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First Time on Safari - Notten's and Idube


TravelinTeacherAU

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Tom Kellie

~ @@TravelinTeacherAU

 

The faceoff between the hyenas and lions — terrific!

The easygoing cheetah sighting — WOW!

What a safari !!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for writing about your experience in such an engaging way, with excellent photos.

Tom K.

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My wife and I took our first safari this summer to the country of South Africa.   We visited the Sabi Sands reserve, located just outside the Kruger National Park. In preparing for our trip, I have

Our first full day at Notten's was wonderful. We woke up early for homemade hot chocolate and rusks before piling into the vehicle. The hot water bottles provided for the game drive kept us nice and w

Around 3:30 p.m., we headed out on our evening game drive.   We were on the hunt for lions this afternoon, but we saw lots of plains game on the drive, including a herd of impala running at full bl

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TravelinTeacherAU

In just two game drives, Idube had delivered more than I could have ever imagined. At this point, everything was gravy!

 

As we went out on the afternoon drive, I honestly expected that we would have a bit of a let down in energy. I thought, "We've seen so much! Surely, this will be the drive where we spend most of our time discussing dung beetles." And honestly, that was ok with me! I was so satisfied with our experience that I was ready to see and learn whatever Matt wanted to show us. Basically, I was ready for and expecting a low-key drive. Needless to say, I was wrong!

 

We started our drive by checking in on the lion pride from the morning.

 

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They nuzzled a bit...

 

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...before moving on.

 

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We continued on our afternoon drive, spotting a gorgeous kudu...

 

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..and a giraffe.

 

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We were heading back toward camp, happy with our drive, when our tracker yelled "Cheetah!"

 

I couldn't believe it. Were we really going to see two cheetah in one day? The only problem was, I couldn't find the cheetah. Our tracker pointed into the woods, and far off the road, I could barely see a cheetah ambling through the forest.

 

This cheetah was simply walking--he was not hunting or stalking. Until...something surprised him. He--honest to God--just happened upon a steenbock, which had been frozen in hiding. In a burst, the cheetah took off! I actually got to see a cheetah be a cheetah! I saw the burst, and I saw him dart off into the forest! Unfortunately, I didn't get any good photos or video of the chase (which was pretty short). It was all too quick and unexpected. One of our car-mates, a 12 year old who was videoing EVERYTHING was able to catch the chase on his camera! It's on Facebook, but I haven't found it on YouTube yet. If I get this video, I will definitely upload it!

 

Anyway...we took the car off-road and found the cheetah, triumphant but exhausted with his kill! This was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen!

 

Here's the cheetah, still panting heavily, right after catching the steenbock.

 

 

 

After a significant cool-down period, the cheetah began to eat.

 

 

We were all nervous that something would come and steal the cheetah's kill. We could hear hyena in the distance. Our guides were very good about giving the cheetah plenty of space so that it could check for danger. After a few minutes, the cheetah moved the kill to another spot a few feet away.

 

 

What happened next was an awesome, but heartbreaking moment. The cheetah simply couldn't eat fast enough to protect its meal from other animals. About 20 minutes after the kill, we spotted a leopard marching confidently towards the cheetah. Our cheetah had plenty of room to see the leopard, and made the decision to flee rather than fight. While it was hard to see the delicate cheetah lose a meal, we were glad that we didn't have to watch a leopard attempt to kill a cheetah.

 

 

Now, the leopard was in charge of the scene. The leopard began eating right away. I laughed watching the way it removed the hair from the steenbock, spitting out hairballs. In this video, you can hear the hyena calling in the distance.

 

 

The leopard moved the kill into a more covered brush area.

 

 

As night fell, we watched the leopard begin to eat. This video was taken on my DSLR, and the others were taken on my iPhone. It simply became too dark for the iPhone to take video.

 

 

 

This was, by far, the coolest animal interaction I've ever seen in the wild: A cheetah kill -> a cheetah meal -> a leopard steal -> a leopard meal. I was ecstatic, and couldn't believe our luck. What a cool experience!

 

 

Cheetah with steenbock

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Wary

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A touch of blood on the cheek

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Stolen

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Intensity

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Carrying Away the Kill

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For the second night, we drove back to camp simply in awe of what we had gotten to experience. The sunset seemed to join in our celebration.

 

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Edited by TravelinTeacherAU
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TravelinTeacherAU

~ @@TravelinTeacherAU

 

The faceoff between the hyenas and lions — terrific!

The easygoing cheetah sighting — WOW!

What a safari !!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for writing about your experience in such an engaging way, with excellent photos.

Tom K.

 

Tom,

 

Thanks for the kind words. There are so many wonderful photographers here (including you!) that I was a bit nervous about sharing my images. I'm very much an enthusiastic amateur, and this was my first safari. I've been hard on myself about shots that I missed---either because something was out of focus, or cut out of the frame.

