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First time safari! Vic falls, Makalali and Sabi Sands


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After reading and reading trip reports on here, I figured it was about time to get something on paper about ours. I will warn you in advance that it is not nearly as exciting as so many of the trips I have seen on here! And we are the point and shoot kind of amateurs so really basic pictures. But I would love to have a little report myself to be able to go back to in the future to relive our trip and I figured it wouldn't hurt for a few first timers to get some info.

This was our very first trip to Africa and first safari.
Our itinerary was the following;
3 nights Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (Zambezi Sands)
2 nights Hazyview (no safari but panorama route so I will skip this for the most part)
3 nights Garonga safari camp (Makalali game reserve)
3 nights Lion Sands River Lodge
From there we moved on to Cape Town and the Winelands but I won't go into that, this is a safari forum after all.
We knew before we left, and it's important to know this, that we weren't visiting this camp for the amazing wildlife sightings. We wanted to see the Vic Falls and we liked the idea of a few river safari activities to diversify (canoeing). If you go here with the expectation of great wildlife you will be disappointed. And that would be a shame because the people at Sambezi Sands are so great and they try to make your stay incredible.
Day 1
On the day we arrived we did a short afternoon game drive through the conservancy. It was exciting to be out and about but there wasn't all that much to see.
We did see our first Kudu :)
It was already rather late when we left for the drive due to all of our arrival times, so we stopped fairly quickly for our first sundowners with a view to a few hippo's (far far away).
As you can see on the pictures I went a bit overboard with the purchase of earthy toned and khaki colored clothes ;-) But they were great and somehow we did feel like we fit in!
We had been asked on arrival how we would prefer to have our dinners. Nadine - manager and wife of John - wanted to ensure that we enjoyed our honeymoon so she asked if we were fine with the usual setup where you have a romantic table just you the first night, then a group night and then a car + guide night. Or if we would prefer to have private dinners all the time. We thought this was very thoughtful of her and of course we loved the traditional safari set up where you mingle with all the interesting people around you!
While having drinks before our meal this evening, one of the other guides, Clint came up to all of us in the bar asking if we wanted to see a honey badger. Euhm, do we want to? Hell yeah! I had read enough trip reports to know how rare they were. We didn't see just one, we saw two! Unfortunately I came unprepared (no camera - never happened again!) and so I have no pictures, but it was nice to see! Since the animals were known in camp for stealing food from the kitchen they decided to handle the situation smartly for their guests: they would just put out a plate for them. When they came to eat, you could serve them up for the viewing of the guests. Though saying "they" came to eat was not very accurate. There was one eating and the other one had to wait because the first one was not having any of it (sharing? I don't think so). Even though it was not in the most natural of settings, I did consider it a cool sighting for the first night on the trip!
Day 2
We started this day with a walking safari. It was very hot and even though it was rain season there was not a cloud in the sky! So we started of early as always to avoid most of the heat. It was exhilarating to be walking around in Africa :) Our guide was also the lodge manager - John, husband of Nadine - and he was a wealth of information. I am sorry that i can't remember any of the names of the trees (except for sausage tree) but there was just too much to see and learn.
As we started walking we did see a big heard of buffalo (far away) and a group of baboons (they were everywhere), but the walking was more about nature, skulls, tracks and information sharing than it was about seeing any animals up close. Which I suppose is normal for a walking safari.
It was great fun and we loved it! We were also very lucky with our "car". As I said we got the senior guide and we were paired up with a wonderful couple from England (Heidi and Steve). They were just such incredibly enthusiastic, optimistic and generally happy people, it was a pleasure to be around them and we were sad when we had to say goodbye ! (the others in camp were 4 germans in a rather strange setup: mother, daughter, fiancee and friend of fiancee. They were not at all willing to mingle and unfortunately generally just very German. I'm allowed to say that since my husband is German :-) )
They really made an effort in camp to keep us entertained and busy, so they asked if we wanted to join them to go snare hunting. They had seen a few people on the "islands'" in front of the camp a day before and there was a strong suspicion that these were poachers. It was around 11:30 so the real heat of the day, but we said why not! This was maybe not the best idea :P It was a tough trek with lots of cutting bush and through water (soggy feet is just nasty), but in the end we were very happy we did it. It was an experience. And luckily there were no snares to be found so everyone was rather happy!
