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My first safari - January 2020, Ulusaba


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Toxic

Hello all

 

This is not a recent trip report, but I thought I would use this as a place to share some of the photos I took on my first ever safari.  I shall warn you - it was quite overwhelming so these photos are not up to the quality you will have seen elsewhere on the site! I used my phone as for my first time I just wanted to experience the sight, smell etc. etc. so that's why a lot of these are in portrait mode. I'll know better next time (and probably still use the phone, just make sure to turn the phone around!)

 

In January 2020, to celebrate a milestone birthday, I went to South Africa. I started in Cape Town and did the garden route, before returning to Cape Town for a few days of rest and even more sightseeing (table mountain, Robben Island, a whole day trip of wine tasting) before heading over to Joburg to my safari. I stayed 4 nights in Ulusaba, Sabi Sands - and went down a trip down memory lane when I searched 'Ulusaba' on this site and saw that @LarsShad also visited, and had Ryan and Orange who were my guide and tracker too!  I enjoyed reading his trip report from 2019 (you can read it here).

 

As some will have read from my first few posts on these forums, I definitely caught 'the bug' after this trip and what has gotten me through the past 15 months has been the thought of my next trip and where to go. Making a lot of plans without the funds or the time to support them all :lol:  I can't remember the different days I saw things so will just use this as a photo dump. Having read many more trip reports over the past few weeks, I'll try to keep a better diary once we can finally go out into the world again.

 

When arriving, after doing a little tour of Rock Lodge where I was staying, I was asked the question - "What do you most hope to see?". I didn't want to be one of those big five people so said crocodiles... you'll have to see from the pictures if we found one.

 

Anyway, on to some pictures -

 

 

ELEPHANTS

 

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I thought this bull had the most impressive pair of tusks! We saw him alone on a number of the drives, and he was just so, so impressive. I was in awe of him.  I have a video of him having an itch on a tree, pooping at the same time, with him also being a little "excited". His tusks were not the only thing of impressive length! 

 

 

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Toxic

LEOPARD

 

I love cats, so I felt very lucky that we got to see them so many times during my 4 nights at Ulusaba. 

 

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wilddog

So far..... So very good. Thanks you for sharing it with us. Looking forward to seeing the next installment. 

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LarsS
18 hours ago, Toxic said:

it was quite overwhelming

I felt the same at Ulusaba. I tried to make a couple of safari videos there for the first time, but wasn't able to finish them. Partly because of my inexperience and total lack of confidence to talk in presence of others, but mostly because the whole experience at Ulusaba was overwhelming!

 

Orange and Ryan were the best! Would recommend them anytime. Glad you enjoyed reading my TR, I'm enjoying yours as well, so please share more. :) 

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Toxic
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, LarsS said:

Glad you enjoyed reading my TR

Your TR was very helpful in filling the gaps! I only stayed at rock lodge and only visited safari lodge for ~20 minutes for a trip to the curio shop (I bought one of the photo canvases - I loved the idea that they're taken by the guides on their drives!). So I appreciated that you had covered both. I might try safari lodge next time :-)

 

Thank you @wilddogthat is very kind :-)

 

I also forgot to mention in the leopard section, we were so blessed to see two young cubs. I had a great respect for the way they respected the animals space (no cars if mum is not around), and never more than two to a sighting.  So the first pictures here are a few more leopards (inc tiny baby if you can spot it!).  I've been following Ulusaba's sofa safari since C19 and sadly neither of the two cubs made it :(

 

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WILD DOGS

 

Now the wild dogs were an experience.   It was definitely one of the safari smells I'll never forget - always so pungent that I knew before they were visible what we were about to see!

 

There was a large pack that we saw a few times, including one night drive where they were hunting. It was a very scary experience as we had lost them due to how thick the bush was, and as we were driving down the road we almost hit the very impala they were chasing; who had darted out in front of the car; only to be followed by 7-10 dogs.  They lost the impala, but another group that same night had recalled how the impala had hid a baby under the bush and ran to distract... and it didn't work. They said the cries would stay with them forever so not sure whether we dodged a bullet not seeing the actual kill!

 

As you'll see from the picture, one of them was very curious and got very close to our jeep - and attempted to eat the tire!

 

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Some scenic shots too:

 

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Edited by Toxic
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marg

@ToxicThanks for sharing!  It is a trip you will never forget and it will not be the last one either.

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wilddog

Wilddogs on your first ever safari? @Toxic Just wonderful. What a privilege 😊

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Toxic
On 7/5/2021 at 11:42 PM, wilddog said:

Wilddogs on your first ever safari? @Toxic Just wonderful. What a privilege 😊

 

Yes! The group was very pleased. I had only read about them and how rare they were so wasn't expecting them.  I teased our guide for the rest of the trip that we needed to find a wild cat to complete the collection. He got a call on the radio on my penultimate morning drive to say a leopard had pulled a wild cat out from a hole and eaten it. Gutted!

