the top production cars on the planet, the cheetah hit 60km/h inside 2 seconds. He was a bolt of black and gold streaking across the grass, a feat of natural engineering doing what natural selection has chosen it for. The lightweight frame, enlarged nostrils, non-retractable claws for grip all worked in perfect harmony to propel him towards his target. The impala saw him coming and fled, they themselves also aware that danger can come from any side at any moment. For an instant the cheetah looked beaten but then he hit the afterburners… With so little time to get up to speed, the impala stood no chance. Legs pumping like pistons, massive strides eating the ground beneath him, the cheetah singled out one of the ewes and employed the classic ankle tap. His over-sized dew claw clipped the impala’s back leg and sent it stumbling into the turf. Like a flash, the cheetah was on top of her, strong jaws clamped down on her neck stifling any cries that would alert other predators and cutting off oxygen to the already exhausted impala.

We watched in awe as the entire event unfolded in front of us in the blink of an eye. However, we were not the only audience to this performance. As the cheetah lay beside his prize, panting heavily, trying to get air back to his oxygen-starved limbs, 3 rhinos now approached the spectacle. With no real enemies to worry them, they approached the scene with apparent curiosity, their poor eyesight unable to resolve the situation to their satisfaction. A sighting is always magnified by having interactions between species. It lends itself to the bigger picture, rather than just witnessing individual characters go about their business. Though out gunned and facing about 2000kgs in body weight, the cheetah stood its ground, ready to defend his kill against these armoured giants. Nose to nose, with only a meter or so separating them, the cheetah stood resolute over his kill, hissing and spitting at the spectators. Seemingly perplexed by this fiery little adversary, the rhinos soon moved on no doubt chuckling at the plucky little cat’s defiance.

With the battle won and his prize defended, the cheetah settled down to a well-earned meal. With relish, his sharp teeth opened the soft flesh of the hind quarters and he began to eat, needing to replenish some of the energy expended during the hunt. But this unbelievable sighting was not over for us yet! From the tree line skulked the unmistakable figure of a spotted hyena, the cheetah’s arch nemesis. We knew instantly that all the hard work would come to nothing with the arrival of natures’ principal scavenger. Although quite capable of hunting for themselves, hyenas are brilliantly adapted to reaping the rewards of others labour. The cheetah knew that his meal was lost. He stood his ground trying to get as much nourishment as possible before the inevitable happened. In the human world we always say that death and taxes are inevitable, but I’m sure in the cheetah world, it’s death and hyenas! For a moment, we thought that the two would share the spoils but with a look that could kill, the hyena took one bite and casually dragged his plunder away. The cheetah knew it had met its match and merely watched, before turning away and continuing his unending fight for survival.

Watching this filled me with so many emotions. The excitement of witnessing my first ever kill will live long in my memory but the interactions that followed will make this unforgettable. To see just one of the 3 principle characters in this soap opera would have been special in itself but to see them all was special. Of course we were rooting for the cheetah. It is not often we see this fascinating animal and get to marvel at its abilities, but also to see its weaknesses first hand. To possess such blistering speed means sacrificing strength – a point perfectly highlighted in his decision not even to defend his kill against the more powerful hyena.

by: rika venter – bush lodge ranger

Website: www.sabisabi.com

Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges, Ranger Story – Its Never A Surprise!

It’s never a surprise to see game at Xivambelane, our staff village about one kilometre from the lodge. Unfenced, we often have an elephant drinking from our pool or lions walking past our doors.

So once again, one morning, while waiting for our staff vehicle, I had the pleasure of looking at a male bushbuck. He was eating the new grass in front of my neighbour’s room. I always marvel at how much these wild animals are at ease around us, because he was less than ten meters away from me.

A female cheetah caught my attention as she was sprinting at great speed towards the bushbuck. She might have come from the top of a termite mound about fifty meters to my left. The only object dividing us was a tree that was pushed over by elephants a couple of days ago.

