Ep04 Big Five Safari

Jul 1, 2020

Hello World!

Welcome to episode 4.

6th, 7th & 8th Oct-2019, Sunday to Tuesday.

The Kapama Private Game Reserve is nestled between Blyde River Canyon and Kruger Park South Africa. At this game reserve, we experienced South Africa safaris with some of the best game viewings on Earth.

We were introduced to the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo. We also got the chance to see antelope, zebra, hyena, hippo, giraffe, and a plethora of birds and marine species. As with the majority of game spotting activities, we experienced a ride in the 4×4 vehicles, led by expert rangers and “spotters” (they spot the animals).

We spotted 4 out of the 5 Big Five. They are the lion, elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo. We missed the leopard. The closet we came was seeing a stuffed cheetah (does that count?).

Leopard

Cheetah

Preparing for the Safari Game viewing

South Africa’s many safari destinations can be divided into two main categories: a) state-owned parks and b) private game reserves. National parks are open to everyone, including day visitors and self-drive safari enthusiasts. They are more affordable, and generally more crowded. On the other hand, private game reserves are typically geared toward luxury travelers. They are defined by opulent accommodations and exclusive guided game drives. Because visitor numbers are limited, you’re much more likely to have wildlife sightings all to yourself.

At Kapama Private Game Reserve in South Africa, we would experience the thrill of Big Five wildlife sighting and the excitement of a wildlife encounter. For many of us, we were unsure what to expect but our expert rangers took great care of us. After breakfast, we gathered at the front and were given general instructions. We were then divided into 6 groups and each vehicle had around 8 people. We met our rangers and “spotters”. We were guided to our vehicle boarding station to board the huge 4×4 converted vehicles suitable for animal viewing. Before we started off, we were again reminded of the instructions given, for example, no standing up at all times, no stretching out of vehicles to take pictures, no shouting or coercing the animals, we had to be as quiet as possible, no stepping out of the vehicles unless instructed, no throwing stones at the animals and hold on to our hats. We felt safe under the guidance of our experienced rangers as we were going out into the open wide safari space.

Our rangers, ready to show us our first ever Safari.

Our rangers, ready to show us our first ever Safari.

 

Pre-trip instructions given by our Ranger.

Pre-trip instructions given by our Ranger.

Safari 4x4 converted vehicle

Safari 4×4 converted vehicle

We got the best-elevated back seats just for the 2 of us!

We got the best-elevated back seats just for the 2 of us!

Learning About The Big Five

The Big Five: South Africa’s Big Five Safari Animals

The Big Five.

The Big Five.

 

If you have ever done some research about African safaris, the chance is that you have come across the term ‘The Big Five.’ Although this may sound obvious, there are many misconceptions about the five species of the African wildlife which belong to this group.

Although the term is popular in the realms of wildlife safari, it was coined by hunters. ‘The Big Five’ refers to the biggest five animals in African wildlife. They include the African elephant, African lion, African leopard, Black Rhinoceros, and the Cape buffalo. Despite the wealth of diversity of Africa, these five animals remain at the top of the list of any safari tourists.

Big Five – Is it the leopard or the cheetah? Answer: Leopard

What are the differences between the leopard and the cheetah?

Cheetah versus Leopard.

Cheetah has spots while leopards have rosettes. The spot of a cheetah is a clear, single, black spot separated from the other spots on the cat’s body. A leopard, however, has smaller irregular shaped spots that group together in circles to form rosettes.

Cheetah, Leopard versus Jaguar

How to tell the difference? Cheetah, Leopard and Jaguar.

Black versus white Rhino

What is the difference between White versus Black Rhino?

 

Both black and white rhino are in fact grey. What sets the black rhino apart from its white cousin is its two horns. The front one is a prominent one. It may grow at the rate of up to three inches annually and can reach a maximum length of five feet.

The Black Rhino the other animal in the big five families which is most hunted by poachers. Its horns are believed to have a certain medical use. This makes it be highly sought after especially in Asian countries. This makes it one of the endangered species.

 

Animals spotted during our epic Safari visit 

On our safari ride, we saw many wild animals. Here are a few of them.

1) The Loving Elephants

Loving Elephants.

Loving Elephants.

 

2) The Strong African Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

A couple more Rhinoceros

 

3) The Graceful African Cape Buffalo that just adores being near the water

Water Buffalo

Cape Buffalo

A matured Water Buffalo

A matured Cape Buffalo

Confused with the difference of Cape/African Buffalo, Water Buffalo and the Bison?

The way their horns grow is one of the biggest differences between Cape buffalo, water buffalo, and the Bison. If the animal has a boss or the horns curl sharply downward, then you’re looking at a cape/African buffalo. A buffalo virtually anywhere else in the world outside of a zoo is virtually guaranteed to be a water buffalo.

Cape/African Buffalo, Water Buffalo and Bison

 

4) The Lion King 

The Lion King.

The Lion King.

The face of the Lion King.

The face of the Lion King.

The side of the Lion King.

The side of the Lion King.

The Lion King trying to take a nap.

The Lion King trying to take a nap.

 

5) The Lioness of the Safari (the one that wears the pants in the home)

The Lioness.

The Lioness.

 

6) The stripey Zebra

The Zebra.

The Zebra.

 

7) The common WARTHOG is a wild member of the pig family.

Warthog.

Warthog.

Warthog.

Warthog.

 

8) The Beautiful Impala

The Impala is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. We were told we did have impala served for dinner (but not those roaming in this private game reserve)!

The Impala.

The Impala.

 

9) The curious African Monkey

They even have African monkeys. Unlike many tropical African countries, there are only two monkey species in South Africa, namely the Vervet and the Samango monkey. We were not sure what species this monkey belongs to.

