In May we ran our 9th safari for the South Australian Zoo Volunteers, friends and associates, this time with 18 wonderful participants, a big group by our standards! The itinerary was based on maximizing the safari experience, and to this end we included 11 nights in the Kruger National Park (from Mopani all the way down to Berg-en-Dal, thus covering two thirds of the park) and 4 nights at Idube Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. This added up to a lot of time out in the field looking for animals!
Kruger National Park:
Conditions in the Kruger were green and reasonably wet (no rain but quite a bit of surface water) for the most part, which added up to tough (but typical for the time of year) game viewing conditions. Although, by the time we left the Kruger, we had on paper seen the Big Five plus Wild Dog and Cheetah, in reality we struggled with the predators a bit – nice Wild Dogs on the first afternoon, and a few Lion sightings in between, but the Leopard component comprised only two brief sightings, and we had only one Cheetah sighting (2/5 visuals). Still, this does not mean that it was not a good experience, for we saw plenty of Elephant and Buffalo, and the White Rhino sightings were particularly good (we got stuck on the wrong side of a crash of 10 Rhino for about half-an-hour on one occasion), and of course we had plenty of plains game and birds etc to keep us occupied. Still, by the time we got to Idube the ‘old hands’ and the guides at least were desperate for some cats…
Idube / Sabi Sand Game Reserve:
Idube didn’t disappoint either: the opening afternoon drive in the pouring rain produced two Leopard sightings, the occupants of one of our three Idube vehicles seeing one Leopard kill a Scrub Hare at very close quarters. By the end of our stay at Idube we had collectively seen around 8 different Leopards, plus some good Lion sightings and, on the final drive, a fine male Cheetah with a fresh Impala kill.
So all in all it was a great tour, which ran seamlessly from start to finish thanks to solid planning and organisation (and a bit of luck). Thanks to Kevin Folland for organising things on the Australian end, and more importantly getting the 17 participants together – setting up a safari is relatively easy, getting the ‘bums in seats’ is the hard part! Thanks also to all the staff at Idube and to Doug and John of Outdoor Dining for the catering in the Kruger. Here are a few images from this most recent trip, and we look forward to our two SA Zoo Volunteers’ safaris in 2019!