 

It makes me feel good to know that the pictures are enjoyable for others to look at. Thanks for your kindness!

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Tom Kellie

Tom,

 

Thanks for the kind words. There are so many wonderful photographers here (including you!) that I was a bit nervous about sharing my images. I'm very much an enthusiastic amateur, and this was my first safari. I've been hard on myself about shots that I missed---either because something was out of focus, or cut out of the frame.

 

It makes me feel good to know that the pictures are enjoyable for others to look at. Thanks for your kindness!

 

~ @@TravelinTeacherAU

 

In the most emphatic terms please accept my gratitude for your top-of-the-line trip report!

By that, I mean both the photographs and the commentary.

After having read through literally dozens and dozens of trip reports, I'm as favorably impressed by yours as by any I've read.

It's not kindness, but rather pure delight at the passion you bring to description of your experiences.

The intertwined images and verbal emphases sets your trip report at a high level, as it vividly conveys a remarkable experience.

All game drives are unique in their own way. All safaris are unlike others. All Safaritalk members bring their own unique perspectives.

By all means, you've mastered the fine art of expressing the ineffable, using both finely honed language and well-timed images.

As yet another enthusiastic amateur, I'm delighted to read your trip report, hoping that your next safari will be sooner rather than later!

With Heartiest Appreciation,

Tom K.

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TravelinTeacherAU

This is really working out for you. Great sightings. Looks like you made some good choices.

 

That leopard really is a handsome boy and two together is special. Was it perhaps his sister? Anyway, just great to be ther and wonder about that kind of thing. Magic.

 

@@pault Our guide seemed to indicate that they were not brother/sister. It was very interesting to watch them interact at a distance. They were mutually cautious.

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TravelinTeacherAU

I agree with you that Sabi Sands is a great first-timers' safari. You've never been to Africa, you're not sure what to expect, but with so much invested in the trip, you want to see as much as possible.

 

Sabi Sands has a well-earned reputation for being able to produce reliable sightings of many of Africa's most notable mammals within the comfort of a well-established Safari infrastructure. And so, on your very first game drive, you had rhino, leopard and spotted hyena with leftovers, all followed by great food and drink in front of a roaring fire. I've certainly had worse days than that!

 

Thanks for posting, and I look forward to following you through the end of your trip.

 

@@Alexander33 Thanks for your comments!

 

Sabi Sands was great for our first safari. I have no need for luxury, but I really appreciated having reliable sightings of animals that were not usually skittish (black rhino excluded).

 

Our guide at Idube was so wonderful that I feel like I better understand what SafariTalkers mean when they talk about the importance of a great guide. In the future, I will be looking for great guiding and game viewing above all. Luckily, SafariTalk is a wonderful resource for this kind of information!

Edited by TravelinTeacherAU
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TravelinTeacherAU

Wow! Great sightings, I hope we'll be as lucky as you were. And thanks for the bird pictures, too :)

 

@@xyz99 Thanks! You are going to love Notten's. It just has the perfect vibe. I love that place, and wish I was back now!

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TravelinTeacherAU

Sorting through my videos, I found one of the hyena/lion stand-off. It's so funny because they hyenas would really work themselves up to "stand up" to the lion, but then they'd back off easily when the lion advanced.

 

Edited by TravelinTeacherAU
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Wow! Great sightings, I hope we'll be as lucky as you were. And thanks for the bird pictures, too :)

 

@@xyz99 Thanks! You are going to love Notten's. It just has the perfect vibe. I love that place, and wish I was back now!

 

 

Thanks for saying that - I recently read a few not so great reviews of Notten's, and I am a little bit worried that our first safari experience will not be everything we are expecting it to be. Hope we'll get a good guide...

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SafariChick

@@TravelinTeacherAU wow, that leopard sighting sounds amazing and I love how you described the fact that you love knowing that somewhere there are leopards dancing together in the forest - I feel that way too, I love knowing that there is wilderness and that there are these beautiful animals going about their lives out there.

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Tom Kellie

@@TravelinTeacherAU wow, that leopard sighting sounds amazing and I love how you described the fact that you love knowing that somewhere there are leopards dancing together in the forest - I feel that way too, I love knowing that there is wilderness and that there are these beautiful animals going about their lives out there.

 

~ @@SafariChick

 

Amen to what you've so eloquently expressed!

Count me as another who feels exactly as you do.

Thanks for writing that to @@TravelinTeacherAU, whose trip report is such a joy to read.

Tom K.

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TravelinTeacherAU

Less than 20 minutes into our morning game drive, we saw a leopard atop a termite mound.

 

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Our guide explained that a family of warthogs lived in this termite mound. Evidently, the leopard had trapped the warthogs and was now waiting them out in hopes of an easy meal.

