Safari, So Good

As if out of nowhere, two massive waterbuck charge from the thicket on our left, rumble down the grassy slope and splash violently into the previously tranquil watering hole straight ahead. Are they being chased? By what? Where is it now?

Wait! One of the waterbuck is turning around, swimming for shore. The lead buck is now safely across, water dripping from its dark, brown fur as it stands on the bank and looks back for its mate. We sit, watching as the second buck climbs up onto dry land. A small herd of zebra stroll in from our right to survey the scene.

Everyone, and everything, is quiet.

Is there a predator nearby? A lion? A leopard? Why won’t the other waterbuck cross?

Finally, the animal finds a more narrow, shallow spot, crosses the water, joins its buddy and bounds off into the brush.

I look across at the zebra, the water again still enough to reflect their stripes. I start the car. We drive on.

And that is how our 4-day safari in Pilanesberg National Park began: with an afternoon “self-drive” game drive in the sunset beach Kia Rio.

Waterbuck swims across watering hole

Due to a bit of a scheduling error, my mom, my Mike and I were not booked on the official lodge game drive on our first night at Kwa Maritane, so we opted to drive ourselves. While I am no ranger, we actually managed to have some decent sightings, including a white rhino munching along a riverbed and a black-backed jackal hunting for ground birds.

Later that night, we joined fellow lodge guests at a “bush braai” out in an enclosed (read: safe from lions) a short drive away from the main buildings. It was a nice introduction to safari-dom for my mom, who was the only one of the three of us who had not experienced such an adventure.

Mom & Mike at bush braai

This particular adventure featured:

Giraffe sauntering home at sunset (the star above is actually the planet Jupiter)

And the list goes on…

Though we didn’t get to see all of the Big Five – the buffalo were hanging out in a remote section of the park and the leopard remained elusive – we did, I think, have ourselves a nice little safari. But don’t take my word for it. Judge for yourself, check out the rest of the photos.

Oh, and just ask mom & Mike!