The afternoon was spent canoeing on the Zambezi river. It was wonderful to be on the water after the heat of the day! I had been a bit scared about this since we could see a few rapids in front of the hotel that were outside of my comfort zone, but John promised a route without them and when he said he had done this trip with a 6 month old baby I felt more at ease. I did insist on sharing the canoe with him though, just to be on the safe side. Heidi and Steve had experience rowing so they were perfectly fine in their canoe together. And my husband, Tom, got paired with another guide: Rob.
Now Rob was quite a character. He was 74 years old and had the enthusiasm of a 12 year old! He was really very endearing. He couldn't sit still for even 2min. He didn't really follow the group, rather took his own course and dragged the canoe with my husband to a crocodile he saw near the shore. It was "only a little one" though according to him (only 4m…). And he seemed to have fun communicating with the hippos around us. Now I know these are some of the most dangerous animals in Africa to man, but luckily at this point i didn't know just how dangerous yet. Our guide in Lion Sands would tell us a story that if I had heard it before would have kept me from ever stepping foot in that canoe!
The canoeing was great fun and we stopped on a cluster of rocks in the middle of the river for sun downers. There was also a little natural pool there (just a area where the current wasn't as strong) where the guys went for a swim while Rob was busy scouring for rocks. And he sweetly presented me with one in the shape of a small heart. You couldn't help but love the guy.
Of course Tom was one of the ones who wanted to do the swimming and he didn't account well for the strength of the current, so while walking over the rocks he lost his flip flops. Within an instant Rob set out with the canoe, retrieved the shoes and rowed back against the current! The man has quite some force!
It was a day well spent!
Day 3
This was our Vic Falls day. We got to sleep in and then spent the morning at the Vic Falls. Even though they were rather dry (or so we were told), it was an amazing spectacle to see! Gorgeous! I can only imagine how impressive they must be when in full force, but this was already pretty darn great.
In the afternoon we went to the Victoria Falls hotel to have High Tea. It was a rather colonial experience I must say. Not sure if this is entirely for me. There the "whites" eating/imbibing and the "blacks" respectfully serving was just a bit too much for me. It also didn't help that we had this snotty entitled volunteer with us from camp. He was rather young (20) and made it rather clear he came from a rich family in England, but what bugged me most is that he was just not very respectful to any of the locals and generally quite condescending when he talked.
Anyway, no animals to see, except for all the baboons and vervet monkeys on the Vic Falls hotel property (including also some resident wart hogs) so I'll keep this rather short!
In the evening we had drinks with John before dinner and he shared some very interesting insights in to Zimbabwe politics. I was rather blissfully ignorant before we left on our trip and I found what we learned from him very enriching.
Day 4
We had one last morning game drive and they had saved the best for last!
This day we had a wonderful interaction with a heard of elephants. We saw some of them crossing the road we were on, but the majority of the herd was still on the other side. So John took the car off road and we drove over some bush and into a clearing. From the we could see the rest of the herd and that alone got us very excited! But since this was our first safari, John knew something we didn't: they would all join up with the rest of their herd. And in order for that, they would have to pass right by us. It was exhilarating! A mom and her young came very very close, many of the other youngsters walked right by and we hadn't noticed the matriarch of the group was standing right behind our vehicle keeping an eye on us and ensuring that we didn't bother anyone.
It was our first real wildlife interaction and we left feeling very happy indeed!
One of the people that I feel is worth mentioning is our room attendant Mabonga. Before leaving on our trip, our TA had been very adamant about stealing and thefts. He really made the point very clear that even in the very upscale lodges you must be careful, put everything in the safe or take it with you. In all our excitement of course we didn't. Nothing ever got touched. But more importantly there was an event that I think deserves the highest of praise. We had divided our cash over different wallets, as we always do. Tom however had left one of his wallets in his pants which he then put in the laundry. Little did we know until John presented us with the wallet. Mabonga had recovered it from the pants and dutifully returned it to the manager. For this man there must have been a small fortune in that wallet so you can only imagine how very grateful and impressed we were with his honesty and kindness. Of course we left him a little thank you note and a finders fee, but i was really impressed!
The time had come to pack up and continue to SA! We were very sad to leave the place though. If you ever go to the Vic Falls and need a place to stay, do yourself a favor and go to Zambezi Sands, the place is amazing!
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Oh, where did my pictures go? I had attached them...


