This place literally exceeds every expectation we could’ve possibly had. What’s more impressive about this ability is that it was the single destination that we were most excited about and with already super high expectations, this has crushed it (we may or may not be plotting our return).
The morning here starts quite early – a 5:30 AM wake-up call and a 5:45 AM pick-up from the patio to head to the front of the lodge. We met the rest of the participants for coffee, tea, and snacks for about 15 minutes before loading up into the jeep around 6 am for our morning 4-hour drive. We saw a ton of animals- a ton. The pictures below don’t really do it justice but we saw the hippo from last night, tons of antelope and other deer-esque animals, the zazu bird from the lion king, at least 20+ giraffes, a leopard and her cub, rhinos, and tons of elephants.
To say that we were dangerously close to the animals doesn’t really explain how “nervous” we all were this AM on the drive. The first dangerously close encounter was with the rhinos – we came across a herd of five rhinos- 4 females and 1 male. The females were probably 50 yards in front of the male and we were parked in between them. We moved back to let the male pass and the male, during its ritual marking of the territory, turned around and started to stare us down. He flared up a little bit and didn’t trot at us but gave a little fake step and we were away very very close. Kevin (our guide) said that his heart was jumping as he thought we were going to get rushed.
The second was when we stumbled across a herd of elephants. There must have been at least 12 or so of various sizes – males, females, and babies. We were watching from a safe distance and then all of a sudden they continued to graze closer and closer to us. Next thing we knew, the little baby elephant was considering storming us, as its ears flared up and then all of a sudden, it was distracted (read: butterfly) and then was back to grazing and didn’t really care that we were there. At the closest, we were possibly 3-4 feet away from 3 elephants at one time.
(Note- I can’t post videos to the blog but if you want any videos of these guys, I have some real gems. Just text me your desired animal video and I’ll happily send along. Have some really cute ones of lions, leopards, and elephants).
We got back around 10 am and had a magnificent breakfast spread (quickly forgot about the prior hotel’s breakfast). We had about 4.5 hours to rest in between breakfast and lunch/afternoon drive and came back and passed out for a lengthy nap. We stumbled back for lunch and made our way out for the afternoon drive.
The goal of the afternoon was to track down the previously sighted lion and her 3 cubs. On our way there, we came across a field full of 100+ animals- zebras, hippo, wildebeest, warthogs, and so many more. They were all hanging in the open field together for protection. We learned that the zebras stand together (see picture below) to blend together but also to help swat away the bugs from each other’s faces. We also learned that the animals all stay together to help sound an alarm for each other should they see a predator.
After sticking around here for a little, we made our way over to go searching for the lions. We looked where they were spotted in the AM and were gone; however, one of the ladies in our jeep actually spotted the mom and her 3 cubs laying down and watched them for nearly 30 minutes. They were adorable. Post lions, we drove around looking for some hyenas but only stumbled across one instead of the large litter of pups that we were trying to find. We then pulled over for safari happy hour- a full bar to our utmost surprise- on the side of the road and watching the sunset while enjoying some adult beverages and snacks.
We made our way back to the lodge as the sky got dark and were escorted back to our room. We were told that we’d meet at 7:45 for dinner only to discover that we’d actually be ditching the group for the evening and having a candle-light dinner outside our room in the national park. We were surprised that they’d misled us but were very pleased with our experience- the food, the champagne, wine, and so much more.
The first full-day was absolutely perfect just has everything else has been in our short 30 hours we’ve been here. If any of you are considering a safari, do it. If you’re not considering a safari, do it. And if you want a recommendation, we have just the place and a guide for you to recommend. As mentioned, the HoneyMeyers are going to be plotting a return here soon.
We’ve yet to see water buffalo and aside from that have seen the rest of the big 5 (elephants, lions, leopards, and rhinos). Tomorrow is our last full-day with our safari group as they’re due to leave early Sunday so we’ll certainly look for more excitement with them tomorrow.
Over all, just another super impressive and awesome day.