Game drives bring wild times under the African sky
I FOUND myself standing under the African sky on the edge of South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The air was crisp as I emerged from the lodge, half asleep but full of anticipation.
I wrapped my jacket around me and, with camera in hand, climbed aboard the four-wheel-drive safari vehicle for my first game drive. We scoured the savannah, hoping to spot one of the Big Five.
Luckily our wait was short. The vehicle stopped. Ahead of us stood a big cat. It stared at us, curious about this group of observers, watching us watching her. I was in awe of this beautiful, solitary creature. The sound of camera shutters rang out as the leopard enjoyed its exclusive photo shoot. We moved on, ready for our next sighting.
As the African sun rose above us, a pungent scent filled the air. I’d never smelt anything quite like this before. It repulsed and intrigued me. The sight of a huge animal lying still in the long grass took my breath away. An adult white rhinoceros had been brought to the ground and lay eerily still with a large wound gouged in its side.
We edged closer in the 4WD and into view came a pride of lions encircling their breakfast. We watched as the adults educated a cub in the art of dissecting their prey. This was big cats in their natural environment, the raw, uncut version.
When we returned to our lodge, we had plenty to discuss over breakfast. Already buzzing with excitement, we could hardly believe our luck when we were treated to an unexpected visit by a herd of elephants at a nearby watering hole. Could this holiday get any better?
After a much-needed return to bed and some heavenly relaxation time soaking up my luxurious African surroundings, it was time to head back out for our afternoon game drive.
We set off in search of live rhinos this time, and played a cat-and-mouse game in the thorny bushland as our tracker tried hard to lead us to a group of black rhinos who were hiding in the dense bushes. It was not to be this time, so we kept moving.
As we crossed a dusty airfield, our trackers signalled us to look to our right, where a mother cheetah and her cubs were playing in the grass. They continued playing, performing for us, as we watched them avidly.
Our day ended with sundowners, a safari tradition. As the sun set, I sipped champagne and absorbed the amazing landscape and the incredible lifechanging past 24 hours.