Could someone point this newbie perhaps to the thread where it is explained how to add pictures in your text? :-s

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Hi @@martywilddog


I had the same problem and @@Galana instructed me on an easy way to insert pictures -


1. With the cusor in the "Reply to this topic" box click on the "More Re[ply Options" button in the lower right corner.


2. Type in text as normal.


3. Click on the "Choose Files" button at the bottom left of the screen and select pictures to add.


4. Click on either the "Preview Post" or "add Reply" button in the lower center of the screen.

Edited by PT123
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I will try to include our pictures in the text on the next installment but I'll just add what I wanted to in a separate post here, until I get the hang of it :)



Lots of elephant interaction on our last day!



Safari clothes overdose?



An educational walking safari



First warthogs while walking



Our first zebra (many firsts :) )



I was the only silly one wearing a vest, but i figured it was one extra layer of protection from the hippo's



Vic falls were incredibly impressive!post-49653-0-33802900-1454772041_thumb.jpg




I see you! He/she was keeping a watchful eye on us.







View from our lodge!



Our first Kudu!




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After our time in Zimbabwe we moved on to SA and started in Hazyview.


We made a stop there because I wanted to do the Panorama route. We had taken a trip to the Grand Canyon before and loved that so much, we were eager to also see Bruce Canyon.


However, this part of the trip turned out to be a disappointment.


We arrived in our hotel in the early evening (around 6pm). We had booked Summerfields resort and spa on the (pushy) advice of our TA and that just didn't really work out for us. It was supposed to be a 5* deluxe lodge, and though the rooms were gorgeous, the service just didn't live up to the standard. Our welcome was rather unprofessional and lukewarm.


Anyway, we were quite tired and weren't up for much but a shower and dinner.


The restaurant though, Summerfields kitchen, is divine! We went there both nights and it was beyond delicious. For some reason they did twice give us the worst table in the place, even though they knew we were on honeymoon. So the second night I mentioned it and they immediately apologized and moved us into a more romantic corner (and not under the bright spotlight next to the service station).


Now the next day it all seemed to go wrong. Or rental was supposed to be delivered at 9am and we were ready and waiting at reception but that didn't show up until well past 10am. Reception knew we were waiting for a car to be delivered at 9 and they had gotten a call from Europecar that they were running late. But instead of letting us know while we were having breakfast they didn't say anything until we had left and so we had to wait in the reception. I would have preferred to drink my coffee in peace while waiting. A coffee which turned out to be paying! Now that just rubs me the wrong way. If a place is breakfast included, I expect a coffee is included. The fresh juice from the farm that they praised so highly was also extra! Even though it was standing on the cold buffet. Only the cold buffet was in the end included. Anything warm (eggs, pancakes) was also extra. I wasn't that hungry so only went for cold but hubby had eggs (which weren't so becoming it will turn out later).


Now the worst culprit was the weather. I know we don't control the weather so there's no point in getting upset about it, but it did mean that our day was pretty much spent seeing nothing. Since the panorama route is rather high up and a far drive it's ideal if you can't see anything! Pretty much everything was closed due to the fog. You couldn't see 1 meter in front of you… Now again, maybe that's not fair of me but I was a bit upset about this at the hotel. If you are a 5* lodge and you know the plans of your guests (we had been sitting in the reception waiting for our car long enough…) and you are aware of the weather and the fact that when there is fog it doesn't make a lot of sense, then maybe one can expect you to speak up? Two people in the evening told us: "oh we should have told you the weather was so bad you wouldn't be able to see anything". Yeah that's great, very helpful! We could have done a self drive in Kruger instead and we would had we known. i'm usually not this much of a whiner, but given how much money we had paid for this trip and that we were staying in such upscale places, i expected more.


We did get a few nice shots of the 3 rondavels and bryce canyon so not all was lost, but it was a pity!






