When in Africa, one must go on a safari. In fact, along with shark cage diving, seeing lions on a safari was at the top of my list for things to do in South Africa. Perhaps it had something to do with multiple viewings of The Lion King when I was a child, but I couldn’t wait to see lions out in the wild.
When I had thought about going on a safari before, I had always envisioned trundling along in a jeep in the African desert. As a result, I didn’t expect the environment to be so lush. As we weren’t quite in the desert, that meant we were driving through lots of bush and tall grass, and we really had to keep our eyes peeled for animals. This was no zoo, oh no, this was a hunt.
Our first game drive was at Addo Elephant Park. We were all very eager to see lions, but we were told our chances were slim. They only had a few lions and guests rarely ever saw them. Still, we kept our hopes up.
The first animals we saw were a leopard tortoise, followed shortly by a warthog. After a round of “When I was a young wart-HAAAAAWG,” we observed the mother warthog and her baby. Suddenly, a male warthog came out of nowhere and rushed the baby! Our guide told us that male warthogs will attack the babies when the mothers are not sexually willing. We watched the male warthog chase the baby in circles while the mother tried to interfere. Luckily, the mother and baby managed to hide from the male after a few close calls.
Afterwards we spotted some kudu, a type of antelope and the emblem of South African National Parks. Then, near the watering hole, we came across elephants! I couldn’t believe how many there were. We watched a few elephants cool off by using their trunks to chuck water on their sides. Then, a small herd of elephants walked right in front of our truck! I couldn’t believe how close they were. There was even a baby that squeezed under its mother’s belly, a sign it was still under one year.
At the end of the day, we didn’t see any lions, but we were pretty pleased with everything we saw. Plus, we still had two more game drives.
The next day, we headed to Kariega Game Reserve. Our first game drive was in the afternoon. Still on a lion hunt, we kept our eyes peeled. But it was so difficult to spot anything in the brush! We did spot a horn-less rhino though. Rhino poaching is a big issue in South Africa due to the high price of rhino horns in Asia, and the park had removed the horn of this rhino to deter poachers.
We caught a glimpse of a few female lions disappearing into the brush, which was such a tease. However, we got distracted when it started down-pouring out of nowhere! Within a couple of minutes we were soaked. But it only lasted ten minutes before it was gone.
The next morning, we woke at 5:30 for an early morning game drive. Dawn and dusk are good times for animal spotting as the temperature is still cool. The first animals we spotted were a whole herd of zebras crossing the road. They were so cute moving along – one even stopped to roll around in the road a bit!
Driving along, we spotted more rhinos. Again, they had no horns but this time it wasn’t just the park’s doing. Our guide told us one of them had been attacked by poachers, but luckily had survived. Usually, rhinos don’t survive poaching as poachers cut directly into the skull to retrieve the whole horn, but this one miraculously had.
We were admiring a giraffe when our guide received a call on the radio. Another group had found the lions! We took off, eager to finally see them.
When we arrived in a clearing, there were seven lions lounging in the shade of small bushes. They were yawning and relaxing. “Lions sleep up to 18-20 hours a day,” our guide told us. Not a bad life, I thought. Though I knew how dangerous they were, I couldn’t help but find them cute; I even felt like cuddling one!
We watched as one by one, the lions got up and moved to the shade of a different bush. At one point, one walked right by our truck. It suddenly occurred to me that if it wanted, that lion could leap up into the truck and take us all. I sat there, frozen. Perhaps not so cuddly after all.
It was fantastic finally seeing the lions after three game drives. It had been well worth the wait and if anything, it made seeing them so much better after all the anticipation. Of course, you can always go to a zoo and see lions, but it’s something else tracking them down and seeing them in the wild. We all left Kariega pretty happy after our successful lion hunt!
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by any of the game parks mentioned. My opinions are my own.
*Photos by Morris M.
WOW! you so saw SO many different animals- how awesome! loving all your south african posts! really inspiring! maybe ill just have to go there next year! 🙂
those zebras are so cute by the way!
Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying all my posts. I still have a post on cheetahs coming up!
Elal Jane Lasola | The Shades of Grey
I’m not a fan of zoos but African Safari is definitely something I would like to try. 😀
It was very much a change seeing them in the wild after only going to zoos. Definitely a much better better experience!
The Wanderfull Traveler
Absolutely amazing! It’s one of my dreams to go on a safari in Africa one day.
I bet it was a thrilling experience to see these animals without a cage or glass to separate you.
It really was – it’s a completely different experience than a zoo! Hope you get the chance to go one day!
We are happy for having the same great experiences this March at Kariega. Especially seeing the elephants and lions so close was exciting. Never like to go in a Zoo in future, only joining them in wildlife.
Agreed, I’ll never be able to go to a zoo again, it’s just not the same!
Safari is right at the top of my list, I just hope that when I finally get there I see as much wildlife as you did!! It looks like an incredible trip – great pics.
From my safari experiences Emma, the trick is to be out exploring around dawn and dusk. That’s when many of the animals seem to be the most active.
That would be amazing! We dream of Africa!
Great post and amazing photos living in South Africa it makes me so happy that people enjoy coming to our beautiful country!
It most certainly is a beautiful place!
These are just stunning pictures.South Africa is truly a magnificent place to visit.
I really like all pictures uploaded here in this post.
I must have admit that South Africa is truly great place or country for wild life adventures.
I would love to go there some day and this one will help surely on that day.
WOW! you so saw SO many different animals- how awesome! loving all your south african posts! really inspiring! maybe ill just have to go there next year! 🙂 thanks for shearing us.
How awesome! loving all your south African posts! .South Africa is truly a magnificent place to visit.
Just amazing snaps of the wild, Megan. Wish to go on an adventure like this. The zebra looks actually beautiful. I could just feel the safari from viewing those snaps.
Nina J. Kim
It’s my dream to visit African National park and see the wild natural beauty in naked eye. I love animals a lot. You gives a nice journey here through the wild. Thanks.
How do you manage to keep up with so accurate shots in a moving car? Just beautiful!
I am planning to go on a desert safari this summer! Thanks for this post! It is simply thrilling!
There is no place like my mother land Africa!
I always wanted to go to Africa, never been so lucky enough to visit there. You guys have taken quite good photographs.
Wooow! South Africa looking good + the wildlife you sure must have enjoyed yourselves
How awesome! I have never been so lucky enough to visit Africa. I have not seen the lion yet
I am a true animal lover, Definitely one day I will visit the place. All the images are beautiful clicked and I can say you are really romancing the African safari.
I am feeling jealous..;)
Anyway, Thanks for your sharing a great piece of information with images.
Its simply amazing. You just had an unforgettable experience. I really liked the post. Nice pics. I just wish even i get a chance to have the same experience someday into wildlife.