The Big Five in One Drive
Admiral Travel Safari Specialist Michael Distler gives his recap on his recent experience escorting a group of travelers through South Africa just this past July:
What is the best problem to have when traveling on a safari experience? When guests have seen so much on their very first game drive that they could go home the following day and consider themselves lucky with what they’ve witnessed. This is when the real magic begins, boxes of “must see” have been ticked and travelers can now settle in without feeling the need to rush from one sighting or activity to the next.
Even after diving with Great White Sharks and touring in an open door Huey combat helicopter through Cape Town, the first day on safari hit many in the group like a punch across the jaw. In the very first game drive, they witnessed all of the big 5 – in one single drive! For those of you not familiar with what the big 5 refers to, that is the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros. The typical goal for any safari traveler is to see all of these 5 animals in one trip, to see all in one drive is almost un-heard of!
The trick to planning any experience is to keep it varied, personalized, and work with great partners. Even after such a great first drive, I knew we were just getting started. The out-of-ordinary sightings continued. Guests witnessed a rare bush porcupine just before nearly running head on into an elephant while on foot in Kapama Game Reserve. They also witnessed another kill as a single young male lion took down a buffalo!
We were only halfway through the safari experience with the feeling that it couldn’t possibly get better, but we still had Londolozi. As we moved to their private game reserve situated in the Sabi Sand Reserve, the theme of phenomenal sightings maintained as guests witnessed cubs only a few weeks old, a tree climbing lion and hyenas chasing a leopard off a fresh kill (which it then stole back and hoisted up a tree).
At Londolozi, a new surprise awaited travelers at every turn. A few of our athletes took a bush run with vehicles closely monitoring in front and behind them. Others joined a ‘Camp Crawl’ where a new drink was waiting upon arrival at each camp. Our shutter bugs gained expert insight into shooting and editing before having massive canvas prints generated onsite. Some of the group visited the local village before joining the rest for a very special bush breakfast.
My personal favorite moment was when we enjoyed an amazing sundowner on our final evening before sitting around the fire with an old friend and guide named David (aka “Doyle”). Doyle played guitar and sang local South African songs before inviting the group to belt out some American classics such as “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey. It was quite the spectacle as you could imagine…
This group traveled across the world for some great wildlife sightings and while that was accomplished beyond expectations, everyone returned with much more than they could have anticipated. The moral of the story? Every day on safari is different, there is always more to be seen and new adventures to be had.