Africa, Dear Africa
A Safari Diary by Patrice Walters – On Tour with Outdoor Africa
Africa, dear Africa, how you have touched my soul! With your magnificent beauty, genuine people, and of course your incredible wildlife. This trip which I’ve dreamed about for 40+ years, wildly surpassed my dreams! South Africa and her people are forever in my heart. With new lifelong friends/family, my heart yearns to return.
Our Journey in Africa Begins
Our journey began in Johannesburg at AfricaSky Guest House, where Gilbert, who picked us up from the airport, immediately made us feel welcome and comfortable. It was the first of many joyful trips with Gilbert, getting to know about his young sons and wife. Dinner was so delicious and beautifully presented with exceptional service. We thought they’d mistaken us for royalty! And then there was Leoni, Johanna, & Queen, who I would love to sit and visit with all day on the gorgeous grounds of the guest house. Deidre, one of the owners, is an incredible decorator and made a point of visiting and welcoming us as well. Guest rooms are comfortable, beautiful, and clean.
Bright and early the next morning, we were greeted with a knock on our door by our very handsome private guide, River, who was just as eager as we were to begin our safari. Just as with all of the AfricaSky folks, there was an instant connection with River. I am really loving this already!
River aptly began sharing his knowledge of his country, her beautiful landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and even her interesting history as he drove us through Blyde River Canyon. Stopping at a view point, we were greeted by Precious who eagerly sold me a colorful hand carved and stained bowl. Before we departed, she gifted me with a pretty shell necklace and, the best part, a wonderful heartfelt hug. An incredible, luxurious time share home in Blyde Wildlife Estates was our stopover this night.
Into The Kruger – South Africa’s Gem
An early start in the morning treated us to some amazing sightings as we entered Kruger National Park; a pack of Wild Dogs, a couple of Hyenas, and a Lappet-faced Vulture, all very rare to see and here they were all together. At this point, I’m not sure who was more excited, us or River. It was as if he was seeing these animals for the first time, too. Since he was born and raised in Timbavati/Kruger National Park, it’s not so uncommon for him to witness these types of extraordinary events. River quickly commended us for spotting the Hyenas and Vulture. The other tourists were focused only on the dogs and missed what we spotted across the road. Lesson well taught, River; always look beyond and around your initial sighting or you are likely to miss something else special! Speaking out my motto, “How does it get any better than this?”, we continued.
We made our way to Satara Camp where we stayed 2 nights in a charming thatched roof, round hut where we enjoyed sitting on our veranda watching the Vervet Monkeys and Baboons getting into mischief. With each game drive, South Africa showed off more of her splendor! From the Lioness who locked her gaze on me and the magnificent Elephants revealing their power to the numerous spectacular birds, it got better and better!
Normally not a morning person, departing early to have the best opportunities for awesome adventures actually felt pretty incredible. River treated us to his own bush coffee at the gorgeous NWanetsi Lookout, after which we chatted with an anti-poacher on a bicycle, spotted another Lioness in the tall grass, watched many Giraffes gracefully amble along, Zebras in the distance, and then 2 Cheetahs. How does it get any better than this?! In the afternoon, along with Zebras, Elephants, and many awesome birds/raptors, several Ostriches appeared for us.
Night Drives Like Only Africa Can Deliver
A Genet, some nocturnal birds, male Lions (3), and a breeding herd of Elephants, whose bull did not like us spotlighting his herd, showed up for us during a night drive with one of Satara’s tours. An amazing part of the drive was when our guide turned off all of the lights and shut down the engine. In our stillness and the complete darkness, we listened to the sounds of the bush. Hearing Lions calling out, Elephants breaking branches, and all kinds of cool unfamiliar sounds was MAGICAL!
And the journey continues…