Robert and I just spent six days on safari in the greater Kruger region, along with our friends Andy and Megan. We booked with a company called Moriti (www.moriti.co.za), and it was amazing. Our guide William was a great guy and very knowledgeable. We would recommend Moriti (and William) without reservation and are already scheming about how to get back here and take one of their other safaris. In fact, although we always said an African safari would be a once in a lifetime experience, I strongly suspect it won’t be…
We spent the first three days at a private park called Tshukudu, which abuts Kruger. There is a fence around the park, but we were told it doesn’t stop the animals that really want to get in (or out). Tshukudu has a small feel of a zoo about it, because some of the animals are so used to the jeeps that they don’t seem at all bothered, but the majority of the animals are, in fact, truly wild. And, it was a great place to get up close to the animals and take amazing photos.
After three nights at Tshukudu, we made our way to another private lodge called Nyeleti in the Klaserie which abuts Kruger but without a fence. Our lodge was amazing — a five star experience and completely private so the four of us were the only guests. Lindsey the chef kept us so well-fed we might not have to eat for days….Every time we turned around there was more food….This park was significantly larger than Tshukudu and the animals were significantly less used to vehicles so the viewing was not quite as up close and personal. The trade-off, however, was the size of the herds.
There were so many highlights during our safaris that I really don’t know where to begin. But, here are a few of our favorite experiences (in no particular order):
- Randomly stumbling upon three lions on their way to the local watering hole as we were returning to camp one night. We backed the jeep up and got parked right in front of the watering hole in time to see them arrive. And we heard — yes heard — them lap up the water. It was two females and a male. The ranger thought they might have been related, but the male lion was thinking about getting frisky with the female.
- Meeting Becky the elephant. One of our rangers had grown up with Becky and known her for 28 years. She came right over to our jeep, said hello, and started crying — apparently, elephants cry when they are happy. She was so close, I could have reached out and touched her. Sadly, I refrained. What an amazing experience.
- Listening to the sounds of the bush. Hearing lions and cheetahs and elephants and baboons and birds. And having a guide who could identify each of the sounds.
- Going on a walking safari with two cheetah brothers. The cheetahs are wild, but were raised by a cheetah mom who was raised by humans. Thus, they have no fear of humans and let us pet them and then took a walk with us. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them make a kill, but we did get to see them mark their territory. They have a sister but we didn’t see her. Apparently, the boys also think they should mate with their sister and she is having none of it. So, they fight quite a bit and she had run off and was hiding when we saw the boys.
- The stars at night. Beautiful, just beautiful.
- Coming across giraffes while walking through the bush. Two of the juvenile male giraffes were having a bit of a power struggle, trying to determine who was the dominant giraffe. They would take turns pounding their head into the other one. It made a loud “thudding” noise each time. We stood and watched it for about 15 minutes. When all was said and done, I think it was a draw. A once in a lifetime opportunity.
- Seeing five juvenile lions harassing a herd of buffalo. The lions were spread out around the buffalo and one or two would occasionally run towards the buffalo. For the most part, the buffalo just stared at the lions like “seriously, you think you can take us?” Finally, one of the juvenile buffalo had enough and charged the lions. Nobody died, but one lion was left limping and one buffalo was left bleeding from the lion’s claws.
- Being there when a baby elephant decided he had enough of some buffalo. All of a sudden, the elephant’s ears start flapping and he made a small charge at the buffalo. Nobody was hurt in that altercation. Although, the baby elephant did almost knock himself out with his trunk…The baby was Jessica’s offspring and is clearing going through the terrible twos. The park is a bit worried about how much of a handful this little guy is going to be, largely because he does not have a strong male role model. (One of the male elephants was killed by a train and another had to be moved because he had become too agressive).
- The food at Nyeleti. Lindsey’s chicken curry was to die for. We had back bacon nearly every day. And the shortbread for breakfast each morning was divine.
- Spotting a honey badger. A real, live honey badger. You know, honey badger don’t care. It was a sight to behold. Our tour guide had never seen a honey badger in the wild. They are generally nocturnal, but this guy was running through the bush in the middle of the afternoon.
- Watching a baby rhino. The first park had a couple of them.
More pictures to follow once we have had a chance to organize them.