Nick was fortunate to make quite a number of business trips to South Africa from the mid 90's to 2001 and spent some weekends exploring the country and experiencing game reserves. He became so passionate about the country that he booked the first family holiday there in 2000. The rest of the family also became hooked on that trip and four more visits have followed.
|2000||Cape Town, Hermanus & Northern Province|
|2001||Kwazulunatal - Umfolozi Hluluwe, Tembe, St Lucia|
|2002||Swaziland, Kruger Park, Tshukudu, Botswana & Pilansburg|
|2005||Kruger Park & Pilansburg|
|2006||Kwazulunatal - Ithala, Ndumo, Umfolozi Hluluwe & Mkhuze|
The highlight of the 2000 trip was joining Petronel & Herb of Deep Green on a giraffe capture day. Giraffes had to be captured to be moved to another game park and we went along to watch and help. First a giraffe was darted and chased through the bush before being loaded onto a trailer. Next a large boma was built and two giraffes were initially herded by helicopter before being coaxed by beaters into the boma at the end of which was a large truck. It was a full day that none of us will ever forget.
We have always organised our trips ourselves. We rent a car and book game parks on the route we wish to take. All this can be done over the web, but we would recommend that you take advice before doing the same thing. South Africa is a wonderful country and we have never been made to feel anything other than welcome there. However, crime is rife you need to have some local knowledge before going if you are unaccompanied. The benefit of being independent is that you can do things at your own pace - we would never have seen the things we have or spent as long watching some spectacular animal behaviour if we had been on a group trip.
The prime objective of our South African trips has been to watch wildlife. Cynics might say that we could do that in a zoo or at Knowsley Safari Park, but there is nothing to beat the thrill of catching sight of a wild animal in its natural environment and then observing it. The natural environment for thse animals is provided in the form of game parks and some smaller ones onlt take a day to traverse whereas two weeks in the Kruger Park would not give you enough time to get all the way around.
We would recommend that if you go on a "safari" type holiday that you all agree that this is the priority of the holiday as you will need to apply plenty of dedication to it. Gamewatching starts before dawn and can be extended beyond dusk by going on a nightdrive. Nick's attitude is that if you are using valuable vacation time and have flown half way around the world then you should spend every waking second (and some sleeping ones too) to gamewatching and that you can relax or sleep when you are at home. He has had to temper this mania with the wishes of the rest of the family so we now get a short break during the day.
We don't stay in hotels, but prefer staying in game parks and in tents where possible. This puts you as close to nature as you can get and none of us have been eaten by lions yet, so it must be safe! Here is a selection of pictures of accommodation we have enjoyed in South Africa.
|Serenity Lodge. This is as posh as we have ever gone., but it was worth it. It was sheer bliss after the long flight and a six hour thrash along the motorway. It was less than an hour from the Swaziland border.|
|Our tent at Tembe Elephant Park. This was our first ever night in a safari tent and we had a warthog burrowing under the tent all night. After that we were hooked!|
|A rondaavel at Mopani camp in the Kruger Park|
|Tuli Lodge in Botswana - we spent a fantastic New Year's Eve ther in 2002/03|
|Thalu Lodge in Ithala Park. This isolated building was at the far end of the park so we were all alone with the wildlife.We saw plenty of antelope and giraffes and heard elephants breaking trees down by the river. No photograph or video could do justice to the magic of the nights we spent there.|
|Camp fire at Thalu Lodge. Each evening we lit a roaring fire abd listened to the sounds of the bush. It was fantastic - a truly uplifting experience.|
We could write several books about our experiences in South Africa so all we can do on this site is give a small taster of the fantastic times we have enjoyed. If you want tips and advice please feel free to email us.