She obviously never noticed me standing there, because she had kept her eyes on her prey. She seemed to be moving in on her kill exceedingly fast with head up and ears alert. Her movements reminded me of a greyhound, but with the added stealth of a cat. I had her in full sight for only a couple of seconds before she reached the bushbuck.

She did not alter her speed for a second as she yanked the buck off its legs and on its rear with her paw. It almost seemed as if they fell together, but she rammed him in mid-air, with force, into my neighbour’s door.

The loud bang drowned out the sound of her ferocious growl and the agonizing bleat of the buck for only a moment. In one movement was she on top of him, pinning the struggling buck down with both claws and chest while lunging for his throat. She somehow ended up behind the buck, with her death hold secured, still pinning him down. His flailing hoofs did not help him escape from such a vice like grip, even though he was almost bigger than she was.

The moment the bushbuck’s struggle has ceased, her sub adult cub, making a high pitched yapping sound, came over to join her. It was at this moment that I realized I was still standing at my open doorway. Quickly reaching over to close it, I alerted them of my presence. She started dragging her kill away, keeping it between her legs. It was a task that proved difficult for her since it was so heavy. She also kept her attention on the predator that has interrupted her kill – me.

I was a threat and even when she dragged her kill away into the long grass, she didn’t relax. They did not lose sight of where I was standing for a second, by then I was inside my room, dialling my sleeping neighbour’s numbers to have them share in my experience.

Our guides have told me that out of hundreds of studied cheetah kills, only half of them are successful and that I was extremely privileged to have experienced one of nature’s most amazing hunts. I agree with them – it was almost indescribable.

Johalien Coetzee

Receptionist – Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Read More Ranger Stories

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges, Ranger Story – Its Never A Surprise!

It’s never a surprise to see game at Xivambelane, our staff village about one kilometre from the lodge. Unfenced, we often have an elephant drinking from our pool or lions walking past our doors.

So once again, one morning, while waiting for our staff vehicle, I had the pleasure of looking at a male bushbuck. He was eating the new grass in front of my neighbour’s room. I always marvel at how much these wild animals are at ease around us, because he was less than ten meters away from me.

A female cheetah caught my attention as she was sprinting at great speed towards the bushbuck. She might have come from the top of a termite mound about fifty meters to my left. The only object dividing us was a tree that was pushed over by elephants a couple of days ago.

She obviously never noticed me standing there, because she had kept her eyes on her prey. She seemed to be moving in on her kill exceedingly fast with head up and ears alert. Her movements reminded me of a greyhound, but with the added stealth of a cat. I had her in full sight for only a couple of seconds before she reached the bushbuck.

She did not alter her speed for a second as she yanked the buck off its legs and on its rear with her paw. It almost seemed as if they fell together, but she rammed him in mid-air, with force, into my neighbour’s door.

The loud bang drowned out the sound of her ferocious growl and the agonizing bleat of the buck for only a moment. In one movement was she on top of him, pinning the struggling buck down with both claws and chest while lunging for his throat. She somehow ended up behind the buck, with her death hold secured, still pinning him down. His flailing hoofs did not help him escape from such a vice like grip, even though he was almost bigger than she was.

The moment the bushbuck’s struggle has ceased, her sub adult cub, making a high pitched yapping sound, came over to join her. It was at this moment that I realized I was still standing at my open doorway. Quickly reaching over to close it, I alerted them of my presence. She started dragging her kill away, keeping it between her legs. It was a task that proved difficult for her since it was so heavy. She also kept her attention on the predator that has interrupted her kill – me.

I was a threat and even when she dragged her kill away into the long grass, she didn’t relax. They did not lose sight of where I was standing for a second, by then I was inside my room, dialling my sleeping neighbour’s numbers to have them share in my experience.

Our guides have told me that out of hundreds of studied cheetah kills, only half of them are successful and that I was extremely privileged to have experienced one of nature’s most amazing hunts. I agree with them – it was almost indescribable.

Johalien Coetzee

Receptionist – Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Read More Ranger Stories

Website: www.sabisabi.com


View Larger Map