The sunset on the island Mljet Croatia
Image of Plilanesberg National park plan with big four: Lion, Leopard, Rhino and Elephant

Our memories from South Africa - Safari

Exploring the very best of South African safari is a very popular attraction.

There are several agencies offering different programs so check a few before making a final selection. Many people would choose to visit a nearby zoo rather than seeing these magnificent animals in their real living environment. There is nothing wrong with that either.

We decided to take the private Mike Condy Safari, offered by a great and experienced guide who took us to the Pilanesberg National Park located around 2 hours driving distance from Johannesburg. The beauty of this place is that it has wild life freely roaming nature and lots of beautiful animals. Every day predators kill prey for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It sounds odd, but it’s very true ...and visitors would not be exempt either.

Here is our story through pictures and a little bit of explanation:

My wife, me and the guide of safari tour

We met Mike, our very professional and experienced guide, at 4:00 am at the lobby of our hotel. It was early, but counting on 2 hours driving time, Mike wanted to show us as many animals as possible, especially the big five: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo.

Mike’s safari had a few very important rules:

♣ There is no guarantee for how many animals we’ll be able to see;

♣ Some animals tend to take a nap after an early breakfast and it’s hard to find them later on, so an early arrival to the park may have an advantage;

♣ During the safari, getting out of his minivan is absolutely not allowed unless he advises it's safe;

♣ Mike had very high respect for the park and animals living there. As we're on their territory, it’s mandatory to respect their comfort;

♣ This means if animals are on the road, stop the van, turn off the engine and enjoy the view;

♣ It’s around an 8 hour safari, but Mike and his wife, who joined us on this tour, prepared plenty of food and water.

♣ In short, there was nothing to worry about.

It was early morning when we entered the Park...

...and in front of us walking on the road.

While driving, we started to see animals on both sides....

Everything around us was green and beautiful, but where were animals?

Wildebeests, also called gnus, are antelopes in the genus Connochaetes, look scary and mad.

Impalas are quiet; notice one captured from the back! They called them "African McDonald’s"

The common tsessebe or sassaby is one of five subspecies of African antelope

Black-backed jackal: 12-14 in height have been seen taking down a wounded rhino.

There were several other animals we saw that early morning but the goal was still to see the big five.

The other guide told Mike that lions were seen in a certain area, so we rushed toward that direction, not to miss the rare oportunity...

I really wanted to see a Giraffe, and while chasing lions suddenly, I’ noticed one giraffe, then another one, and then many more...

Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth. Their legs alone are taller than many humans - about 6 feet. They can run as fast as 35 miles an hour over short distances, or cruise at 10 mph over longer distances. A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground

They are also great protection for smaller animals that can easily become food for predators like lions. In the third image, you can notice a lot of zebras and others small animals staying close to giraffes which can observe the horizon and spot danger.

I'm not sure what happens when they notice a lion, but the last image shows all of the giraffes with their necks high above the ground. Mike said that it’s a sign that a lion was around.

Driving carefully throughout the Park, Mike noticed a big crowd of people and cars parked on the side and watching the nearby red rock hill. What a surprise!!! The Leopard was resting on the edge of the cliff posing for cameras at a safe distance.

...and then comes the king...walking down the middle of the road among a lot of people and only looking forward. Not even one time did he turn his head back....Something we all should learn from...

Right after the first lion passed by, another one showed up...walking the same way. Mike told us the good news that apparently both of them already had breakfast...and they were only thirsty..

The safari was going really well, as by 8:00 am we have already seen two of big five. The rest of the day ahead of us was looking promising....We continued the adventure of exploring that huge area until we found one we were looking for...

Mr. Elephant was taking a nap parked on the middle of the road in the shade of the big tree...Mike turned off the engine and we just kept sitting very quietly enjoying this moment..

Later on we ran into several of them and it looked like they were all walking solo. They don’t need any protection so walking alone is just fine...what a gorgeous and huge animal..

We didn't see all of big five. Mike said that buffalo is almost impossible to be seen or one must be very lucky and we weren't...

However, we were really lucky as not a lot of people have seen White and Black rhinos in the same day....

To end, a few more from beautiful Africa...

That was the best of Safari! Next stop is Cape Town.