It has always been a dream to go on safari in South Africa. I don’t like visiting zoos, but to see wild animals in their natural habitat is a different story! You feel a rush going through your body and are just speechless when you come eye to eye with a wild animal. This feeling is indescribable. Everyone should go on a safari to experience it for themselves. Read here all about the three beautiful safari spots I visited for the travel organisation TUI, during my eight-day, self-drive adventure throughout the northern part of South Africa.
+ Phalaborwa Gate – Kruger National Park
Phalaborwa lies in the Limpopo Province and is the only town in South Africa which borders the Kruger National Park. It was time for my first game drive and I chose to go on the evening safari. Let me tell you I was rather nervous! Two game rangers picked me up in their 4×4 Jeep and within five minutes we were inside the Kruger Park. They call it gambling as there is no guarantee which animals you will spot. Just as I thought nothing was going to happen, a group of hyenas appeared. I couldn’t keep my eyes of these animals. Though they look so adorable, don’t be fooled; these animals will eat you alive! There was a baby hyena in the group which the mom hid out of sight while she was going out to catch dinner.
Evening safari means pitch-black darkness and glittering eyes
After spotting Poemba (the warthog), we stopped right in middle of the bush for a beer. Slowly the bush turned from daytime into pitch-black darkness. One of the rangers pulled out the spot lamps and I was given the task of looking for glittering eyes! You might think this is quite hard, but it is actually very easy to find animals this way in the dark. The glittering eyes of the African Civet (wild cat) and the bush baby gave their hiding places away.
Going on an evening safari offers you the best of both worlds during day and night. Bonus, the predators come out!
Sefapane Lodge as your safari getaway
Just one kilometer from the Phalaborwa Gate is the incredible Sefapane Lodge. Here I stayed in a house with a huge wooden porch, overlooking the bush garden and dam. From the reception, it is easy to make a booking for your desired safari. Besides the safaris offered at different parts of the day, they also offer a river safari, bushwalks and a braai (South African barbeque) in the bush.
+ Olifant’s River – Kruger National Park
The Olifants River flows from South Africa into Mozambique, passing through the Kruger National Park, and is just 30 minutes from Phalaborwa. A river safari is just another great way to spot wild animals. Its more likely to see hippo’s and corcodiles from the water. Hippo’s like to play hide and seek so look for two eyes popping out of the water and you’ve got them!
What better way of spotting animals than from your lazy chair while enjoying a glass of wine! Sefapane has a river lodge on the banks of the Olifant’s River, located in a private game reserve which is part of the Kruger National Park. Don’t be surprised if you wake up with elephant or hippo on your doorstep, the lodge has no fences!
+ Manyeleti Game Reserve
Time for a new experience. The morning safari means waking up at 04.30 in the morning. This is early but so worth it! The game driver collected me at 05.00 o’clock sharp to drive to Manyeleti Game Reserve. This reserve has open boundaries with the Kruger National Park. Just five minutes into the game drive I spotted a cheetah lying on a small hill. This was special as there are only 250 cheetahs living in the whole of Kruger! I could have watched this animal for hours but there was more to discover.
After seeing herds of impala, zebra and buffalo it was time for breakfast in the bush: I love these breakfasts which are served at the back of the jeep! All I can think about is the wild animals which could be anywhere around me, exciting!
Grazing elephant in front of me
Another miracle, just as the game-drive is about to end, we spot an elephant standing just four meters away enjoying his late breakfast. The adrenaline is rushing through my body; it is so breath-taking to see an animal that big so close by. The elephant is not bothered at all with us. He even walks a bit closer to get some more food!
I was sad to leave the Park. After catching the safari fever I just wanted to continue all day long!
I would highly recommend the Pezulu Tree House Lodge for the full-bush experience. Imagine sleeping in a tree house with trees growing up into your lodge, and waking up with the bush around you, where you can spot wildlife from your own private deck, heavenly!