A safari anniversary In South Africa
Jessica Cater on her safari experience in the Thornybush game reserve, South Africa, and how it is the best way to celebrate a wedding anniversary.
Having reached our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband and I chose to celebrate the occasion with a special trip. Going on safari is our favourite type of holiday, so we headed off to South Africa and after a few days visiting friends we made our way to the Thornybush game reserve. It was a baking hot day and we were very happy to reach the comfort of our canvas room; to call it a tent would be doing it a great disservice. It’s a wonderful combination as you have all the benefits of a room (en suite shower and bathroom, double vanity sink, lovely mosquito-netted four-poster bed, plenty of storage space, along with tea and coffee making facilities), but you are still connected to the bush and can hear the sounds of the outdoors. The camp isn’t fenced, so as we sat quietly on our deck we were able to see some impala and different small antelope wandering around.
2We easily fell in to the safari routine of ‘early to bed, early to rise’ as it’s important to be active when the animals are to maximise your chances of seeing them in action. Although it feels a little odd to go to bed at 9pm on holiday when you’re an adult, in effect you just shift your day forward by a few hours.
After an early morning cup of tea and ‘rusks’ (honestly more appetising that it sounds – rusks are a kind of rustic biscotti) we set off at about 6am. A beautiful female cheetah was out and about looking for an early morning meal, and while we saw her stalking a small herd of impala she became a bit too eager, making her run from too far out and scattering them everywhere. She looked pretty well fed, but there was no breakfast for her that morning. Then we discovered we were really in luck! We knew a wild dog pack had made a den in the area, but we’d hardly dared hope that they would still be there. Africa’s most endangered predator doesn’t stay in one place for very long, but there they were – nine pups of about one month, and four adults. Bizarrely they were sharing their den with a warthog, which our ranger said he had never heard of before, but it seemed to be working. Being able to spend time watching the pups play and chase each other around, picking up sticks and leaping at low branches was a wonderful experience.
That evening, we were treated to a special anniversary dinner on the deck of our ‘room’. Just being able to dine outside was a special occasion itself, but our anniversary was made perfect when we heard lions roaring out in the bush while enjoying our delicious meal.
Over the next few days, we went on safari whenever possible. Not every drive was as eventful as the first, but we did look down from the banks of a dry riverbed on an elephant browsing below, found a mother and young cheetah sunning themselves on a termite mound, watched a beautiful herd of zebra in the late afternoon sun, and get peered at by a very curious giraffe.
On our very last morning, we took the chance of seeing the wild dogs again and went back to the den – thankfully they were still there. The adults had made a kill and were feeding the young, which led to a frenzy of excited yipping, and an opportunity for us to see how the pack interacted with each other. The only downside was that their prey looked very similar to a certain warthog…
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