Sunday, September 19, 2010


Because of the open border with Kruger National Park, it is highly likely that travelers on a safari to the Sabi Sabi Game Park in South Africa's wilderness will see The Big Five: elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo and rhino.

At sunrise - activities start early in the bush - our party assembled at 5 am in the lodge for a cup of coffee, where a waiter's warning shout sent Vervet monkeys scampering across chairs, up into the rafters and out through the skylight.  The cookie jar, object of their mischief, was sent flying in their haste to escape.

Once settled in the safari vehicle we pushed through dense foliage and emerged to find ourselves surrounded by four huge bull elephants.  They were breakfasting on tree branches.  As we sat silently watching, another Land Rover drew up and stopped on the outer edge of the circle.  Suddenly, the massive head of the closest elephant jerked back.

His trunk swept up and moved like a cobra proving the air about him as he savoured our human smell.  The radio crackled to life and the driver of the second Land Rover said sharply to our ranger, "Watch it Bruce.  That elephant's bad-tempered."  But Bruce was ready.  the angry bull's trunk came down and tucked in close to his chest.

True to form, with tusks raised and ears quivering like giant fans, his massive body started to rock.

Idyllic it may seem within the relatively secure surroundings of the lodge, but in fact when we were at Sabi Sabi there were no fences to keep wild animals at bay.  After dinner we walked back to our cottage along a tree-lined path with lit lanterns dangling from tree branches along the way.  We were escorted by Bruce a tall handsome game ranger with a rifle casually propped on his shoulder. 

One must always be aware of the dangers.  A member of the staff had nearly been blinded by a spitting Mozambique cobra the week before, and hyeanas, tempted by meaty smelling hand prints on the steering wheel of a parked Land Rover, had taken bite-sized chunks out of the tough rubber.  With teeth that can crush buffalo bones the steering wheel had been just another snack.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Sunday, 19th September, 2010


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