Don’t mention the elephant in the room…

Pilanesburg Nature ReserveFor the last few days we’ve been at a lodge in Pilansberg Nature Reserve, about 2.5 hrs from Johannesburg. The animals were introduced into the reserve in the 1980s, so live as wild animals but don’t migrate.  It’s very cool. You either go early in the morning (5.30am!) or late in the afternoon. We saw lots! Lions, elephants, rhinoceros, zebra, black-backed jackals, impala, vervet monkeys, warthogs, hippopotamus, mongoose, blue wildebeast, eland, kudu, bushbucks, maraboo storks, and lots of other birds, and, of course, giraffes. Want some pictures?

During the day, the kids really enjoyed the pool and a trip to Sun City, which is an enormous, cheesy resort, themed around a lost city (a la Indiana Jones), complete with wave pool, waterslides etc. etc. Everything was a made from concrete, made to look like rock, which for the geologists amongst us, was a little confronting.

Biggest hits of the African animal kingdom? For Jock, definitely the monkeys. He said, “I always wanted to see monkeys, and I never thought I would, and now we have. I love them!” Lill was thrilled to see wild giraffes, and Cec was happy with a mongoose, a relative of the meerkats. The elephants were a thrill for all of us, particularly a breeding herd of about 20 animals walking along the road in the morning. One of them trumpeted at us as it went past. It was crazy loud, making us all gigglingly scared, with a rush of adrenalin. The photo at the top is Jock’s response. We also loved spotting the baby animals, so super cute. Jock cracked up the group with talk of a zebra crossing.

For us, used to seeing animals only in a zoo, it took a little while, and an initial tinge of disappointment that that is a large dose of luck, and quite a bit of work in looking for the animals. Unlike Kruger, which Bill and I visited at Christmas time, which is criss-crossed with tracks, Pilansberg has not as many tracks, so the animals are often at quite a distance. With time and the realisation that we were actually in their habitat, made the sightings more memorable.

Tomorrow, at long last, Ghana…

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