I was lucky enough to get to go to Africa this year. I visited South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
First up was Cape Town, South Africa where the highlight was taking a rather daunting cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain. I also saw some adorable penguins and brave baboons (one stole someone’s cookies).
Then it was off to Namibia to embark on a 4 day boat journey up and down the Zambezi River. The banks of the Zambezi abound with elephants, cape buffalo, warthogs, giraffes, impalas, hippos, baboons and more. I also went out in a small boat for water safaris where I got to see animals quite close up. The variety of wildlife is amazing. This part of my journey also included a day of going to the Chobe National Park in Botswana for a land safari. Even more animals! The jeep had to stop to let elephants cross the road, and zebras, and giraffes!
The next part of my whirlwind tour was Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. This is the highest water fall in the world, and it was very impressive. This was one of the most exciting parts of my trip because I got to ride an elephant!! The place I went for my elephant ride is an elephant sanctuary. All of the elephants there are either orphans or they were born there. They have a huge reserve that they live on when they’re not giving rides to lucky people like me. I know the reserve is big because I rode for over an hour and there was no boundary in sight. There are many completely wild animals there as well, such as cape buffalo, warthogs and impalas. The elephants are very relaxed and you can tell their caretakers are very fond of them. I was quite nervous when I first got on (they are huge!) but quickly got used to the height and loved the experience. After the ride I got to feed them. They have two ways of taking their food. If I said “trunk up” they put their trunk up and I threw the food in their mouth. If I said “trunk down” they curled their trunk down then the end up so the tip points up like a bowl and I put food in the trunk, then they transferred it to their mouth. And then, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, I got to pet a cheetah! The cheetah’s name is Sylvester and he was orphaned as a baby after a lion killed his siblings and chased his mother off. He was originally raised in a regular home with house cats but when he got big he was too rough to be kept there so he went to live at the sanctuary. He roams around the reserve when he’s not getting attention from visitors. There are wild cheetah there but Sylvester doesn’t think he’s a cheetah, he thinks he’s a house cat, so he ignores them.
The last part of my journey was back to South Africa, to Kruger National Park. I stayed at the Manyeleti Private Game Reserve concession, which is a private area attached to Kruger. I went out in a jeep every morning and afternoon to look for animals. All the favourites were there, elephants, zebra, warthogs, giraffe, impala, etc. Far, far too many animals to list them all. Even walking around the lodge I would see kudu or duiker antelope happily munching on leaves or elephants strolling by my window. Sometimes while in the jeep the elephants got a little too close and we had to back up pretty quickly to get out of their way. This is where I finally got to see lions. A pride of lions had killed a cape buffalo not far behind the lodge I was staying in. The lions were so beautiful! Although it was a bit gruesome to see them tearing apart their breakfast of buffalo. I also got a brief glimpse of rhinos. It’s so sad that these huge animals are terrified because poachers are constantly killing them for their horns. They have patrols that search for poachers but Kruger is the size of the country of Wales, so it’s a lot of area to cover. They have recently decided to move over 500 rhinos to smaller, more easily patrolled reserves.
Here are just a few of the many, many, many pictures I took!