And unfortunately as the day progressed DH started feeling worse and worse. So the second dinner I had by myself, he had to leave. Even though we had ordered for two and he had received the first starter (which he couldn't eat) they didn't charge for any of his food. Which I though was a very nice gesture. But yes, as it happens on these far away travels DH spent the night over the toilet. The next day we had to drive to our first camp and I got very worried he wouldn't be able to travel, let alone drive.


To be continued in Makalali (Garonga camp)!







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Getting to Garonga was a bit of a challenge! Even though we were only supposed to go straight (take the R40 North), we did manage to get a bit lost. But soon we were at their dirt road.


And that's were it got really tricky! Now I had asked our TA if an economy car was fine for driving in SA. He was adamant that it was more than sufficient. Well I can now say with utmost certainty that the man (TA) has never been to Garonga! A tiny little hyundai economy car is not an appropriate car to take the dirt road to get to Garonga! A drive that was supposed to take 45min took us 2 hours! I kid you not.


The pictures only give you a general idea, but this was the road:




So the whole drive took us way longer than it should have, and since the hubby was still a bit sick, it wasn't a great start.


But then we drove through the gate of the reserve and these two brothers were waiting for us on the road:



I apologize for the quality but we were sitting in our car and completely unprepared.


Now we were on safari if we could see cheetah seconds after driving through the gate! Sadly enough we ran into these guys on their way out so we didn't see them again during our stay, nor did we get to see any other cheetah. So I'm very happy we got to see these!


Needless to say that lifted our spirits and gave us renewed energy to get to camp! Hubby miraculously started feeling better :)


It took us another 45min but then we were there! At the start of our first real safari and well on time for the afternoon game drive (breathes a sigh of relief)



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Afternoon game drive


After the standard paper work we were introduced to our tracker Kaise and our guide Jeff. Jeff was a man of few words. They were very good at finding us the animals but didn't volunteer a lot of information. We actually didn't notice this so much until we went to Lion Sands in Sabi Sands where our guide was a chatter box :) I liked both!


The game drive started with Giraffe everywhere you looked when we were just minutes from camp. And we hadn't seen any in Zimbabwe so we were very excited!



We drove on and were soon surrounded by all sorts of animals: impala, zebra and a lone elephant



We liked it here already!


Then they let us know they had spotted more lion tracks! Wait, cheetah and lion all on the first day? Bring it on! We first couldn't find them so Kaise and Jeff went for a walkabout. And they were successful! They had located the lions in a gully. I felt my heart sink though looking towards where they were pointing. It was all bush. Little did I know at that point that this does not deter anyone in SA. Through we went! And there we were sitting and looking at our first pride of lions :)




I thought this fella was especially cute



It's a tough life being a lioness



After our lion encounter it was time for sundowners and then back to camp!


All in all we were very happy with this drive!






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Morning game drive


We were very excited for the morning game drive, given how great the day before was!


We went out and ran into a group of zebra



Jeff then got us our second really great elephant encounter of the trip! Our vehicle was positioned and we watched them all come by at a leisurely pace, eating along the way.





It is really humbling seeing these big giants walk straight towards you



And watching the young ones play never gets old :)



After a while we moved on to go and see some buffalo



Something we hadn't seen yet up to this point were male lions. Did anyone ask for male lion?



We saw two and they were both gorgeous! Of course they did what most male lions do and were rather lazy.



And this young guy was also growing up to be a handsome one!



So we had seen 3 out of the big 5 and were really quite happy already, when we ran into these guys



And it's really cute to watch them rubbing themselves



Soon it was time for coffee and back to camp!


What a drive :) we were ecstatic!





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In camp, things would only get better.


Most people went for a siesta in between drives but i can't really sleep during the day so I went to sit by the pool. It was a hot day and the pool looked out directly over the watering hole.


Being alone at the pool I got my very own personal safari experience as one after the other animal came to drink









I watched them all for hours :)


And then came the elephants!




I took about 200 pictures without leaving the camp!




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After the morning and day we had had I was very content already when we left on the afternoon drive.


What more could there be?


Well how about a leopard? Why not!



Unfortunately this encounter was pretty short because one of the guests in the other vehicle did what you are told a million times not to do: he stood up! So the leopard got annoyed and ran. We didn't find her/him again while at Garonga.


