Am I really about to embark on my first ever African safari experience? You’re damn right I am.
And that’s exactly what happened in August 2015; my first genuine safari!
We were picked up in a minibus with a guide and driven to the park where we were drove around the first part looking out for the animals. It was a very successful first safari in my opinion! We saw elephants, one of which was a magnificent and gigantic bull elephant, who the guide said was best to avoid getting close to as he could be in “musth” which is when male bull elephants get a bit frisky as their testosterone levels rise, which can cause them to be quite aggressive and dangerous.
After a couple of hours of driving in the minibus, we reached one of the lodges in the middle of the park where we were provided with a beautiful buffet lunch and a chance to relax by the pool for a little while.
After lunch we transfered into a proper game drive vehicle and got to go on a proper search for the precious main attraction animals! This second game drive was with one of the park’s rangers from whom we learnt a lot about all of the animals and of the various poaching risks in the park etc. During the drive the rangers from different vehicles would all radio each other letting each other know if they spot any of “the big 5” anywhere. The big 5 are made up of the elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino and they are the main African game animals that draw everyone to the safari experience.
At one point we stopped at a little rangers station in the park where the rangers put out some snacks and some drinks for everyone. We were joined by some cheeky little monkeys who were hanging around in the trees above us, probaby hoping to steal some food once we left!
At one point during the drive it came over the radio that there was a pride of lions gathered by one of the lakes, so we headed over to see if we could spot them. When we got there it was obvious the lions were definitely still there, as there were about 6 or 7 game vehicles huddled together with tourists snapping away. Lions are hilarious in the fact that they are pretty lazy – male lions especially! In the wild they can sleep for on average 20 hours a day, but even up to 24 hours a day! Lionesses obviously do all of the hard work though – mainly the hunting. So when we approached the pride, we were not suprised, but still amused, to see them all laying lazily around, barely even giving us silly humans a second glance.
We also saw lots of beautiful giraffe families, which made for perfect photo opportunities!
This second game drive carried on until it was dark, where we could see the nocturnal animals come out to play. At one point we drove up to a lake and the ranger pointed his headlights out there, to which we were met with hundreds of blinking, reflective eyes. The lake was full to the brim with hippos. Hippos, if you didn’t know, are actually one of Africa’s biggest killers. They are freaking awesome, but they are also super territorial and you do NOT want to go up and stroke one I’ll tell you that much! At Glen Afric we were actually chased by hippos in the dark, which wasn’t a barrel of laughs – although when I’m nervous I do tend to chuckle! All fun and games until I’m the only one running the wrong way. Good one April. But hippos are mainly found in national parks, and if you stick to the guidelines and don’t do anything stupid, hippos – like most other animals – pose no threat to humans.
My first safari experience was aaaamazing and I am so glad it turned out to be so successful. Pilanesberg is a much lesser known national park in South Africa compared to others such as Kruger etc. But I would highly recommend it as there is a high chance of you seeing a lot of the big 5 animals and many other beautiful, wild creatures!