We picked up the rental car from JNB airport and ventured out for an adventure of driving on the wrong side of the road. Aside from getting lost leaving the airport (and getting set straight by some friendly police officers) things went fairly smoothly. We made good enough time to make it to the safari camp in time for the evening game drive. Our lodging, the Tydon Safari Camp had an arrangement to be able to drive into the Sabi Sands private reserve (parts of it, anyway) and go off-roading for really up close and personal viewing. That first day, we saw elephants probably within 50 feet (or less) and white rhinos even closer. There weren’t any other guests the first couple of nights, so the 3 of us had the truck & driver (Lyam) to ourselves. It was a really cool experience to be able to get so close to the animals in their own territory. Our night drives went until after dark, and the darkness made it even more exciting when we saw hyenas roaming around near one of the lodges.
The next couple of days we got into the routine of camp life. No Internet, no alarm clocks, no phones in the tents, we woke up to the sounds of our guide walking on the fine gravel paths to each tent and calling “good morning” to us at 5:30am. We’d pull on our warmest clothes (it got COLD overnight), grab a cup of tea, and climb into the safari truck around 6am, just as it was beginning to get light out. The first full day we were there was a Kruger day, so we took the truck with the canvas roof, but all the other days were in Sabi Sands so we were in the open land rover. We saw something new on every drive, and by the last night & morning, we got to see all of the “big 5.”
All the animals were really amazing to see, especially when you’d stop looking so hard to find them and then suddenly there would be an elephant in the road, or a giraffe just outside the window that you somehow almost missed. Our last night drive, our new guide, Jared, used the radio a lot more to keep in touch with some of the other drivers in the area, and although it changed the tone of the drive to have a specific target destination, we were able to spot a leopard resting and grooming herself by the river.
As we were heading back to camp along the main road in Sabi Sands, after we’d pretty much called it a night, I happened to notice 2 lions resting on the side of the road — the headlights had swept across them briefly but our driver at the time hadn’t noticed. “Lions! Stop, stop, stop!” I said, and we reversed a bit. There they were, just taking it easy, no more than 15 feet away from me (and less from the front of the vehicle). We weren’t really supposed to stop along the main road, so we couldn’t stay long, but it was so cool.
We saw them again, the last morning, resting on the other side of the road, not far away from where we’d seen them the night before.
After our last morning game drive, we loaded up the car and drove to the Nelspruit airport to catch our flights to Cape Town.
More / better pictures to come when I transfer them off my other camera…