A Real Live African Safari!

This entry is part 15 of the series Africa Book Safari

The year of Africa in the Corder Home!

As many of you are aware, we have just come to the end of an amazing virtual Africa Book Safari on Facebook.

For many years, my husband, Rob, and I have longed to go on an African Safari with a game drive which takes you off-road to see some of the animals close up in their natural habitat. But they are all SO expensive, and now that we’ve reached retirement we couldn’t see it ever happening.

However, it is 50 years this month since we entered full-time ministry when my husband was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. We wanted to celebrate it in some special way. What better way than to take a game drive into a game reserve? Especially after the recent publication of my book, God in Africa, and the conclusion of the very successful Africa Book Safari. (More about that tomorrow.)

A lot of happenings

After much research and establishing there was NO WAY we could ever afford to do this. Then I “happened” to mention it to a friend in my card-making group. She “happened” to know her neighbor had recently been on a safari—and it hadn’t ended them up financially destroyed! So we investigated. And yesterday, we “happened” to take ourselves off to the Kwantu Private Game Reserve, 95 kms from our home in Port Elizabeth for a celebratory game drive. (Don’t you just love these “God-happenings” in life?)

God-happenings are given to us as a sign of how much He loves us. Isn't He great? Click To Tweet

Words cannot adequately describe the amazing day. So I thought I would share with you some of the things we saw and participated in.

Five-star Luxury – with a game drive

The morning started in a magnificent five-star hotel, where we were treated to a fabulous “bonus” breakfast we hadn’t anticipated.

 

Five-star luxury

 

The beautiful dining room

After some time to wander around the beautiful grounds, we set out on the game drive. Once we had clambered onto the high landrover, our guide introduced himself and explained that the animals were not afraid of the vehicle as they saw it as a single unit. However, if any arms waved out the vehicle, or passengers leaned out with their cameras, the animals would either take fright or draw close in a way we did not want to happen! Trust me. We all listened carefully!

Bumpy ride ahead

Our guide and driver, Densely Chireru, turned out to be a Zimbabwean, born and brought up in a small rural town called Mazoe, in the same land where I grew up. He was a lovely guy, and so very well informed about life in the wild. He would stop the landrover and hop out to pick up a chunk of dung in his hand and show us how he knew what animal it was from and how near the animal could be.

It was amazing how bumpy the “roads” were and of course, it was far worse when we went offroad. I wear a “Be-fit watch” and I was fascinated to see by the time we got home, that I had done nearly 10,000 steps. Yet the furthest I walked the whole day was to and from the dining-room!

We saw buck (antelope) in many places, but they tended to be skittish and so difficult to get close. Thanks to Densely, I learned the names of all the breeds we spotted.

Impala hiding in the shade of a large tree

Springbok, our national animal, that lends its name to our national rugby team.

Blesbok, who hang their heads down to prevent maggots from entering their large nostrils!

I’m a G-nu!

It was thrilling to see some Wildebeest up close (known in other countries as the Gnu.)

The Wildebeest, or Gnu, who wouldn’t post nicely for a photograph.

And we were amazed at the way termite mounds dotted all the open surfaces. Densely stopped periodically to explain what sort of termites had built these, which he could tell by the color of the mounds, showing what type of soil they had used. He also said that the mounds are known as Africa’s icebergs, as only 1/3 of each show above the ground!

Termite mounds– These were some of the little ones.

 

And then we saw a number of these beauties, who were not at all camera-shy!

An 18 foot male giraffe taller and darker than his dainty (but still huge!) counterparts whom we’d already seen.

This Zebra stallion had a brood of females whom he was determined to protect at all cost!

Siesta Time!

Then we came across this family enjoying a siesta under the trees. Delsely told us that these lazy creatures sleep for 20 hours a day! The females do most of the hard work, catching food, etc, while this King of the Jungle protects his family . . . and sleeps!

Difficult to photograph as they were so well camouflaged. The King of the Beasts.

 

and one of his two wives. We had to remain in our “comfort zone” or it might have ceased to be comfortable for us!

When this male rhino saw us coming, he got to his feet in a well-mannered way, while his wife stood by shyly in the shade. What magnificent beasts, and how sad that they are frequent victims of poachers in this area as well as all over South Africa. Men are their biggest predators, often not bothering to even kill them, but just hacking off their horns and leaving them to bleed to death. If only these poachers would take a game drive and see these magnificent creatures in the wild, maybe they’d lose their lust for wealth and power.

The male rhino who got to his feet when we arrived to pose for us.

and his wife.

They are grazers, and so have thick bottom lips. As a result, the Dutch settlers to Africa called them the Wyde-mond rhino – literally, Wide-mouthed rhino. The English settlers misunderstood and thought they were calling them the White Rhino – and the name stuck to this day.

Any more Big Five?

So far, we had only seen two of the Big Five, when suddenly, around the corner, heading straight for us on the narrow dirt track we were confronted with —

Daddy Elephant out for a stroll followed by his wife and youngster. Who has right of way?

Fortunately, he decided to be a gentleman and stepped into the bush, and disappeared silently. Absolutely amazing!

Our guide calmly switched off the engine and just sat watching him, confident that the elephant would give way to us. He did too! Followed by his wife and a youngster, they just disappeared without a sound. Quite incredible.