The South African Monkey.

The South African Monkey.

 

Not sure what this animal is but if anyone can tell us, do let us know in the comments.

Not sure what this animal is but if anyone can tell us, do let us know in the comments.

 

 

10) The Tall and Slender-Neck Giraffe

Of course, we can’t leave out the beautifully, slim and tall Giraffe.

The Giraffe.

The Giraffe.

A video of the Giraffe, Elephant and Lion.

We hope you will enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed shooting the video of these amazing animals. It was so amazing to be up close with the animals, unlike visiting the animals in a fenced up zoo. We are truly grateful for this wonderful experience.

 

 

Other interesting sights, such as Really Tall AntHills

And many, many more animals and birds. And we even saw tall anthills.

Tall Anthill.

Tall Anthills are common sights in South Africa.

Vultures, the birds of prey.

Vultures, the birds of prey.

The Circle of Life

Along the Safari ride, we were also shown and reminded that mother nature rules. The weaker animals are hunted by the stronger animals. We saw the carcass of a giraffe and bones of some bigger animal. The bones are not disturbed, as it is part of the circle of life.

Bones of a dead giraffe, undisturbed.

Bones of a dead giraffe, undisturbed.

The carcass of an animal.

The carcass of an animal.

We were informed that wild animals in the Safari are not fed by humans. The wild animals roam on the land and feed off the land or other weaker animals. The fallen trees or carcasses of animals are left undisturbed as it is part of the circle of life.

 

Hot Chocolate and Tea/Coffee Break Safari Style

We were treated to biscuit and hot beverages. Amazingly, the hot drinks tasted so delicious even on a hot day in the safari.

We were treated to biscuits and hot beverages. Amazingly, the hot drinks tasted so delicious even on a hot day in the safari.

Peter, the wild animal "spotter". It was really a cool experience sitting up front trying to look for the animals.

Peter, the wild animal “spotter”. It was really a cool experience sitting up front trying to look for the animals.

Peter and Susan next to the 4x4 vehicle on the Safari.

Peter and Susan next to the 4×4 vehicle on the Safari.

Our group with the ranger and spotter.

Our group with the ranger and spotter.

 

Night Safari

What is the big deal of Night Safari? We were given the option of doing a night safari and all of us curious people just jumped at the experience of what it means to go for a Night Safari. We were not disappointed as the smell, sounds, evening breeze and sights were all a totally different experience from the day time safari. Our guide would shine the light, swinging it from one side to another. We now understand why our guides once having spotted an animal will quickly shine the light away from the animals’ eyes (the light would blind the animals). We also saw the most beautiful sunset.

Going for a Night Safari.

Going for a Night Safari.

As the sunsets, we prepare for a Night Safari with very different experience.

As the sunsets, we prepare for a Night Safari with a very different experiences.

Night Safari, with a bright light shining to look for the animals and to direct the way home.

Night Safari, with a bright light shining to look for the animals and to direct the way home. Can’t say we saw lots of animals but the experiences were surreal. 

 

Beautiful South African Sunset

These were some of the most beautiful South African Sunset we would experience! They were a photographer’s dream to take such pictures.

 

African Women Use Heads and Gracefully carry Loads on their Heads

While in Kapama Game Lodge, Susan noticed a housekeeper very gracefully carrying a tower of towels. She did it with such grace and skill that amazed us all. We soon came to realize that many African women would carry loads equal to 70% of their body weight. Women practice head carrying out of necessity, they need their arms to help on other roles. Carrying weights on the head start young, with small weights that proportionally increase over time. Meanwhile, their neck muscles get groomed in the process. This is a common activity in Africa, we were soon to realize, as, during our trip around the country, we saw women carrying loads on their heads. Interestingly, we did not see men carrying loads on their heads! Mostly it was the women who did it?

Mural showing women and girls carrying loads on their heads.

A mural showing women and girls carrying loads on their heads.

A South African woman carrying a tower of towels so expertly.

A South African woman carrying a tower of towels so expertly.

 

 

 

Dinner and Breakfast

For the two nights that we spent at Kapama Game Lodge, we were so pampered. 2 dinners + 2 breakfasts were exquisite. The service and meals have been top-notch. We even made friends with our servers and cooks. The ambiance for fine dining was so special and breakfast was so well decorated. The variety at each meal was beyond our expectations.

Our hats off to the Kapama management; cooks, servers, rangers, spotters, housekeeping, and every other staff who have contributed to our most enjoyable stay. It was so hard to say goodbye, as we had made friends and have been so welcomed that we felt like part of the Kapama family. We will forever remember your hospitality. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for what you do at the Game Reserve and how you take care of the animals (and guests). We do so appreciate your research and contributions to protecting the animals, as well as preserving the Safari land for future generations.

Our ranger dining with us. The dinner spread and variety that the cooks put out for us was truly amazing! We had quite a variety of game meat to savor. We almost wished we had bigger stomachs.

Saying goodbye was so hard. Thank you and till when we meet again. 

 

Summary of the two nights and days

We have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the Kapama Game Reserve. We have also learned so much from our Safari experiences. Our rangers and spotters have been extremely patient and cheerful in showing us their land, culture, and a bit of themselves. Even though it may be a job for many of those who served us, they are such wonderful people. We experienced hospitality from their hearts and we are indeed grateful for them willing to share with us. We are truly amazed at what Kapama Game Reserve does for animal conservation and how they protect the wild animals. It all looks so easy, but I am sure it is not easy to run a place such as this. Please keep up the work that you do for future generations to enjoy your beautiful country. 

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