 

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We could occasionally hear the warthogs in the mound. We were sure we were going to witness another kill, so we waited with the leopard as the sun rose.

 

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Eventually, we realized that this stand-off was going to last for a while. We drove away in search of other game, but checked back in on the leopard throughout the day.

 

Ironically, one of the animals we found while on the morning drive was a warthog!

 

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We also came across a truly gigantic bull elephant.

 

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The rest of the morning was relatively quiet, so we went back to camp. As we passed by the termite mound, we saw the the leopard was still there, in the heat of the morning, waiting out the warthog!

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TravelinTeacherAU

After breakfast, our guide Matt offered to take us out again to see if the leopard had any success with the warthog. This is just one example of what a great guide he was. He knew we were interested in seeing if the leopard would make a kill, so he was happy to alter the camp schedule to spend more time out in the bush.

 

While we never saw the leopard make a kill (he was still waiting on the warthogs when night fell), we did get rewarded for our mid-day excursion. We were lucky enough to see a group of elephants going down to the waterhole to drink.

 

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Hilariously, one of the elephants began to push another elephant into the water!

 

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The elephants then proceeded to play for the next 20 minutes! It was such a treat to watch!

 

See the hippos in the background!

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This was a great experience that really let us feel the joy of the elephants. They were simply playing together, and it was awesome to be there. If we hadn't been out in the heat of the day, we would have missed this show. I'm very thankful that our guide was willing to take us out at this time. What a treat!

 

Listen to them!

 

 

How cool!

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TravelinTeacherAU

Our final game drive at Idube was bittersweet. We wanted to look and soak everything in because we didn't want our safari to be over. Matt told us that we were going to one of the far corners of the traverse to see something we hand't seen. I honestly couldn't imagine what we had not seen, but I was excited to find out.

 

It was a long drive, but we saw lots along the way.

 

We saw a wonderful white rhino. Look at that horn!

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I think this is a female waterbuck?

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We also saw some monkeys, but I wasn't quick enough to capture them on camera. Honestly, at this point, I was trying to just put the camera down and enjoy our final drive. We saw some gorgeous kudu with a beautiful rack of horns, but I just enjoyed the view.

 

We drove north from Idube, crossing the Sand River. Across the field, we saw a family of elephants walking in line, lit by the setting sun. It was a gorgeous and peaceful moment.

 

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Finally, we arrived at our destination. We drove off-road and found a group of lions sleeping in the brush. However, these weren't just lions. These were...

 

Lion

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Cubs

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This was an amazing end to our time at Idube. I can't believe all of the wildlife that we were able to see in such a short time. I enjoyed every part of our trip to South Africa, but the game viewing and guiding at Idube were spectacular. I would go back in a heartbeat, though I plan to do other parts of Africa before returning to Sabi Sands.

 

 

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@@TravelinTeacherAU That is a bushbuck.

 

Great experience with the leopard.... great patience and bad luck for the warthogs.

Edited by pault
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Sangeeta

I've also seen a leopard try & ambush a warthog from atop its burrow just like that. What a great set of sightings. Your choice of camps came through in spades for you!

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michael-ibk

Fantastic sightings, the Cheetah-Leopard sequence is very special, as are the "dancing leopards". Sabi Sands delivered in spades for you. Really enjoyed this report, thank you for the videos too, the eles in the water are great fun. So, obviously, you´ve got Safari fever badly by now, when are you going back? :)

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madaboutcheetah

So glad your first safari gave you so many memorable sightings - that Cheetah-Leopard sequence is obviously one for the ages!

Wow - the Sabi Sands always comes up trumps with Leopard sightings and so glad that you are likely bitten by that Africa bug!!!

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wilddog

The adventure continues ...............what an amazing first safari. Loving this.

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Peter Connan

What an incredible safari! I sincerely hope you don't expect to repeat this performance as it is highly unlikely.

Your baby waterbuck is actually a female bushbuck.

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TravelinTeacherAU

What an incredible safari! I sincerely hope you don't expect to repeat this performance as it is highly unlikely.

 

 

@@Peter Connan I agree.

 

I can't imagine getting this lucky again. What really blew me away is that we didn't just see animals in isolation or herds of the same species. We saw several legitimately fascinating animal interactions. We saw the leopards in the forest, the hyenas and lions, the cheetah kill, the leopard steal, and then the elephants swimming. I honestly had no expectations for any of that.

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TravelinTeacherAU

Fantastic sightings, the Cheetah-Leopard sequence is very special, as are the "dancing leopards". Sabi Sands delivered in spades for you. Really enjoyed this report, thank you for the videos too, the eles in the water are great fun. So, obviously, you´ve got Safari fever badly by now, when are you going back? :)

 

Thanks @@michael-ibk !

