My first-ever safari was so many things: breathtaking, awe-inspiring, grounding, affirming, magical and even some feelings that I can’t explain with words.
On day two of my trip to South Africa in April, our group woke up bright and early and left the hotel at 6 a.m. for the Pilanesberg National Park for the safari. When we arrived, we were able to purchase authentic African wares from local artisans — wooden carved animal sculptures and masks, dashikis, textiles, jewelry and more. Our group divided onto two trucks, and off we went into the 141,440-acre park. I had high expectations of seeing the “Big Five”: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, African elephant and African buffalo. Click through the slideshow to see some of majestic species we encountered.
It was a spiritual moment to be experiencing God’s creation in their pure habitat. I never thought I’d be within an arm’s reach of these majestic creatures. It was an excellent day of sightings on the game drives. We saw water buck, antelope, a warthog, Egyptian ducks, Gnu wildebeest, Kudu antelope, a shy elephant, impalas, a pair of male white rhinos, a pride of lions, giraffe, Madibu storks, heron, a small family of hippopotamuses and many more. We got three out of the “Big Five,” so that’s exciting!
The first of my two favorite encounters from the day was when we happened upon a pride of lions — two males and three females — about 10 meters from the truck. They were resting under the shade and cleaning each other, when one of the males felt he wanted personal space and left the group to seek his own secluded shelter. The second life-changing moment was when we saw two young male rhinos off in the distance. They kept walking our way and eventually crossed the road right in front of our truck. That was amazing because the guide had just finished telling us about the poaching epidemic and how rhinos face extinction. It’s wild because it’s almost like a cartel with park employees working in cahoots with poachers to let them kill these beautiful beings. Unfortunately, the other group happened upon a dead rhino, a casualty of a poacher’s snare two days prior.
That day I felt like I was a “National Geographic” photographer and know that these images will be a tangible reminder of the Motherland for the rest of my life. I checked this off my bucket list with pride and must say that I’m beyond blessed!
See what other adventures I’ve gotten into by clicking here to read more Out and About posts.