There can be no doubt that the highlight of our trip to South Africa was our safari experience.
That is not to diminish the beauty of the the other areas we explored but to come face to face with with the beings who freely roam the reserve, is an opportunity of a lifetime & one we will never forget.
Shamwari provided us with an up close & personal experience, often finding ourselves within such close proximity, we could have reached out & touched the animals we were viewing.
We did not, for one of the things we loved about Shamwari was the very strict guidelines with respect to protection of flora & fauna on the reserve.
As we set out for our first game drive, we were met with a fairly substantial downpour of rain. These are the kind of unpredictable moments in travel where you can either allow the situation to cause you stress or you can opt to just go with it.
K & I exchanged a mutual shrug of the shoulders, a kind of an “oh well, we’re going to get wet” look & added a few more layers. We were in Africa afterall, living out a dream we had dreamed of for some time. No amount of rain was going to dampen our spirits.
We had barely made it out of the drive before seeing some giraffes loping across the road. They are such interesting creatures to watch, almost dinosaur like in their size.
Moving further into the reserve, we kept our eyes peeled for any wildlife. Clearly our ranger was much more adept at doing this than we were as we would have passed right by this beautiful creature without even realizing she was there!
At the outset of a safari experience, guests are given a run down of dos & don’ts, both for the protection of the people in the vehicle, but also for the protection of the animals who call Shamwari home. One of those instructions was to try to refrain from gasping or shouting when spotting an animal, thus sending them fleeing in fright. This can prove more challenging than one would think.
It was difficult to suppress startles of surprise as we rounded the corner & came to a halting stop to allow our friends to cross.
Receiving word through the radio from a fellow ranger of a sighting of the eldest male lion on the reserve, we opted to make our way to that area in the hopes of getting a glimpse of this beautiful guy.
It surprised me how camoflauged he was, sitting contently in the rain. With his colouring, he quite easily blended into his surroundings, seeming very uninterested in us as we approached.
It was only when he gave his mane a good shake that he really took any notice of us at all, most likely because we were interupting his nap!
Moving along, we ran into these two, leisurely grazing on the land. Mom & baby went about their grazing, as we sat quietly taking in their movement, giving us an opportunity to snap a few pictures, before they moved on.
Squeals of delight were difficult to control when we came across this baby giraffe. Our ranger estimated him to be not more than a few months old as he still had his umbilical cord hanging from him. If you look closely, you may be able to spot it in the 2nd picture.
Imagine our surprise when we came upon this rear end, quietly lolling along the road! Elephants are such fascinating creatures to observe. It was surprising to learn how very quiet they are as they move through the bush. With the exception of the snapping & cracking of branches, one would never know they were there.
Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly see more than we had seen that evening, we had one last sighting before heading back.
If my memory serves me correctly, I believe these two cheetahs were mother & son.
There are simply no words to describe the feeling of coming face to face with any one of the animals we came across that first night. To have the opportunity to sit quietly & observe them in their natural habitat truly left us in awe & at times, absolutely speechless.