Last week my family went on a little adventure to the Pilanesberg game reserve called Kwa Maritane. My mom had a friend come and stay with us from Nashville, America. And what’s the first thing you do when in Africa? Go to see the lions and elephants of course! Fortunately for the visitor, Derek, they weren’t in our backyard like some people may think… We left really, really early in the morning (like 4:00 am early) and we arrived at around 6:00. The Pilanesberg is in the North West province of South Africa, which isn’t too long of a journey from Joburg. Although we were all incredibly sleep deprived on the way, a beautiful sunrise was caught!

Game drives are usually done very early in the morning, as the animals are waking up, or really late in the afternoon once it’s started to cool down. Because we didn’t stay the night at the reserve, we did the game drive in our own vehicles. This has its pros and cons. I think there’s a slightly more exciting element to experiencing it in a proper game drive vehicle, with a skilled game ranger. But then again, in your own vehicle you can kind of do your own thing and go at your own pace, which is also a bonus.

Kwa Maritane is a really beautiful bush lodge, with some breathtaking views. I always seem to forget how blessed we are to have such sights, literally outside our windows. While people come from all over the world to experience such beauty.

The second part of our adventure begun as soon as we completed all the admin-y things required. We all had some juice from our handy cooler box and we were ready to spot some animals!

We spotted a lot of zebra’s, a lot of rhinos and a lot of buck in the early morning. But what we were really looking for was giraffe and elephants. Of course we were also hoping for the really fascinating game, like the lions, leopards and all those scary ones – but unfortunately we didn’t get that lucky. I guess it all depends on being at the right place at the right time, but that is obviously never certain.

I must say though, zebra’s are so beautiful! Being so close to all of these animals is such an amazing feeling, and it’s so much greater to see them in their natural habitat. Instead of constrained in small cages that grants them nothing near to what they need from the wild. (But anyway, that’s another issue!)

After driving for a bit, we stopped at a covering that overlooked a lake. It was so beautiful, especially so early in the morning. But it was also so saddening to hear that the lake used to be a lot more full. Apparently the water has gone down so much with all the droughts we’ve been having… And that’s really heartbreaking.

We saw a few gnu’s and bucks around the lake, but nothing too exciting. However, it was extremely calming and peaceful sitting here and looking out. These are the things we take for granted in life, and we have to try be more aware of appreciating these little things.

Once we had been here for a little while, we decided it was certainly time for some good breakfast! We made our way back to the lodge, for a breakfast of: eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, fruit, yoghurt, pastries – basically everything that you can think of! And my word, it was delicious 🙂

The time had flown past us so quickly while we had been awing over the animals and then devouring this food. But we wanted to see more and make the most of our trip. So we went down to the watching room where you can see directly onto the watering hole! We followed a narrow corridor all the way down, into a really silent, although very hot, room. And here we sat and hoped for some action.

We mainly saw birds here, but there was a very sleepy warthog under a tree too! He kept reminding us of Pumba singing ‘Hakuna Matata’! (Please tell me you’ve watched The Lion King?)

This watering hole is actually really cool. It’s filmed constantly and you can watch it live on the internet. And then if you’re lucky, you’ll catch some elephants enjoying some cool splashes, or other animals living it up around the hole.

After we had decided that we weren’t going to see much else here, we hopped in our game drive vehicles. We went on a different route, in hopes of spotting more animals, before we made the journey back home again.

This time, we were lucky! We saw giraffes, rhinos AND elephants! (my absolute favourite). The rhino was sitting with its baby under a tree, and as we approached it didn’t appear too happy. He (or she) got up and nudged the baby. I thought it might have started charging at us! Fortunately though he just stood there, possibly posing for some pictures? Probably not though, but still it was really fascinating to see.

The giraffes and elephants were a lot less scary, and so, so, so cute! I love giraffes too – especially the baby ones. Baby animals are always so damn cute, no matter what animal they are. Actually, baby anything is cute!

The giraffes seemed to be in a little family of dad, mom and baby. If you have never fed a giraffe, please put it on your bucket list. They are even more adorable up close. They’re exactly like Melman, the giraffe in Madagascar! Purple tongues, HUGE eyes, and just plain goofy and precious.

I have some more up close photo’s that I took when we went to the lion park last week as well. I’ll do a post on that soon. You have to see the giraffe that we fed there!

Lastly, we said hello to the ellies before we headed back. They were just hanging around and eating some food. We didn’t manage to get very close though and the others were hidden behind trees and whatnot. This guy though did make himself available for a few shots, thankfully. 😉

And that was our beautiful day trip to the Pilanesberg, Kwa Maritane. We ended up following a few cars and proper game vehicles during the day. The game rangers are skilled in tracking animals, and so if they’re stopped at a certain point for a long period, it’s almost guaranteed there’s a VERY GOOD REASON. That’s the top tip of the post: Follow the game rangers!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear from you about any trips you’ve taken to game reserves! And if you’ve never been, is it something you’d like to do?


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