 

 

We are school teachers, so we usually travel in the summer. We're planning on moving next summer, so our next safari will hopefully be Summer 2017. However, that seems like a loooong time to wait. :( Maybe we can fit something in on a spring break or holiday break!

 

I want to do Serengeti/Masai Mara next. My only issue is that South Africa offers such a great value for the money. Still, the SafariTalk reports from Serengeti/Mara have pretty much convinced me that it's worth the money!

 

I think one thing I've realized is that I really really really love the cats. As such, @@amybatt 's Trip Report from Kenya looks like a model I might use for a future adventure.

 

I also liked the birds more than I thought. I'm not sure what to do with this information. I don't see myself going "full birder"--I'm not into lists or checking boxes. But, I do enjoy the awesome variety of Africa's birds. I don't know where that should point me--the Caprivi Strip?

 

I also love the reports from Zimbabwe describing the thrill of a walking safari. Before our trip this summer, I thought I wanted to do Zimbabwe next. However, after South Africa, I know I want to spend more time with the big cats. I know that CAN happen on walking safaris, but I anticipate I'll see more big cats in the Mara/Serengeti area.

 

So, that's where I'm headed next--at least by 2017, but earlier if I can manage it!

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Tom Kellie

I think one thing I've realized is that I really really really love the cats. As such, @@amybatt 's Trip Report from Kenya looks like a model I might use for a future adventure.

 

I also liked the birds more than I thought. I'm not sure what to do with this information. I don't see myself going "full birder"--I'm not into lists or checking boxes. But, I do enjoy the awesome variety of Africa's birds. I don't know where that should point me--the Caprivi Strip?

 

I also love the reports from Zimbabwe describing the thrill of a walking safari. Before our trip this summer, I thought I wanted to do Zimbabwe next. However, after South Africa, I know I want to spend more time with the big cats. I know that CAN happen on walking safaris, but I anticipate I'll see more big cats in the Mara/Serengeti area.

 

~ @@TravelinTeacherAU

 

As you've read from others, your initial safari was the very essence of dreams.

Your careful advance planning, the fine staff at Notten's and Idube, and the kiss of Dame Fortune all blended to provide you with a superlative experience.

Please do pardon me for breaking into your comments to @@michael-ibk, but what you've written sparks a few thoughts.

I wouldn't dare to presume to dissent from any of what you've written, or what others have suggested.

However, if you don't mind, I'd like to toss out yet another possibility for your next safari.

Samburu National Reserve in central Kenya, northeast of Mt. Kenya.

I propose it for your consideration because in four visits there I've seen lions, leopards and cheetahs in all visits, at rather close range.

The cats there are plentiful, living in a lovely setting. It's very possible to spend ample time with them on every game drive.

Not only that, the bird variety around Samburu is remarkable — raptors, ostriches, bee-eaters, kingfishers, finches, songbirds.

Perhaps others might offer their views about Samburu. It's a rare gem which richly rewards visitors.

Given your enthusiasm, especially for cats and birds, it might be of interest to peruse trip reports of Safaritalk members who've visited Samburu.

In any case, wherever you go, it's sure that you'll have another terrific safari as you bring such an open-minded, receptive attitude.

I've continued to enjoy your trip report and the responses of you and others.

Tom K.

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TravelinTeacherAU

While in South Africa, we also spent time in Cape Town.

 

We took a shark sighting trip out of Simon's Town into False Bay. The focus of the trip was to observe natural predation--sharks eating seals. This was really fun. We would watch the seals swim out to hunt, look for one that got isolated, and then wait and see if a shark attacked. Several sharks made kills on the morning we were out there, and we had some great viewing--though it was hard to get great photos (at least for me).

 

 

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We also saw the penguins at Boulders Beach.
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And a family of baboons at Cape Point.
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We also stopped at Kirstenbosch Gardens. These were gorgeous, even in the winter.
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We loved our time in Cape Town and found the natural beauty to be stunning. There is plenty there for nature-lovers!
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TravelinTeacherAU

 

However, if you don't mind, I'd like to toss out yet another possibility for your next safari.

Samburu National Reserve in central Kenya, northeast of Mt. Kenya.

I propose it for your consideration because in four visits there I've seen lions, leopards and cheetahs in all visits, at rather close range.

The cats there are plentiful, living in a lovely setting. It's very possible to spend ample time with them on every game drive.

Not only that, the bird variety around Samburu is remarkable — raptors, ostriches, bee-eaters, kingfishers, finches, songbirds.

Perhaps others might offer their views about Samburu. It's a rare gem which richly rewards visitors.

Given your enthusiasm, especially for cats and birds, it might be of interest to peruse trip reports of Safaritalk members who've visited Samburu.

 

 

@@Tom Kellie

 

Thanks for that point-in-the-right-direction! I am always happy to read a trip report, so I look forward to focusing on some from Samburu in the near future! Thanks again for your encouragement throughout the process of writing this report!

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