On Location Shamwari Private Game Reserve – South Africa – Part 2

 

Soul stretching, heart thumping, adrenaline jumping and that’s in the first 5 minutes

Eager and willing to get out there and be part of the wild, I made sure this time I was wearing layers as the weather turned extremely cold which apparently is highly unusual for this time of year and for me was highly inconvenient since I only packed t-shirts and shorts. Thankfully our guide Ryan prepared blankets and a hot water bottle to keep us warm this early morning and for the rest of the day.

I jump in the truck and off we headed for an adventure of a lifetime. It is amazing how much you learn especially about animal dung and the time lapse since the animal has secreted. This is important to know so you can find them quicker. Ryan had pleasure passing the dung around while teaching the group all about telling the difference between the black and white Rhino. Something you have to experience first-hand before washing your fingers.

It wasn’t long until we turned a corner and saw a Giraffe roaming free. Next a herd of elephants out for breakfast with three baby elephants that played in the bushes before running in front of the vehicle like a scene from the Benny Hill show. To see these animals in the wild free is an eye opener not to mention sitting in an open safari truck where you are exposed, it is easy to experience fear however this is quickly replaced to satisfaction and an overwhelming peace as you watch them graciously moving without a care that you are there observing these magnificent creatures.

The morning continued with several surprises which included a chase to find the illusive leopard. Still haven’t seen her but this did lead to an open space where we found Buffalo’s, Rhino’s, Ostriches and many more wild animals with the most fascinating being a heard of Giraffes which was like a scene from Jurassic Park as they peer their heads above the trees.

Ranger Ryan thought it would be time for the group to venture out of the safari truck and go for a walk. Mind you it was only 10 minutes ago we were searching for the illusive leopard. Slowly we walked into the bush to follow the heard of Giraffes.

Soul stretching, heart thumping, adrenaline jumping and that’s in the first 5 minutes of the group walking through the bush. Being amongst the Giraffes was just like being one with nature. As the Giraffe’s began retreating with every step we made, Ranger Ryan suggested we all lie on the grass and wait. I honestly thought he was joking but within seconds he was lying on the floor telling the group to quickly join him as Giraffes are inquisitive animals and they have a habit of walking straight up to you and while tilting their heads. We were waiting for 20 minutes in the bush lying on the grass. Some people would think we were nuts but we listened to Ranger Ryan and they did move closer.

My heart was in my throat at one stage as I remembered there a wild animal in the vicinity and here I was lying in the grass open like a succulent oyster ready to be eaten. Actually, after a few moments you realise where you are and you just give in to nature and relax. Slowly we got up and made our way back to the vehicle.

Literally a few turns and a hill and we see a pride of lions. No words can describe what goes through your head when there are 2 male lions and 5 lionesses only a few metres away from you and the only thing between you is the side of the vehicle door. They know you are there but thankfully the vehicle is seen as a big unit to them so they just ignore it. Phew.

Taking plenty of pictures we noticed the lionesses moving into a position of alert and to the left were three warthogs strolling along, none the wiser of this pride of lions. Then the documentary started right in front of us. The lionesses began crawling through the grass with two splitting off into another direction to potentially corner off the warthogs. The two male lions made a move to the right to force the warthogs into a cornered off area to make it easier for the lionesses to do their work. It all happened so quickly. The lionesses ran to force the warthogs up the hill while the male lions covered the other exit to avoid lunch escaping them. Making their way through the middle was the rest of the lionesses. We could not believe what was happening because we found ourselves right in the middle of it all.

The lionesses were now walking around the vehicle making their way up the hill as in front of us now were the 3 warthogs. Then suddenly one warthog noticed one of the lionesses and made a run for it, he passed through a small opening in the bush and was too quick however for the other two remaining, they used that diversion to run passed our vehicle and dodge the male lions before escaping. The thrill of seeing this happen before your eyes is a true indication of how life in the wild is. We were informed later on that the pride had already eaten earlier and were just playing with the food.

There are a few key spots which are a must see while staying at the Shamwari Game Reserve.

Born Free Animal Reserve:
Through education, conservation begins. Open at 08:15am and 11:00am daily (7 days a week), the centre is an international wildlife charity with the primary focus to keep the wildlife in the wild and to stop the suffering of animals. Lions and Leopards who have been miss-treaded in captivity are rescued by the reserve and are rehabilitated while having access to vast land to roam free. Here you will learn about the work of Julie Ward and how this important centre is helping educate visitors from around the world.

Wildlife Shamwari Park:
Famous for the baby elephant who became friends with the merino. Here at the park they rehabilitee many animals. Today the main feature is a baby Giraffe and a baby Rhino who are slowly becoming life-long friends. There is another baby Rhino who is now an orphan as his mother was killed for her horn. The park saved the orphan from poaches who also cut his horn off but thankfully survived the ordeal. This is how important these centres are and each visit helps these animals have a chance at life in the wild.

The game reserve offers many different lodges to stay in as they cater for families, honeymooners, the adventurers and especially the MICE market.

There are several stops planned throughout the days so you get to experience the different properties and more importantly the delectable cuisines.

As the sun was setting, Ranger Ryan parked the vehicle and again informed the group that it was time for a walk. To our surprise, Ranger Ryan was setting up for us all to watch the sun set.

This sun-downer experience came with nibbles and a few drinks while you sit back and relax taking in this majestic country in all its glory.

It wasn’t long until it was dark and time to head back to the lodge and of course there was a massive obstacle in the road. An enormous male elephant blocked our path and we were only a few minutes from the gates of the lodge. Ranger Ryan new the elephant was grumpy so instead of waiting around, he headed into the bushes and found an alternative route to the lodge.

Only in the wild can the unexpected be expected. Still no sign of the illusive leopard but I guess she will have to wait till next time.

Source = e-Travel Blackboard: A.V
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