Sabi Sabi: The Ultimate South African Safari

A leopard yawns in Sabi Sands, Kruger National Park

Our front row seats to Kruger National Park’s Big Five spectacular

Jaws open wide between scans of the horizon for approaching hyenas, the leopard bakes in the African sun while digesting last night’s kill. This is one of many awe-inspiring moments during our time at Sabi Sabi, one of the oldest and most renowned lodges in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Below is a brief glimpse of the raw power and unwavering beauty of the wildlife we experienced in the Sabi Sands. To see the unbelievable accommodations and pampering we received while back at Sabi Sabi’s Earth Lodge, please head over to Anne’s post, found here.


Each morning with French-press coffee and blueberry rusks in hand, we went out to watch the African sun cast its golden rays over the grasslands. Shortly there after, our safari vehicle would whisk us away 6:30am with a wool blanket, hot water bottle, and binoculars to soak in the ride through the bush in our private open-air Land Rover.


Thanks to the incredible skill of our safari leader Mike and our fearless tracker Patrick we were able to get within a few meters of every single one of the Big Five (lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards and cape buffalo).


One of the best parts of safari is parking your vehicle and allowing nature to run its course all around you. Preoccupied with their cape buffalo kill, this pride of 12 adults and six lion cubs barely noticed us watching them feast, nap, play and go about their evening.


While the parents were busy digesting, this lion cub got his chance to dine. Putting his new incisors to the test on a rib cage five times his size, this cute cub would make even a vegetarian say awwwwwww.


Cape Buffalo are one of the fiercest animals in South Africa, constantly honing their battle techniques fighting off lions, hyenas and rival herds. If this old codger could talk we’re certain his war stories would fill volumes.


With four game drives and one walking safari under our belt we had seen four of the Big Five, only missing the elusive leopard. Patrick and Mike were not going to let us leave Sabi Sabi with an 80% on our report card. On our last game drive we rounded the corner to find this incredible cat protecting his dinner from the hyenas below. At one point the leopard dropped the 75kg kudu from the tree, forcing him to leap down 15 feet to clutch it in his jaws and scamper back up the tree as two hyenas literally leaped for the hind legs of the carcass. It was straight out of a National Geographic view this rapid-fire photo sequence here).


While many people go to Africa in search of the Big Five, we think the bird life is often times just as majestic as the mammals. Here, a Lilac Breasted Roller (or “troupant” in Afrikaans) perched on a tree branch, dancing around and fluffing his feathers with each snap of the shutter. Fun Fact: In Afrikaans culture, men would often propose by wrapping a feather from the troupant (which translates to wedding ring) around his wife-to-be’s finger.


The shapes you find in the African wild are like nothing you will find anywhere on earth. This elephant ear was calling my name and the many textures of his skin created a wonderful juxtaposition to the sun’s shadows.


An evening game drive isn’t complete without a “sundowner.” We had never heard of such a thing until Africa but now we’re in love with the concept: When the sun goes down, park your vehicle at a lookout point, pop a cork, and toast the day! To take this idea to the next level, Earth Lodge sets their sundowners up with a full bar and appetizers served on a magical cocktail table hooked to the hood of the car.


As the sunlight bled from the sky over the Sabi Sands, and the ice clinked around in our low-ball glasses, most would assume the day had come to a close…that is until our tracker Patrick fired up his spotlight for the night game drive. We spotted a slew of nocturnal critters as we wound our way back to camp for a delicious dinner and a night of unforgettable story swapping.

Note: Sabi Sabi invited us to be their guests; however, all opinions are our own.

Much love from Sabi Sands,
Mike & Anne
www.HoneyTrek.com

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