Safari Party: quick vacay to South Africa

A few weeks ago we again took the opportunity to get a out of Libreville for a few days. This time Ben needed the breather, and while Europe was wonderful, it was really only a vacation for me since he worked most of the time. So he was due for a respite, and of course I was happy to oblige. We knew we didn’t want to spend a lot of time traveling, so out of the handful of direct flight destinations available to us from Gabon, we decided Johannesburg would be the best option. On the advice of a friend here, I booked a safari in the Madikwe Game Reserve, a park about five hours north of Johannesburg, and man am I glad I did. It may have been the best vacation we’ve ever taken.  I’ll write a separate post on the lodge where we stayed, but for now I’ll share pictures of some of our sightings.

Madikwe is a “Big Five” game reserve, meaning it contains lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos (technically only black rhinos are part of the Big Five, but they are so rare these days that the white rhino has become an apt substitute for the typical tourist). We were lucky enough to see all five (even the black rhino!!!) during our three night stay.

Starting at top left, going clockwise: a small group of elephants at a watering hole, a lone buffalo trailing the herd, a leopard in a tree (photo courtesy of Ben), the elusive black rhino (a very rare spotting!), and a lion waking up for his evening prowl
From top left, moving clockwise: a small group of elephants at a waterhole, a lone buffalo trailing the herd, a leopard in a tree (photo courtesy of Ben), the elusive black rhino (a very rare spotting!), and a lion waking up for his evening prowl

Not to be outdone by the Big Five, plenty of other less dangerous, but no less fascinating, animals traversed our path during our adventure. We spotted wart hogs, hyenas, cheetahs, impalas, giraffes, and zebras to name a few. Speaking of zebras, did you know zebra is pronounced with a short e in British English?

top: cheetahs on the prowl; bottom: a herd of zebra
Top: cheetahs on the prowl; bottom: a herd of zebra (or zEHbra for all the Queen’s English adherents out there)

 

IMGP7066
A group of giraffes drinking at the waterhole (fortunately somebody hasn’t poisoned it)

 

The Jungle Patrol deems the park to be in tip-top shape
The Jungle Patrol deems the park to be in tip-top shape

After the safari, we spent an additional two nights in Johannesburg before heading back to Gabon. It was nice to be in a large sprawling city reminiscent of those in the States, but if I had to do it over again we would have spent only one “rest” night in Jo’burg before departing the following day. I imagine it’s a great place to live but as a tourist it’s just not an easy place to sight see and experience the culture. We did manage to visit a dairy farm just outside of town, and while it was quaint and fun for the kiddo, the real draw of coming to Johannesburg for us was getting out of town and into the wild. I did capture some artsy fartsy farm photos, though, so there’s that.

Irene Dairy Farm

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s