South African wildlife is off the scale, but you don’t even have to go on safari to experience it, there is plenty (sometimes a little too much) right here in our neighbourhood backyard.
I’ve variously written about and/or where possible photographed the spiders, snakes, birds and the scorpion that we’ve encountered around the estate and occasionally in our home. However, I’d never managed to get a really good look at our resident monitor lizard, until now…
Check out this bad boy heading off to chomp on his fish. He (or could it a be a she?) lives just down at the end of our road in a small nature reserve where I walk our dog. Easily two metres or more from top to tail, he could easily be mistaken for some kind of small crocodile.
What the most ‘exciting’ wildlife encounter you’ve had in your neighbourhood?
Being in the bush can be slightly terrifying. There was an awful moment on our third game drive when I knew I was going to have to request a loo stop. It turns out everybody bursting and we all took turns to have a wild wee. Even though we had been desperate to see a leopard, were very much hoping that for those few moments at least that we didn’t come across one.
There was another incident where, as Pickle ran toward me in nothing but swimming shorts and sandals, I spotted a skinny snake and shoved my surprise boy into our room mid stride. It was most likely a harmless garden variety one, but we couldn’t identify it from the guide’s snake manual, so we’ll never know.
Despite these terrors, we loved every minute of our bush break.
There was the gorgeous scenery. There was the fact that we were fed – fed often and fed well. There was a lovely moment in the early evening when a mobile mini bar popped out of the safari truck ready for sundowners with biltong and other treats.
…and of course there were all the magical animal, bug and bird sightings. So let me very quickly finish telling you about those….
Sorry, I’m not quite done writing about the bush yet. Here we continue on our safari quest to spot the Big 5 (or in our case the Big 4).
Game Drive 2:
Guide: “What would you like to try to see today?”
Us: “A leopard please.”
We set off with high spirits, very much hoping to spot one.
En route to leopard territory our guide stopped and pointed out a curvy trail through the sand. “What do you think made this kind of trail kids?” she quizzed. I bit my tongue, desperate to shout out the correct answer. “Er, a rhino?” said one of the children. “Try again”, said the guide. I’m now bursting to shout out “it’s a snake track, ha ha, it’s so obvious, can’t you see it’s a snake shaped trail made by a snake. Easy peasy.”.
“Is it an elephant?” asked one of the children. “Doh” I thought to myself.
“Yes, that’s right, well done” said the guide. “The elephant sometimes drags its trunk along the ground leaving this kind of wavy mark”. I nodded enthusiastically as if I had known the answer all along and said nothing.
Ages ago I wrote about spotting The Big 2.5 on safari. Yes, I realise that the idea is to spot the Big 5, but we only spotted half of them last time. You can read more about that little adventure HERE.
We just had another bash in the bush recently and came away with a much improved result – 4 out of 5.
So which of the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo) did we see this time?
Many come to South Africa just to go on a ‘Big 5’ safari. That would be lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant in case you were wondering. Pilanesberg National Park is a convenient 2 hour drive from Jo’burg and malaria free, so it was a no-brainer choice for our first weekend getaway.
Upon arrival we had a quick pep talk (or should I say indemnity disclaimer) alerting us to three primary dangers lurking in the grounds of our lodge.
1.Electric fences 2. Foot-skewering elephant thorns. 3. SNAKES