 

LIONS

 

Little me grew up with The Lion King. I was very distressed to have a lion sighting on our first night drive... where the dominant male (who was very old, had very bad teeth so was licking and sucking the carcass) was tucking into Pumba.  

 

The lions were very well fed on my trip (I didn't witness any kills). We did see a zebra who was injured - a lot of bleeding on his knee and hobbling along. He didn't last long - the next day we heard that the lions had got him in the early hours.

 

I was very fortunate to see an attempted hunt. One lioness was slowly stalking a lone wildebeest. We stayed with her for at least an hour as she would slowly edge towards this grazing and unaware wildebeest. He started walking towards her and she lunged - but missed - and he sped off.  It was almost like he was taunting her for failing because he circled around to stare at her retreat back to the rest of her pride.  Exciting!

 

I don't think I spent as much time as I would have liked with lions, so that's definitely something I will look at rectifying on the next trip.

 

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Toxic

This next post is going to be a bit of a mix of different animals and photos.  I only got to encounter one rhino on my first safari. His name is Churchill. You will see he is a little worse for wear in the photos; battle wounds after fighting with another male over territory. He lifted his head a few times as cars approached but then went straight back to sleep.   We saw him again on my last drive, he was looking much better!

 

I wasn't really a bird person before this trip. I learned so much and about so many COOL birds - like the suicide bird whom we got to witness and the champagne bird whom we got to listen to. Hilarious!  I don't know the names of the ones in these (pixelly) photos but including for completion sake.

 

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@LarsS- I think the turtle you saw hitchhiking is still doing it to this day!! :lol:

 

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And this random cool blue tailed lizard who tried for a very long time to gain access to my room. He failed. 

 

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Kitsafari

@Toxic the first safari is always so special and full of memories, and your mobile phone captured the moments so well. 

wild dogs on the first safari? wow! 

 

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gatoratlarge

Thanks for sharing---I'd say the camera phone did a great job!  Beautiful!!!

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Toxic

After a brief real life break, I'm back to finish!  Thank you @Kitsafariand @gatoratlarge:wub:

 

We got to visit Safari Lodge for a short amount of time towards the end of my stay, and I thought this was as close as I would get to a croc this trip (they're not as easy to find in green season when the water is good):

 

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On my last night drive, we finally had the first sighting of a real croc!  She was being teased by ducks and I was almost certain she would snap and just leap out for a quick lunch. The ducks were annoying!

 

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They kept marching back and forth between the two islands, staring at the crocodile and quacking.  I have a small 10-second video of them quacking at her, but not sure how to upload.  We sat in our jeep on the small bit of land we were using as a 'bridge' for about 15 minutes watching, but she submerged and never came back.

 

There was something quite amusing (and freaky) turning around to find all these eyeballs staring at you from the other side. Amazing how they just sneak up on you!

 

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On my last morning drive just before flying back to JoBurg, we saw this: 

 

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This was as close as we could get (and this is zoomed in) - but we had seen two crocs in two days. Mission relatively accomplished. 


For those that have seen my other posts, my next safari (whenever it is we're finally able to travel from the UK without a 10 day quarantine hotel!!!) is going to try and find the animals I didn't really get to see or spend time with: rhinos and crocs (I find them so fascinating) and also I'd love to see a cheetah. There were none in the traversing area when I was there, but saw on their sofa safaris that one had entered a month or so after I had gone home.  But I enjoyed everything, and I don't think spending time watching elephants take mud baths will ever get old - no matter how many times you see them - or lions stalking, or the cackle of a hyena.

 

I learned a lot and had a great time, and it has definitely ignited a passion for these types of holidays. 

 

Fingers crossed for 2022...

 

 

 

 

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Peter Connan

Very nice report, thank you! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks @ToxicI enjoyed following this your first safari. Some excellent sightings and I also love those landscape photos.

Keep those fingers crossed for next year...

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Kitsafari
On 7/21/2021 at 3:35 AM, Toxic said:

After a brief real life break, I'm back to finish!  Thank you @Kitsafariand @gatoratlarge:wub:

 

 

On my last night drive, we finally had the first sighting of a real croc!  She was being teased by ducks and I was almost certain she would snap and just leap out for a quick lunch. The ducks were annoying! These are Egyptian geese.

 

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T

 

On my last morning drive just before flying back to JoBurg, we saw this:  Finally a real live croc!

 

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 But I enjoyed everything, and I don't think spending time watching elephants take mud baths will ever get old - no matter how many times you see them - or lions stalking, or the cackle of a hyena.

 

I learned a lot and had a great time, and it has definitely ignited a passion for these types of holidays. 

 

Fingers crossed for 2022...  so  happy you enjoyed the first safari, and all the best for 2022!!

 

 

Thanks for sharing with us your trip. i'll look forward to more TRs from you!

 

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