Searching for the Big Five

There’s never enough time.

OK yes I was in South Africa for about 5 weeks but somehow (I spent too much time at the beach) I didn’t give myself enough time to go up to Kruger National Park, the crown of the country’s national parks system. But rather than despair over my poor planning I quickly looked into the possibility of spotting the big five in a private game reserve. By sheer chance I heard about the Nambiti Private Game Reserve which was located only about 1 hour away from my hostel in the Northern Drakensberg region. This could really happen!

There's always time to enjoy a cold beer, especially when there are no lions around.

There’s always time to enjoy a cold beer… with no lions around.

Just one catch though… you need a car to reach Nambiti. I didn’t have a car.

But things have a way of working out when you least expect it. Later that day I met 3 Swiss travellers who had a car and were interested in seeing some wildlife. Win! We made some phone calls and arranged to have lunch and go on a game drive the next day.

NOTE The game drives (320 rand) have to be booked with one of the lodges within the reserve, not the reserve itself. It seemed strange at first, but made sense once we got there.

All of the lodges are luxury resorts set within the game reserve. We had a very posh buffet lunch (120 rand) at the Springbok Lodge, chilled out by the pool, then got our cameras ready for the main event, the game drive! Riding in heavily modified Landcruisers, we set off to find the big five: African elephants, rhinos, cape buffalos, lions, and cheetahs.

Dodging cows on the road to Nambiti

Dodging cows on the road to Nambiti

The game drive is exactly what you would expect: you drive around for a few hours looking for game. There are other vehicles driving around the reserve at the same time as you, but not so many that it feels like a tourist trap. We had a short break for snacks and drinks as the sun was setting but outside of that we were in the Landcruiser the whole time. While we did see lots of animals, I’m still a bit confused and disappointed that we didn’t see any elephants nor any cheetahs. We literally made no attempt to find the elephants. It was unclear to me whether we had no time for it which is doubtful or that there were no elephants in the reserve at that time. Anyhow… between the lunch, lounging by the pool, seeing all the animals, and getting bullied by two cows on the drive home it was a fun and memorable day!

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Have you ever been on a safari or game drive? If yes, what animals did you see and where did you go? If no, would you be interested in going on one?

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