Going on Safari in Africa has been a lifetime ambition of mine ever since the age of 10, and one which I achieved at age of 24 back in 2011.
As a kid I loved animals and watching wildlife documentaries. Michaela Stratton had my dream job on The Real Wild Show. My year 6 school project was entitled “Animals” with each chapter dedicated to information on a specific animal; it was around 30 A4 pages in total which is pretty impressive for a 10 year old.
More specifically I remember going the travel agents and collecting free Safari brochures so I could cut the pictures out of Elephants and Lions to pritt stick into my project… it was pretty much just pictures of Animals to be fair. However it was through collecting these brochures that I decided that I NEEDED to go on Safari.
Fast forward 14 years and I spent 6 weeks overlanding through Africa! Cape Town to Nairobi, 11,500km in total crossing 7 countries and visiting some of Africa’s best National Parks including:
- Estosha National Park (Namibia)
- The Okavanga Delta (Botswana)
- Chobe National Park (Botswana)
- Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)
- The Serengeti (Tanzania)
But more importantly achieving what every Safari goer aims to achieve! SEEING THE BIG FIVE!
For those of you that don’t know the Big Five is a name given by hunters to the five largest and most dangerous African mammals. The term now is used by tourists to see and not hunt them. The Big Five are
If you go on Safari you more than likely to see some elephants thanks to how well the Safari guides can track them down. I was fortunate enough to see quite a few from a combination of walking Safaris, River Boat cruises and from 4×4’s.
The below photo was taken from a river boat in Chobe National Park in Botswana
The next picture was taken at the edge of our campsite on top of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. The campsite had no barriers so wildlife were free to roam where they pleased. The Elephant walked right up to where we we’re, stood there for a few minutes before deciding to turn around and head back into the Jungle. All that stood in between myself and the Elephant was 30 feet of grass.
Rhinos are amongst the most endangered animals in the world due to hunting and to see this guy we had to go on a Walking Rhino Safari in Zambia. Our guides were able to take us right to where the Rhino was through satellite tracking, we parked nearby then proceeded on foot. We were in a small group of 5 with 2 guides, both with AK47’s for safety as Rhinos are known to charge. Luckily enough the Rhino in question was lying down so we were able to get really close, if he was standing up and more alert we would of never been able to get as so close. My heart was pounding like a jack hammer and would sink every time he flinched, it really was a nerve wracking but unforgettable experience.
The walking safari was around £60 but definitely worth it, this was my only Rhino encounter from spending 6 weeks in Africa.
If you’re lucky enough to spot Lion’s in the wild the chances are they are going to be lying down and resting. This was the case with all our Safari Lion encounters in which there were a few. In the midday heat they tend to rest and come alive at night or in the early morning when its cooler. The Ultimate Safari experience would be a Lion hunt.
We managed to get fairly close to this pair….
And even closer here!
Lucky for me this Lion wasn’t wild otherwise I would probably be missing a head right now. This was taken at a Lion conservation program in Livingstone, Zambia called Lion Encounter. Lion Encounter allows people to walk with these amazing animals and the money they make from tourism funds the project, there aim is to rehabilitate Lion’s back into the wild. This truly was an incredible experience which I would recommend to anyone and everyone.
These guys are the easiest of the Big Five to spot and seem to be everywhere. Although Buffalo’s normally stay in heard’s this guy was flying solo, this pic was taken at the bottom of the Ngorongoro Crater.
And Finally the elusive Leopard, this is the only photograph I have of one. They are few in numbers and notoriously hard to spot due to their spotted camouflage and the fact that they like to hide out in trees. We spotted this Leopard on Safari in the Serengeti and was the last of the Big Five to tick off the list.
Spotting the elusive was a big moment for us, it was the moment we completed the big five challenge. We managed to spot one on the very last day of Safari in the Serengeti after spending 6 weeks in Africa, it was all thanks to the amazing communication and tracking of the Safari guides. As soon as we saw the words “Leopard” appear on the radio we got excited! Then it was a mad 20 minute dash driving across the savanna hoping we wouldn’t be too late.
Naturally we celebrated by drinking Savanna Cider… everyone say Big Fiveeeeee!!