Photos of Wildlife from our First Africa Safaris

White Rhinos

White Rhinos

Last week, we took a three day break from the boat yard work to go on our first Africa safaris to see some wildlife. We teamed up with our friends Paul and Gina from s/v Solace and went first to the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Game Reserve. One of the advantages of Richards Bay is that it is near several game reserves. iMfolozi is less than 90 minutes away. So we left early the first day and were driving through the gate by about 8 AM.

African Elephant

African Elephant

One of the first objectives apparently is to try and see the “Big Five” – African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, African Lion, Black Rhino, and the African Leopard. These were the animals that were the most dangerous to hunt on foot back in the day when shooting with guns was more popular than shooting photos. Within the first five minutes we found the Buffalo, and saw many of them that first day. We also found many elephants as well, including some close encounters. Although we found many white rhinos, the more rare black rhinos we never saw at iMfolozi, but we did find them later. We hired a guide for a night tour, and we found the African lions, but I haven’t processed those photos yet – that will be in a future post. On this trip, we never find the leopard – but, we tried really hard. We were told they are the hardest of the five to spot.

Kudu

Kudu

The experience of going to the game reserve was simply amazing! To see the wildlife truly in the wild, with large dangerous animals like elephants and rhinos only a few meters away with no fences or gullies between you is tantalizing. And the animals were so plentiful and so many varieties. It seemed like every moment we were on the edge of our seats not knowing what new treat would greet our senses. One of my favorite photos is of this kudu.

We saw herds of impala, wilderbeest (Gnu), buffalo, elephants, zebra, and kudu. We saw many pairs of rhinos and sometimes rhino calves, and warthogs. We saw a hyena, a cheetah, a nyala, bunch of baboon, a genet, hares and tortoise, bushbuck, duker, banded mongoose, and another mongoose. We also saw many kinds of birds.

Close Encounter

Close Encounter

We had some amazing unexpected encounters. We stopped on a narrow section of road to let a car from the opposite direction pass, when suddenly I looked to the left (I was driving) and saw three rhino just 5 meters away! The closest was a female facing us, and a male was trying to mount her from behind. Karen and Gina on the near side of the car both started to take pictures and I immediately started moving the car forward, but they both said “STOP” (they wanted to take pictures). I said “Are you crazy?!” – that rhino might move any second. I moved us a few feet forward and sure enough the rhinos moved right into the road and stopped the other car from moving. It was an impasse for a few moments, but the female rhino snorted and turned towards the male and he ran off. She was having none of him.

Elephant and tree

Elephant and tree

A few moments after that several elephants crossed the road, we got this great shot of a baby elephant waving its trunk at us. Then as we went down the road we had a large bull elephant appear just a few feet off the road next to us. He clearly saw us and moved to a tree and pushed it up several feet showing us how big he was (as a warning I think). We got some good pictures and moved carefully away.

That night we went on a guided tour and we got to see a pride of lions. All of my night photos were taken with a video camera which I need to process still, so you’ll have to wait for those photos. We also had a close encounter with a giraffe who crossed right in front of our truck appearing in our headlights suddenly. That was when we saw several of the nocturnal animals I mentioned in the list.

The next morning, we hired the same guide to take us on a early morning trip. That’s when we saw our first giraffe in daylight on a far away ridge. The guide also spotted a hyena on a far ridge. We didn’t find the lion in the spot from the night before. We did spot several more pairs of rhinos, another herd of elephant and many impala, nyala, kudu, etc. We literally saw hundreds of animals in 24 hours.

I had been disappointed initially at the fact the weather got cloudy and even sprinkled rain. But, the guide told us far more animals are seen when its not sunny. Before noon, we drove an hour towards the east to St Lucia. There we planned to visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park. They also have a wide range of African wildlife, and lots of wetland animals like hippos. We took a river tour in the evening, a night guided tour (which was a bit of a disaster which I’ll write about later), and a drive through the eastern park the next day.

Hippo Mouth

Hippo Mouth

The river boat tour was the highlight. We saw many hippos in the water, and saw some amazing hippo action. We also saw a couple of nile crocodile, and a wide range of birds. My two favorite birds were the Fish Eagle, and the beautiful large Goliath heron. We went on the evening tour, and it was the best time to go apparently.

Here is a small album of about 25 photos showing a highlight of the animals. I still need to process some of the night photos which include the pride of lion we saw. I’ll try to do more posts with more photos this week.


View full-sized slideshow

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2 Responses to Photos of Wildlife from our First Africa Safaris

  1. Gorgeous. I think that kudu was posing for you! And, how wild- literally- with the rhinos.

  2. nanag says:

    How exciting! I can tell that you had a wonderful time. When are the twins coming over for a safari? You will enjoy it much more when you show everything to them. Love to both of you, everyone misses you both.

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