South Africa – The Safari – Part 1

A few months ago I got back from a trip that changed how I see the world! I haven’t written about it before, because I think that writing about it somehow symbolized the end of my love affair with South Africa…but it’s time to put it all out there! SO – South Africa – Where do I begin?  Some of the places I go, I leave a part of me… South Africa freaking stole a part of me. Just the things that we saw and did on our trip I felt are once in a lifetime.

For this first portion of the trip we used Touring South Africa for our safari and tour – our guide, Riana was AMAZING. She knew everything about the country, culture, animals, etc. and was able to answer essentially any questions we had. If you do a safari – I think that having a guide is so important! There was so much she did to make sure we had a great time – she even cooked us a meal! Ok. I could go on about her for a long time, but let’s get into it, shall we??!!

We started out at Blyde River Canyon on the Panoramic Route- these pictures absolutely do not do it justice! I can only imagine what it would look like during warmer months! 2015-01-19_00172015-01-19_00182015-01-19_0016This magical place is called Bourke’s Potholes! You’ll see why in the next few images! 2015-01-19_00192015-01-19_0021There were many, many school field trips there at the same time we were! All the kids LOVED having their pictures taken, and especially wanted pictures taken with us! So sweet! 2015-01-19_0020Baboon spotting! These guys were all over the canyon! 2015-01-19_0022South African Cows do NOT care about standing in the road. Even trying to get around them – they would walk towards the vehicle! 2015-01-19_00252015-01-19_0024Our guide told us that they plant trees in perfect rows so they are easier to count and keep track of – hello genius idea!2015-01-19_0023These hippos were our first big spotting at Kruger National Park! Every time we spotted a new animal it was this new level of excitement! 2015-01-19_0026Our first Elephant spotting – it was a little far away, but it was so majestic! 2015-01-19_0027This little guy was a teen. He was trying to cross the road but didn’t like the cars in his way! He actually charged towards our vehicle a few times – it was intense, but he made it! 2015-01-19_0031This Kudu was straight up posing for me!2015-01-19_00302015-01-19_00292015-01-19_0028Wouldn’t you really like to be one of these hippos right about now? I know I sure would! 2015-01-19_0032This was one of those defining moments  where we felt so lucky to be on this trip! We came across this leopard who had just hunted an impala and dragged it up the tree to save it for later. Our guide (who has been doing this for years upon years) said she had never happened upon that before and was so excited for us to be seeing it on our safari! Especially since it was so close to sunset and we had to be getting back to the lodge for the night! 2015-01-19_00372015-01-19_00362015-01-19_00352015-01-19_00342015-01-19_00332015-01-19_00392015-01-19_0043A real life hyena! 2015-01-19_00422015-01-19_00412015-01-19_0040We spotted some Rhino’s early in the morning! 2015-01-19_00442015-01-19_0049 Some Buffalo for your viewing pleasure! 2015-01-19_00452015-01-19_00502015-01-19_0055We made our way to the Tshkudu Lodge and did an open air safari. When our guide helped us find the lions – our last of the big 5 – it was an epic moment. I almost jumped out of my skin from excitement! There we were in an open vehicle, about 20 feet from a pack of lions! Eeep! So SO cool! 2015-01-19_00542015-01-19_00532015-01-19_00522015-01-19_0051We finished off the night with a beautiful sunset and an alligator! 2015-01-19_0056The next morning we did a bush walk and our last safari drive and saw some giraffes and zebras hanging out! 2015-01-19_0061COOLEST EXPERIENCE EVER:  We got to walk with and pet cheetahs. They are wild, but tamed to humans. So right before we “met” them, they had just killed an impala and eaten it. You will notice some blood on their faces…yikes! Definitely cool, but scary! 2015-01-19_00602015-01-19_00592015-01-19_0058So…here I am petting the cheetahs – the smile on my face is real, but I was shaking on the inside, too! One of the best moments!Petting a cheetah in South AfricaThe saddest hippo….he was all alone2015-01-19_0057And that concludes the first 4 days of our trip to South Africa! It was amazing and more than I could have imagined! Come back next week to see our time in Cape Town! -Abby

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