My love for animals and travel led me to South Africa in November 2014, and after doing a great deal of research on the perfect place to base myself when in the Kruger National Park, I decided on a week at Motswari Private Game Reserve. I flew in from Dubai and stayed overnight in Johannesburg before catching my early morning flight to Hoedspruit and then heading to the lodge, which is nestled within the beautiful Timbavati Nature Reserve.
After my arrival at Motswari, and a very nice warm welcome from the staff, the plan was to do an afternoon game drive immediately. Unfortunately, the other guests had not arrived in time due to bad weather, but fortunately for me, the game drive was not cancelled and I was extremely lucky that I was taken as the only one guest for the afternoon safari.
I will never forget this particular game drive. I saw the Big Five within 90 minutes, including two leopards. I was very close to the elephants and I could feel the vehicle vibrating when they started ripping the trees out for their dinner. I was able to take some incredible photographs during the drive. On arrival at the lodge that evening, I was pleasantly surprised, yet again, to see another leopard resting on the veranda of one of the bungalows within the camp! What a day – full of surprises and incredible experiences.
The next day, the leopard from the evening before was spotted close to the lodge and I had a very good opportunity to take photos in the beautiful morning light. After the morning game drive and a very delicious breakfast, I went back to my bungalow and spent some time resting on my veranda and taking in the view. I soon realized that lots of animals just passed by. After I had installed and positioned my tripod, a kingfisher came and swallowed a big fish just in front of my bungalow. An incredible sight to witness.
On the afternoon game drive that same day, we found a herd of rhinos at a water hole. They were not shy, and I had the opportunity to take a couple of good photos of them in the spectacular afternoon light conditions.
Later, I went on a walking safari and it was amazing getting so close to the animals. I saw a herd of giraffe, monkeys and other smaller mammals. A truly incredible experience! On the way back to the car, I heard a loud cracking sound and suddenly a huge male elephant bull stood in front of us. He displayed rather aggressive behavior and I was immediately scared to take photos because of the noise of the camera shutter. Our guide was facing him and stared into his eyes for a while before the massive elephant turned around and walked away. He hadn’t gone far before he suddenly turned around, and decided to come back towards us and repeat the same procedure. Finally, he turned around and left us for good, having made his point loud and clear. In that moment, I was relieved and started taking photos again. After this unexpected adventure, it was definitely time for a sundowner. I still could not believe what I had seen.
The next day was full of surprises again: a leopard hunting impalas; a huge herd of elephants; and finally, a group of wild dogs which I had never seen before in my life and are considered a very rare sighting.