But we had done it. What we had hoped to see during our entire safari trip we had managed to see in 1 day. We were happy :)


We drove around more, but we hardly looked up any more to see any of the general game. So maybe a rather quiet drive, but we were exhilarated with the day on the overall!

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"As you can see on the pictures I went a bit overboard with the purchase of earthy toned and khaki colored clothes ;-) But they were great and somehow we did feel like we fit in!"

At least you did not dye your socks beige, which is what I did for my first trip.


Your photos are working now. The gentleman (in khaki :) ) could be the twin brother of a guy I know. He's Irish and close to a professional level in golfing--do the similarities extend beyond looks?


Your private waterhole safari had to be a special experience. Just you and the wildlife.


Great luck with the cheetahs. They seem to be doing well in South Africa!


I count 5 out of the 5!

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@@martywilddog love the outfits we got all kitted out for our first trip complete with even bigger hats than yours! Nobody else had such big wide brim hats! We looked very silly

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@Travelynn : we bought new beige and khaki socks too! It must be a case of random lookalikes because DH has no links to Ireland nor to golf :)


Thanks @@Towlersonsafari, DH (Tom) was skeptical of the hats at first but came around last minute. The thing never left his head :P

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Really enjoying this report, and your photos are great - don't worry. Sorry to hear the 5star lodge was a bot of a disappointment but I'm sure all was forgotten with those Cheetahs - what a lucky sighting. And they even cured your husband. Based on what you wrote before on that subject German Tom is probably not "very German"? ;-)

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Maybe DH should take up golf, he might have a hidden talent. I hope the beige socks worked well. I just saw where you revealed your husband in German. Missed that the first time. But he could be Irish too. I'm both.


"Two people in the evening told us: "oh we should have told you the weather was so bad you wouldn't be able to see anything". Yeah that's great, very helpful! We could have done a self drive in Kruger instead and we would had we known. i'm usually not this much of a whiner, but given how much money we had paid for this trip and that we were staying in such upscale places, i expected more."


That's not whining at all. I'd be annoyed as well. Part of paying a premium for accommodations is customer service and expecting the staff to anticipate basic customer needs. How would you know to ask, "Will it be too foggy to see anything?"

At least you got a few opportunities and made good use of them, as the photos show.

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Thanks @Travelynn, makes me feel less like a whiner :) And that's exactly it, the premium for me should be in the service and care you receive. Which was pretty nonexistent there.


He also has two nationalities actually, German (mother) and American (father). I guess that indeed makes him less "German" @@michael-ibk :) It also helps that he has been living and working in Brussels in a very international environment. It really does impact how you interact with people, and especially people from a different nationality. Though I have found for example all the English to be extremely friendly and open, whether working in an international environment or not.

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@@martywilddog - first off congratulations on your marriage (honeymoon straight after or did you have some time to decide if you really did like each other first :P?)


Lovely pics and words and I do appreciate the comments about your fellow safari goers - part of safari for us is meeting new people from all walks of life and from all parts of the globe. All sharing a love of all things Africa and hopefully Jamesons Irish Whiskey just to demonstrate good taste.


The eyes in that leopard pic in post #12 are amazing but shame somebody stood up and spoiled it. The elephant sighting sounds fantastic.


Looking forward to more.


Kind regards



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It's easy to lose track of timing when you have days like the one before. We had only had 1 full day at Garonga (Makalali) up to this point.


The next full day started off with a morning visit to a hyena den, in the hope of seeing the youngsters out and about. Jeff had told us where we were going and setting the expectations right he had warned us chances of seeing the adults there as well were limited. So we were very excited pulling up to this:



Nasty habits if you ask me ;-)


The adults were not shy at all and actually quite curious. They walked incredibly close to the vehicle. I think this was by far the closest we had been to a predator (though we were also pretty close to the lions - but they were just sleeping and these guys were really watching us) They kept looking at us with what I could only interpret as a questioning stare "he he, who are you?"



Definitely not the best of pictures but it caught best his/her expression as I remember it.




