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Chasing ghosts… finding the snow leopard

Lion Sands Tinga Lodge

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Take A Walk On The Wild Side

The Pafuri Walking Trail  in the Makuleke Concession of the Kruger National Park is without a doubt one of the most remote and wild walking experiences that can be found today. A 3 night 4 day trail is the perfect getaway to experience nature at its best.

The early hours of each day were spent walking in various parts of this unique and extremely diverse area. We had a number of great sightings of elephant, safety is distance when out walking which can be hard to maintain whilst walking for 4 to 5 hours. Most of the time we were able to get to an elevated area and enjoyed watching the behavior of the elephants whilst they were completely unaware of our presence. Buffalo were fairly common and we had to be very careful where we walked. Once or twice we got a little too close for comfort but with the knowledge and experience of our guides we were able to appreciate the skills needed to spend time safely in this environment and avoided having to climb any trees.

In this areas the cats are difficult to find on foot so in the in the afternoon we would use the the vehicle to explore the area, we were fortunate to see two different leopards which was a real highlight. We found some spectacular spots to enjoy our hard earned sun downers and to relive the days sightings. When we arrived back at camp after each adventure, we were  greeted warmly by the friendly staff and treated to some fabulous meals cooked on the open fire.

We really had a fantastic time and enjoyed every minute of the adventure, a special thanks to the staff at Pafuri for such a great experience  and for making us feel so welcome and for looking after us so well.

Some of the best walking in South Africa, the area is extremely diverse. We enjoyed walking in the morning and then taking a drive in the evening to cover more area.

Some of the best walking in South Africa, the Pafuri Wilderness Trail is perfectly situated to explore this incredibly diverse area.

The reputation of a buffalo is well deserved which is why taking photos from the comfort of a vehicle will generally yield better photos due to less camera shake.

The reputation of a buffalo is well deserved, which is why taking photos from the comfort of a vehicle will generally yield better photos due to less camera shake.

A lone elephant bull in the spectacular Fever Tree forests.

Tracking at the confluence of of the Limpopo and Levuvu rivers.

Reading tracks and signs at the confluence of the Limpopo and Levuvu rivers.

Enjoying the freedom of tracking animals on foot in the dry Limpopo River.

Enjoying wildlife from the comfort of the camp. This elephant spent most of the mid day feeding around our tents.

Enjoying wildlife from the comfort of the camp. This elephant spent most of the mid day feeding around our tents.

The thrill and excitement of the mornings adventure proving too much for Gareth.

Brett, head of sustainability at Wilderness Safaris enjoying a fantastic photographic opportunity with buffalo.

Brett, head of sustainability at Wilderness Safaris enjoying a fantastic photographic opportunity with this herd of buffalo.

Spectacular scenery form Lanner Gorge, probably one of the best place in Africa to enjoy sundowners.

Spectacular scenery from Lanner Gorge, probably one of the best place in Africa to enjoy sundowners.

Walking in the wilderness is all about having fund and leaving the daily grind behind.

Walking in the wilderness is all about having fun and leaving the daily grind behind.

Time on foot allows you to earn a greater understanding of the natural world. We had an opportunity to spend time exploring the skull of an elephant which was extremely interesting.

Time on foot allows you to earn a greater understanding of the natural world. We had an opportunity to spend time exploring the skull of an elephant which was extremely interesting.

Taking a rest after a long morning walk and enjoying the scenic Levuvu River.

Every sunset in the African wilderness is special, one has to make sure to not spend too much time in the city before the next one.

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On Safari at Savanna Private Game Reserve

I have taken several trips to Savanna this past year and wanted to share some of the highlights of my time there. Although the game viewing is exceptional, it is the genuine warmth and friendliness of the staff that I enjoy most. They all have this wonderful ability to make you feel so at home I often have to remind myself I am actually working.

It really is all about the game though and that’s the impression you get from the passionate guides who go out of their way to make sure all expectations are met and, where possible, exceeded. Every safari is an adventure, from tracking game to the friendly banter between the vehicles. We are often the first to go out in the morning and the last to come back in the evenings, and that’s not because the guides are lost. Guests are often dragged away from tasty meals to race back out into the field to find themselves arriving at the perfect moment to observe an incredible sighting, and sometimes not. That is nature and it waits for no one but it’s always worth a try. There are very few camps where this still happens and unfortunately, it seems to be a dying service.

