A close en­counter

RISKSA Magazine - - Travel -

I don’t like caged any­thing when it comes to wild an­i­mals. It is for this rea­son – and with their whole-hearted sup­port – that my chil­dren do not go to cir­cuses. So when I learned that we were to ac­tu­ally ride on the ele­phants I was a lit­tle scep­ti­cal. We lis­tened to the guides’ pre­am­ble about how the an­i­mals were never beaten or tied up and how they were only ‘pos­i­tively re­in­forced’ dur­ing train­ing. The sec­ond I got up close and per­sonal to Jab­u­lani, now a strap­ping big male ele­phant, and he made eye con­tact with me I felt an in­stant con­nec­tion. There was such in­tel­li­gence be­hind his lan­guid brown eyes and the quizzi­cal look he gave me kind of said, “So what are you do­ing here buddy?”. The ease with which the ele­phants al­lowed us to climb atop their backs, the way the han­dlers had to ut­ter no more than a softly spo­ken word to get the ele­phants to move into po­si­tion and the com­plete lack of any kind of in­stru­ment to beat or force the ele­phants into com­pli­ance soon had me con­vinced that this herd had never been mis­treated. We set out into the bush on the backs of these ma­jes­tic an­i­mals, and with the ad­van­tage of the el­e­vated view be­gan to en­joy a very dif­fer­ent kind of game drive. The ele­phants in their nat­u­ral habi­tat al­lowed us to en­joy closer en­coun­ters with game who were not at all con­cerned with the close prox­im­ity of the ele­phants. This sun­set sa­fari was truly a one-of-a-kind ex­pe­ri­ence as the Jab­u­lani Camp of­fers the only night sa­fari on ele­phant back in the world. The next morn­ing we awoke to the sound of a lions roar so close it could have been from in­side our lapa. With our hearts still rac­ing we set out in the Land Rover game viewer in search of the preda­tor and not far down the dusty paths we came across three male lions sun­ning them­selves on the al­ready warm sand road.

Trav­el­ling

Driv­ing

Fly­ing Our guide stopped the Landy a lit­tle way up the road, and we watched the trio lan­guidly com­ing to their feet and start mov­ing past us, close enough to touch. And then sud­denly we saw it. A few hun­dred me­tres down the road the rump of a wa­ter­buck was stick­ing out into the track. The lions had seen it too. Well, two of the lions. The third col­lapsed lazily, very close to our car, as though the walk up the road to the wa­ter­buck was all a bit much for him so early in the morn­ing. He wasn’t there long, how­ever, when we spot­ted some move­ment to our right. An adult warthog emerged from the bush with her baby, clearly un­der the im­pres­sion that the coast was clear. The warthog and the lion locked eyes and at that mo­ment the de­ci­sion was made: she made a run for it – leav­ing her baby, and a cloud of dust, be­hind. But the baby lived to see an­other day as the lion chose in­stead to pur­sue the mother. We all grabbed our cam­eras and all but fell out of the viewer to fol­low the ac­tion, but the lion’s heart just wasn’t into it. After run­ning a few me­tres with a lop­ing, lazy stride he gave up the chase. After all that com­mo­tion, we were more than ready for break­fast and were es­corted to a din­ing setup in the mid­dle of the bush, some­thing you don’t get to see ev­ery day. A chef stand­ing at a bush kitchen rus­tled up a hearty break­fast for us, with a ri­fle strate­gi­cally placed against his prep ta­ble. The 1 866km drive from Cape Town to the Ka­pama Pri­vate Game Re­serve will take 17 hours and 16 min­utes via the N1, pro­vided there’s no traf­fic. This route is tolled. The 495km jour­ney from Johannesburg to Ka­pama Pri­vate Game Re­serve is a du­ra­tion of five hours and nine min­utes via the N12 pro­vided there’s no traf­fic. This route is tolled. CPT to HDS week­end round trip for a sin­gle adult will cost from R5 500 on SA Air­link Non- stop flight du­ra­tion: 2hr 40min JHB to HDS week­end round trip for a sin­gle adult will cost from R4 380 Non- stop flight du­ra­tion: 1hr 5min

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