And the little ones I thought were rather cute :)






I was really surprised I liked hyenas this much. I guess these poor animals just got a bad reputation from a certain Disney movie, that didn't seem to be entirely warranted.


Awful quality, shot with the tiny point and shoot camera, but here you get an idea just how close he/she fearlessly walked up to our vehicle



We stayed with them for a bit until the adults trotted off and the little ones resigned themselves to a rest.


Next on the agenda was a walk to a hippo pond, but when we arrived there, these guys were passing through



They had zero interest in us and were clearly on their way to somewhere. But it was fun to watch the little ones play (though I didn't capture it very well - anyone who knows something about photography, is this cause by what you guys in the know would call too slow shutter speed?)



Beautiful sub adult male
So since a lion pride was quite obviously in the vicinity I assumed we would skip the walk to the hippo pond. Wrong again. The lions had not even left for 2 minutes when we got out of the car. Here I was a tiny bit jumpy while walking.
The hippos were doing what hippos do best: bathing
But it was nice to stretch our legs.
The morning got even better when Jeff and Kaise went out to track lions and came back saying them they had found them with a recent kill, a zebra. Here is where I truly could feel the lack of my photography skills since I couldn't for the life of me figure out how I could make the camera focus on the lion and not the leaves of the bush that she was sitting under. So these are unfortunately not very good.
Pretty gruesome picture of the zebra
It turned out the zebra was pregnant, I suppose that explains why she got caught, being big and slow.
These I couldn't take. I had to look away and hand over the camera to DH. I'm sure @@Gregor can relate.
Something I found very surprising is that nothing smelled. If i hadn't been staring at the carcas I never would have known it was there.
We saw some more general game on that drive, but the experience was clearly dominated by the lion kill.
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The in between time at camp was spent doing a tree house picnic.


I didn't really think this through though, because even though I got up the tree ladder fine, i did have to get back down. And it was straight down. Being afraid of heights like me, and pretty clumsy on top of that you can see where things could maybe go wrong.


But with the help of Tomas, a staff member at Garonga I did manage to climb back down.


This is the only pic I took and a really unflattering one, so I will apologize to DH in advance, but I did want photographic proof out there that i climbed into a tree!


As you can see, our picnic lunch was as delicious as all the other lunches we had had.


While at garonga we also did a bush bath (a bath in open air in the bush) which was a fun experience as well!


All of these things, including an optional sleep out, were complimentary. Even though we had wanted to do the sleep out we chickened out in the end. The platform was not very high up and well leopards can climb after all… Thinking back I feel sorry we didn't do it.


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It's always great to see new life!



And I could never get over how attentive giraffe's are, they can just keep staring directly at you!



Since we had new people in our car that afternoon our guide decided to head back to the lions who had just killed the zebra. We had no objections :) (and as a side note we got joined by another really nice English couple! They were in SA having attended a wedding of close friends in Franschhoek).


This time we got a chance to see one of the lionesses feeding



Here she went to dig up the liver



Which she then began to eat



After which she moved on to have a bite out of the poor little foal



Then she just started at us with this look that said "yummy"



It was all pretty gruesome and I was surprised with myself to be so fascinated by it.


We then sat with the rest of the pride for a while. But the reeds/grass unfortunately bested me again and I just didn't manage a clear shot.





It was nice to see lions bit more awake though. It was a change from their traditional flat cat pose. Though they were still just lying there.


This reminded us of our own dog's favorite pose asking for a belly rub, but we managed to resist the urge to go over and pet it (the half eaten zebra still lying just there might have had something to do with that)



On we went and we got to see another different rhino. It was funny to note that we kept a lot more distance between this guy and ourselves than the ones we had seen the day before. He was apparently a 'cranky' fellow and was known to charge the vehicles. Again a little reminder that you are in Africa and not in a zoo. Something one might quickly forget with all the wildlife in Garonga.



And next time your wife or girlfriend asks you whether this skirt/these pants/this dress makes her but look big, just show her this picture ;-)


Edited by martywilddog
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It was hard the next morning when it really hit us that we were leaving Garonga that day. This was to be our last (morning) drive.


Unfortunately the weather had turned for the worse and you could feel that when it came to wildlife sightings. But we had been spoilt before.