At Savanna there is a directly proportionate ratio of embellished camp fire stories to red wine, both of which are in never-ending supply. It does make it a little harder to get up in the mornings but with a fresh cup of coffee, the incredible wildlife and a little nap after brunch, you find yourself quite happily doing it all over again. These are the makings of a great safari.

 

Leopard, Savanna, Sabi Sands

A young female leopard killed a warthog piglet just before dark. After a brief scuffle with an opportunist hyena she managed to hoist it into a nearby tree.

Hyena, Savanna, Sabi Sands

Lions killed a wildebeest in the early morning, this was all that was left by the time we arrived. This hyena spent some time making sure every available piece of flesh and bone was removed.

Lion, Savanna, Sabi Sands

Affection from an older sibling. These young lions were separated from the rest of the pride, we found them in early morning where they climbed up a termite mound right next to the vehicle and posed beautifully for us.

Giraffe, Savanna, Sabi Sands

This young giraffe, with its umbilical chord still attached was running away from a large male leopard who had been watching it closely from the cover of a thicket.

Elephant, Savanna, Sabi Sands

Watching elephants swim is both fascinating and funny, these two bulls certainly wont be competing in a synchronized swimming event any time soon.

Cheetah, Savanna, Sabi Sands

We discovered this male cheetah early one morning, he had caught a young impala lamb just before we got there and had started to feed. Seeing cheetah is always a bonus so we just sat patiently in the rain and enjoyed the sighting.

Rhino, Savanna, Sabi Sands

Under immense pressure, one can consider every sighting of rhino a modern day privilege. In South Africa alone close to a 1000 rhinos were poached in 2013 and in 2014 we have already lost 42. How do we stop this epidemic?

Wild Dog, Savanna, Sabi Sands

A pack of wild dogs on the hunt has to be one of the most thrilling experiences in the African bush.

One of my favourite things to do is spend time watching a large herd of buffalo. There is so much interaction between the different members of the herd, ox-peckers fluttering excitedly and the ever present threat of lion hunt.

One of my favourite things to do is spend time watching a large herd of buffalo. There is so much interaction between the different members of the herd, ox-peckers fluttering excitedly and the ever present threat of hunting lions.

Elephant, Savanna, Sabi Sands

The water hole at Savanna often attract herds of elephants, buffalo and lions. To see these animals from the comfort of the breakfast table is always a treat.

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Family Safari to Africa

The journey began at the Saxon Hotel where we enjoyed superior service and luxury, just what you need after a long transatlantic flight. After an early morning breakfast and a quick transfer to the Federal Air Lounge we soon found ourselves buzzing along at altitude heading towards the Sabi Sands.

Londolozi is world famous for leopard, but we were treated to some of the finest hospitality under the African sun. The game was plentiful to say the least, wild dog on our first afternoon, cheetah on the airstrip and herds of elephants in view from the camp. It was also the added touches of a craft beer tasting at sunset, the marvelous bush breakfast in the warmth of the winter sun that were greatly appreciated. Nothing was too much, even a round of golf was arranged in between game drives at the local course in Skukuza. Sitting in the Varty boma on our last evening being thoroughly entertained by talented guides by day and ambitious rock stars at night. It’s tough to leave a place that creates such everlasting memories and I know a few tears were shed.

A short hop down to Cape Town and we were soon settling in to our villa overlooking the vibrant Camps Bay scene. The African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach provided an effective, albeit short lived, distraction from the highlight of the day which was the fear-confronting experience of shark cage diving. The Apex Shark Expeditions team were exceptional and met every possible expectation; their passionnd their professionalism for what they do and how they do it is certainly a benchmark for the industry. We observed several different sharks throughout the afternoon satisfying our curiosity for these deadly predators. The day ended with an almighty breach by an enormous shark that resulted in a roar of cheers by the awestruck team.

Table Mountain and Cape Point on a windless sunny day is simply hard to beat. Sensational meals at The Test Kitchen, Bistrot Bizerca and La Petite Ferme brought rightful recognition to the mouth-watering meals that the chefs created.  No trip is complete without a guided trip to the wine lands of Franschhoek to taste some of South Africa’s finest. Wine maker Gareth Hardres-Williams our, extremely knowledgeable guide for the day, chose some fantastic vineyards and kept us entertained with his humor and stories of his life as a game ranger.

