Jenny’s South Africa Trip Report – Part II

May 31, 2013  By: Gretchen

We’re bringing you Jenny’s adventures in South Africa from her very recent safari. If you missed part I, click here to catch up!

5:30am wake up – took a bit of coffee/tea and biscuits before we headed out on our game drive. Today we had a great game viewing day with a leopard sighting, jackal, ngala, impala, eland, jackal, elephant, cape buffalo, baboons, vervet monkeys, the almost endangered bat hawk and many more birds. On our way to look over the Limpopo river (Zimbabwe is just on the other bank!), we passed through the fever tree forest which gave everything around a spooky green aura. Back at camp we settled down to a full breakfast. It was a cloudy day, so after breakfast, we each welcomed a nap break in our rooms, listening to the breezes. The Outpost is a treat for those who are looking for a true quiet, intimate safari experience. The food is quite good, and it is the only camp in this area, making for a very intimate experience. The best unit is #12, with full panoramic views around the riverbed.

In the afternoon we headed out again for a game drive, but this time to Lanna Gorge. The Gorge is a true wonder, gorgeous natural beauty. We had sundowners here and took our time with the view. During our drive we saw many birds and plains game, but at night we were treated to a true treat with a leopard sighting – 2nd one in a day! The landscape around the Outpost in Northern Kruger is incredibly varied – full of ebbs and flows and rocky outcroppings. The foliage is sometimes dense and then breaks open to more open plains. The diversity is quite picturesque! We returned to our camp for a delicious boma dinner and a quick sleep.

With an early start, we took the 1 hr transfer back through the villages to our local airstrip to catch our single prop plane for the flight to Phalabora. Upon arrival, we transferred (about 1.5 hrs) to Tanda Tula in the Timbavati. Tanda Tula is a great experience, it’s a tented camp for a true out-in-the bush feel. The rooms are tastefully decorated, and the owners are quite visible and eager to make your stay with them a pleasant one!

We arrived in time for a quick lunch and an afternoon game drive. And what a great one it was – we were treated to a rare sighting of wild dog (6 in the pack), the alpha female was quite pregnant and looking to den, so we saw them just in time before they tuck themselves away. Next, we caught up with a lioness and her 3 juvenile male cubs. The cubs are great to watch – while they are still young and learning from their mother, they were all starting to sprout a mane. We had a great day, also spotting impala, nyala, wildebeest, springbok, bushbok and zebra.

Back at camp, we had a great treat of hot chocolate and Amarula (it is cold out there in South Africa’s winter!) before a fantastic boma dinner of salads, fresh veggies, grilled fish, duck and prime rib and white chocolate crème caramel for dessert. A great day indeed.

We got up early for a shortened game drive since we had to be on our way quite soon – and good thing! We were treated to a lovely elephant family sighting – one of the elephant babies was only 1 month old. We watched as he navigated the use of his trunk. The family was very calm around our vehicles, allowing us fantastic opportunities to photograph the little one trying to find his way about the area. As soon as he got a bit close for the mother’s taste, she carefully led him back to her care. Very touching!

We were also lucky enough to see a great many zebra, an owlette (another one!), bushbuck, duiker and finally, the lioness and her 3 male juvenile cubs again. This time, they were quite playful with each other while they moved slowly through the bush. It was fascinating to watch them catch the scent in the air looking for food, all the time completely unconcerned with us.

Back for a great breakfast before we headed off to some site inspections in the Timbavati of Kings Camp, Waterbuck and Motswari, before arriving at Ngala Tented camp. This camp was completely rebuilt due to floods and it’s a gorgeous place.  Since we were a bit late, we jumped into a transfer vehicle and caught up with our game drive vehicle – good thing we did! This afternoon we saw giraffe, 4 white rhino together (amazing!), lion, elephant, zebra, plains game, warthog, and finally in the evening, a leopard.

One great thing about Ngala Tented Camp is that it has its own private concession within Kruger National Park – so sightings are only shared with those in your camp. There is no time limit to how long you can spend with the animals – so we spent about 30 min with the leopard in the evening! What a magical experience.

Back home we freshened up quick for a great dinner (tomato soup, prime rib and caramelized bananas) before heading to bed. Tomorrow will be another full day!