Africa 2019– Part 1: South Africa Safaris

We got home a week ago from an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING trip to South Africa, with a side trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana. I’ll write about Zimbabwe and Botswana in another post. In South Africa we spent time at two safari camps in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park, first at Shindzela Tented Camp, where we stayed in very nice safari tents (big tents on platforms). We really loved the relaxed atmosphere of Sindzela and the proximity of all sorts of wildlife. There is no fence around the camp, so all kinds of wildlife can wander right through camp, between the tents. It was fun looking for tracks in the morning to read the news of who had been by during the night. When we’d return from our afternoon game drive it would be dark, and because of the possibility of large animals in camp, our guide would escort us to our tent, then come back to get us for dinner, then escort us back for the night. After that we’d stay in our tent (or on our porch marveling at the awesome spread of stars overhead). I’d go back there in a flash!

After four days at Shindzela we transfered to Kambaku Safari Lodge, where we had such a wonderful time with Africa Geographic’s Art Safari with Alison Nicholls, sketching (me) and photographing (Stephen) almost all day from before dawn till after dark. I LOVED that and could have spent many more days doing that! Kambaku is not as rustic as Shindzela (not that Shindzela is really what I’d call “rustic”), and while I think we prefer the simpler, more rustic style of the tented camp, we certainly enjoyed the four days of luxurious living. We also had amazing and delicious meals at both places, most often eating outside, sometimes in a boma (a sort of corral with a bonfire in the center), where we could look up and see the amazing stars. I was excited to see the Southern Cross for the first time!

At both places we had fabulous guides and trackers taking us out in safari vehicles for three hour long morning and evening drives. The vehicles were open Land Cruisers with no doors, windows, or roofs, so fabulous for enjoying the great outdoors, but also a bit chilly early in the morning and late in the evening. Our morning drives would start before the sun was up, when it was chilly enough that I wore pretty much all the clothes I could, including my pajamas for extra warmth, and wrapped a warm blanket around me in the vehicle. After the sun rose I would gradually peel off layers. In the evening it was the reverse, starting out warm and becoming cooler after sunset. We saw some pretty cool animals after dark, including watching a pride of lions hunting one night, and other nights seeing bushbabies, spotted genets, and once, an African Wild Cat (soooo cute!). Halfway through the morning drive we’d have a break for tea, and on the evening drive we’d stop around sunset for “sundowners” (drinks). On the last evening of the Art Safari we had to suddenly jump into the vehicle, with our drinks still in our hands, because a pride of lions was approaching!

Here are some photos from our our time at Shindzela and from the Art Safari at Kambaku. Stephen took almost all the photos; I took a few with my cell phone, but mostly I sketched everywhere we were on our whole trip. I’ll be posting my sketches in a separate post.

Stephen and me in front of the safari vehicle
Midday workshop with Alison Nicolls during Africa Geographics Art Safari
Female Kudu
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
African Wild Dogs
Southern White Rhinocerous
Grey-headed Bushshrike
Crested Barbet
Red-billed Oxpecker on Hippo
Spotted Hyena
Lilac-breasted Roller

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