Its amazing how many life-changing experiences can be accumulated in just eight short days. That is what Africa is all about, memories that will last a lifetime and stories that will grow by the day.

We were extremely fortunate to see a pack of wild dogs on our first afternoon. We spent some time trying to track them so it was really rewarding to find them and watch their natural behavior and eventually seeing them on an impala kill.

We were extremely fortunate to see a pack of wild dogs on our first afternoon. We spent some time trying to track them so it was really rewarding to find them and watch their natural behavior and eventually seeing them on an impala kill.

There is a magical moment that happens when you invite people to get off the vehicle and to walk amongst a journey of giraffe. Their faces start with a fascinating look of disbelief morphing into a child like gleam on Christmas morning. It really is a wonderful experience and a allows one to experience  just how tall these giants are.

There is a magical moment that happens when you invite people to get off the vehicle and to walk amongst a journey of giraffe. Their faces start with a fascinating look of disbelief morphing into a child like gleam on Christmas morning. It really is a wonderful experience and a allows one to experience just how tall these giants are.

It is always good to give animals their space and watch stories unfold. We watched this mother leopard looking for her cub. Patiently waiting and respecting her pursuit,  we were rewarded a wonderful scene of a the cub running towards his mother and watching them reunite and share the special moment with them.

It is always good to give animals their space and watch stories unfold. We watched this mother leopard looking for her cub. Patiently waiting and respecting her pursuit, we were rewarded a wonderful scene of a the cub running towards his mother and watching them reunite and share the special moment with them.

Our ranger and tracker team Tom and Jerry, did an outstanding job using their skills to track and find these magnificent males. To be sitting so close in an open vehicle next to these super predators is an experience that makes the long distance travel to get to Africa completely worth it.

Our ranger and tracker team Tom and Jerry, did an outstanding job using their skills to track and find these magnificent males. To be sitting so close in an open vehicle next to these super predators is an experience that makes the long distance travel to get to Africa completely worth it.

World class guide,Tom Imrie has been at Londolozi for the last 10 years. Formerly a golf pro, he really made the trip for us with a round of golf alongside hippos, giraffe and the green trimming warthogs. The golf course at Skukuza, who’s scorecard sports an amazing image of a lioness eating a buffalo on the fairway is a wonderful experience that Tom managed to squeeze in between our morning and afternoon safari.

 

Its always best to get up early to enjoy the spectacular views from the cable car on Table Mountain.

Its always best to get up early to enjoy the spectacular views from the cable car on Table Mountain.

Rock Hyrax enjoying the view  from the top of Table Mountain. These cute little animals spend their mornings basking in the sun much to all the photographers delight.

Rock Hyrax enjoying the view from the top of Table Mountain. These cute little animals spend their mornings basking in the sun much to all the photographers delight.

These comical birds are easily seen at Boulders Beach and is a popular spot for most tourists to visit. What people don't realize is there are less than 20 000 African Penguins  remaining in South Africa.

These comical birds are easily seen at Boulders Beach and is a popular spot for most tourists to visit. What people don’t realize is there are less than 20 000 African Penguins remaining in South Africa.

We had a phenomenal shark cage diving experience with Apex. The team were outstanding and went out of their way to make sure we had the best time. A four meter great white breaching with with such speed and ferocity is something i will never forget.

We had a phenomenal shark cage diving experience with Apex. The team were outstanding and went out of their way to make sure we had the best time. A four meter great white breaching with with such speed and ferocity is something we will never forget.

A special thanks to Jimi Partington from the Apex team who shared his incredible sequence of photos with us.

A special thanks to Jimi Partington from the Apex team who shared his incredible sequence of images with us.

Seeing great whites in action like this is a thrilling experience. Add that to the natural predations which take place around Seal Island and spending time underwater watching them glide effortlessly through the frigid Cape Water is an absolute must if you visit Cape Town.

Seeing great whites in action like this is a thrilling experience. Add that to the natural predations which take place around Seal Island and spending time underwater watching them glide effortlessly through the frigid Cape Water is an absolute must if you visit Cape Town.