I thought this picture well captured SA and more specifically Garonga for us



We did manage to see a Jackal, which was an animal we hadn't seen before. He was of course eyeing the zebra carcas. He was quick though, too quick really for my camera skills



This is what was left of that



The lions were full and content



You can see how spoiled we had been when a close up lion encounter wasn't getting us as excited anymore :)


Since nothing much else was showing itself, Jeff suggested we walk back to camp from the spot where we had coffee. It was pretty special to be guided back to camp by these giants



It definitely gives you a different perspective seeing them next to you while walking!


What a wonderful stay we had at Garonga! I literally cried when we left. I was so overwhelmed by the experience!


The animal sightings were amazing, but also the staff was incredible. Special thanks go out to the wait staff that went out of their way to serve you. Thanks a million Robert and Gabonga!

Edited by martywilddog
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Leaving Garonga also meant going back over this road



Here I did what I had been warned many times not to do: I got out of the car. The cheetah memory being far far in my mind, i just had to get out of the car several times to move rocks off the road. Otherwise we would not have a car anymore… DH decided in all his wisdom that as co-pilot and navigator this was a task for me.


And again our self drive experience wasn't so great. First of all we were already frustrated after having spent again 2h on this dirt road and second of all we had a very typical and frustrating encounter with the South African police. Now I know I have issues with letting things go. I would probably be a happier person if I didn't dwell on these things. But i just get so frustrated to be extorted by exactly those people that have been sworn to protect you!


We had been warned to carefully stick to the speed limit. Numerous times. So as co-pilot i was incredibly attentive to the speed we were going. Never, not once, not for a 100m did we speed (not even when we were about to miss our flight - because that would have been a sure way of missing it!). Nonetheless we got pulled over for "speeding". No one else, just us. And it was complete bullshit! (excuse the language). We were not speeding!


This just seriously pissed me off. And DH in all his wisdom and kindness just isn't vocal enough to my liking in these kinds of situations. Bit I suppose it wouldn't have helped our cause if both of us got thrown in jail for (I quote) : "interfering" (since when is that a crime?) and for "making false accusations" (well they're not false if they are true). Maybe I shouldn't have started the conversation with "you just want to extort money from us". But it was clearly the case!


Proof of that came rather quickly. They had a "radar/camera" set up and it said we were driving 102km/h. That was the biggest load of bull ever since we were stuck behind a local "tuk tuk" taxi that had just pulled out after picking up new passengers. If anything they should have pulled us over for going 60 in an 80 zone.


Whatever, the comment we got from the woman when we said this wasn't true was "you can contest the evidence on your court date on the 7th of april". I don't know where she got that date from but it was out of her even faster than i accused them of being corrupt.


As the flyer in our travel documents had clearly instructed us to do we insisted that we were going to a police station and were not paying anything there. So all 3 took forever filling out some bogus form, then took forever getting the camera back into the car, and then took forever in driving to this police station. All the way there the worry was building inside of us how much money they would be asking for. It had been on our agenda to stop at the next ATM, we only had 600 rand left (about 35 euros).


After driving for 20min they finally pull into a police station. DH wisely decided that I should wait in the car as he was not so keen to spend the night in jail thanks to my big mouth. So in he went. It was rather ironic he said that the whole place was covered with posters advocating "ethical police behavior" and "anti corruption". Right.


When he came back out minutes later I asked him the dreaded question: "how much?"


200 rand. All of this for 200 rand??? We had just waisted one and a half hours of precious safari and honeymoon time for 10 euros???


So perhaps don't do as the flyer says next time and just pay them directly. Because pay you will, one way or another...


Though interestingly enough, our guide at Lion Sands told us later that day (yes I have told this story numerous times - did I mention this "letting things go" thing?) that if we had asked how much it was on the road they would have taken us for as much as 2.500 rand. That only the added peer pressure of the station kept them from that.


Another guy in our vehicle (a south african) mentioned that you are supposed to subtly hand over 100 rand with your drivers license when being pulled over. Then you can continue.


Anyway, a few hours more and there we were! And again a few animals welcomed us in before we even reached camp


Look how tiny he was! He could still fit underneath her!


Mom got a bit protective so we decided to make our way to camp








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