Wild and won­der­ful in Africa

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - GE­OFF MOR­TON BUD­DINA, QUEENS­LAND

My wife and I have re­cently re­turned from a one-month trip to south­ern Africa, with most of our time spent in South Africa. We ap­proached the trip with some trep­i­da­tion, as it was our first time in that part of the world and we had heard sto­ries about the pos­si­ble dan­gers. Our con­cerns were to­tally un­founded and we were treated to such a range of unique ex­pe­ri­ences that our minds are still in over­load.

How ex­cit­ing it was to see all the big five (lion, leop­ard, ele­phant, buf­falo and rhi­noc­eros) in Kruger Na­tional Park, as well as the fas­ci­nat­ing range of unique bird life. We were treated to the spec­ta­cle of a young li­on­ess leav­ing her pride to stalk a ju­ve­nile hippo on the bank of the Sa­bie River. The li­on­ess pounced on and rolled the hippo but it man­aged to rise and head for the water, leav­ing the li­on­ess stand­ing on the bank look­ing hope­fully at the water below be­fore re­treat­ing to her fam­ily.

Cape Town did not dis­ap­point us, pro­vid­ing a won­der- fully clear and calm day to take the ca­ble car to the top of Ta­ble Moun­tain to en­joy the breath­tak­ing views, be­fore de­scend­ing and sam­pling won­der­ful wines and cheeses at a nearby win­ery. We stayed at a de­light­ful B & B in Si­mon’s Town where our hosts en­cour­aged us to ex­pe­ri­ence “Walking with the Lions” when we vis­ited Vic­to­ria Falls in Zim­babwe. We were so glad we took this ad­vice; the walk (on a pri­vate es­tate, which gives par­tic­i­pants a strictly su­per­vised op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with two or three cubs) af­forded us a very dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on th­ese en­dan­gered and won­der­ful an­i­mals.

Friends also ad­vised us to visit the Chobe Na­tional Park in Botswana, and this pro­vided us with yet an­other per­spec­tive of life in south­ern Africa. We had many an op­por­tu­nity to ob­serve wild an­i­mal be­hav­iour in­clud­ing watch­ing an ele­phant swim across the Chobe River, and track­ing a mother hippo with her one-week-old baby. We are richer for th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In future we in­tend to visit South Africa on the way to Europe. In my opin­ion, there is lots more to see and do there than the more con­ven­tional stopovers. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists re­ceive L’Oc­c­i­tane his-and-her treats of f Ce­drat Af­ter­Shave Cream Gel with notes of berg­amot, nut­meg and cedar; and a lim­ited edi­tion Rose Shea Hand­cream re­leased to mark L’Oc­c­i­tane’s 40th an­niver­sary this year; $82. More: au.loc­c­i­tane.com.

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