We saw other animals, but they weren’t so photogenic. Like the two hippos bobbing with just their eyes, nostrils and ears visible, and every now and then disappearing beneath the water.

Conservation and Rehabilitation

As we returned to the hotel, Densely turned the vehicle to take us to the Conservation and Rehabilitation center. I thought this would be like a museum with a lecture – but it was amazing.

Kwantu takes part in rescuing baby animals where the parents have been poached, and animals destined for overseas zoos. Where possible they are reintroduced to the wild when they are well enough or returned to the wild in their own country. But often this is not possible, due to genetic or other reasons. In this case, they continue to care for them and where possible use them to breed.

The two most magnificent beasts we saw were:

This magnificent white lion who was destined for an overseas zoo before Kwanu stepped in and rescued him.

 

This stunning tiger cannot be introduced to the park as they are man-eaters, and the reserve would no longer be able to use open vehicles for game drives.

Research opportunities!

Several times, during the drive, I found myself wishing I had done this game drive before tackling my book, God in Africa. And yet, I was delighted when he kept mentioning facts not normally known to the public, which I had included in my book! So much so that I gave him a copy of God in Africa when we parted at the end of a glorious drive.

We ended the morning with an incredible slap-up meal in their beautiful dining-room once again. I even ate food which I had never tried before. (Only my family will know how unusual that is!) I ate and LOVED curried prawns on a bed of rice. Yummy!

So I feel as if my own personal African Safari, first through all the research for my book, then through our Africa Book Safari, was brought to a wonderful end yesterday. Except I’m already under pressure to write a follow up to God in Africa. If I do, I will be asking you all to pray that we can return to Kwantu, this time to stay overnight so we can go on a night drive as well as another morning drive.

Over to you –

Have you ever been on a game drive? If so, what was the most thrilling part for you?

If not, would you like to go, and what would you most want to see?

Please leave an answer in the comment section below. I will respond – and if you leave me a URL to our website I will visit you there.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read the round-up of our virtual Africa Safari!

Celebrating fifty years of fruitful ministry, as well as many more years living in this wonderful country God has placed us in. Click To Tweet

14 comments on “A Real Live African Safari!

  1. I have been blessed to go to Kruger so many times and it’s one of my favorite places to go. The peace and beauty of the African bush is amazing! I love the cats, but have also started to really enjoy bird-watching!

    • Thanks so much for your visit, Lisa. Yes, I’ve been to Kruger, but only on two occasions. I often marvel over your wonderful photos. I admit that I don’t know much about birds, but we certainly have some stunning little creatures flying around our country!

  2. Lovely commentary & photos of your Game Drive; brought back many memories especially as I am sitting in England in temperatures of -1C to 9C!
    I would love to go to the Eastern Cape Game Reserves again; I have never been to Kruger but had a number of visits (&game drives) at Wankie in 1960/1970s)
    Blessings to you & Rob. 💕

    • Thank you so much for your visit, Jo. As I said, this is the first time we’ve done an actual game drive, and I’m hoping it won’t be the last. It was an amazing experience.

  3. I went on one when I was in Kenya, but don’t know the name of it. For me the Giraffes have always been my favorite. Some in my group went out early one morning and brought me pictures of the Lions eating some prey. Cannot wait to read my copy of your book.

    • Enjoy the book. Yes, I too adore watching the giraffes. They’re so graceful and totally unafraid! The lions are fascinating too. I admit to being a bit wary of the ellies after a couple of too-close encounters with them at Addo!

  4. Just before leaving Lesotho, we were tested to a game drive at a private game drive. I remember that even the ranger gave the hippo a wide birth.

    • Thanks for coming to see the photos, Debbie. Yes, the hippo is a guy to avoid at all costs. He looks so fat and lazy, but that’s an illusion. He can run at 30 kph which is a lot faster than I can!

  5. My family went on a trip to the Kruger National Park when I was 18. We were in our own car so could only stick to the roads which means you don’t see very much but I did see the paw of a sleeping lion! I love cats big and small, so seeing any of the cat family would be my first choice but I’d like to see the other Big 5 too. So glad you had this opportunity Shirley

    • Thank you Peggy. Yes, the ranger explained that they stick to the roads because otherwise it harms the eco system, although these were not roads that any normal vehicle could travel on! They were just faint, very bumpy, dirt tracks. They only time they move off those tracks are to see the Big Five. Then we went totally offroad.

  6. How wonderful for you Shirley….Suddenly I feel so spoilt…Every year we spend at least a week in the lovely Pilanesberg Game Reserve and we have been on many amazing safari drives. We also drive through the park in our own vehicle and we have had some really special times there. On monday we leave for our annual treat and I can’t wait…It’s definitely one of my happy places, where I feel my soul renewed as soon as we drive into the park…I will post some pics!

    • Please do. I’ve camped at Pilanesberg and driven in our own vehicle and the only animals we saw were herd of ellies on the horizon! We’ve visited lots of game parks but this was our first game drive.

  7. I’ve been on one now, through your experience and your book, God in Africa. But, yes, I’d love to go for real. I’d love to see the white lion and of all things the termite mounds.

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