Friday, November 26, 2010

Safari True Love

Wow, feels like I've been away forever! What a beautiful time my hubs and I had on our honeymoon. From a city to the jungle then to the deep blue. It felt like the most blissful whirlwind.

The best part of all was the safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa. It was everything that it's said to be and more. We love animals and it brought such a sense of peace and joy to see them roaming in their natural habitat and respected by visitors. We were very lucky to see the Big 5: the leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo. I found a new love for rhinoceros after seeing a baby white rhino of about 3 months taking a walk with mommy. We were also extremely fortunate to have a close encounter with the endangered black rhino that even our tracker, Andrew was seeing for the first time in 10 years. A video of that is at the end of this post.

A baby white rhino skipping along. It will be with mommy till it's about 4 years old.

We actually saw lions before we even checked in, on our short ride to the lodge. What a super welcome.

Each drive was guided by a highly experienced and qualified guide (that's Chris at the driver's seat) and tracker, Andrew who has the sharpest eyes to look out for footprints on the ground and animals hiding in camouflage.

Through my conversation with Andrew, I learnt that Kruger Park's strict conservation effort since becoming a reserve some 100 years ago has not only changed the lives of the community, but also the fate of animals. Poaching used to be one of the most common source of income for the locals but as they learn more about the real treasure of conserving the park and its natural inhabitants, things have changed for the better. There are even many poachers-turned-conservationists now and the safari lodges provide employment opportunities.

We stayed in a gorgeous suite at Singita Lebombo. The architecture mimics an eagle's nest tugged inconspicuously in nooks of the low mountain to enjoy the best vantage point blending in perfectly with the natural landscape, most importantly the structure minimises disruptions to the animals and environment. We watched the theatre with a cast of noisy hippos, water bucks, crocs, and flocks of birds from our room and each morning, we greeted deers having brekkie right at our doorstep.

Photo courtesy of Singita

Our home, amazingly sweet home for 5 days

Photo courtesy of Singita

Can you find the 4 crocs?

Me lazing in at our balcony

Breakfast buddy

What I love most about this place is its efforts to give back. Whilst some properties boast of community involvement, I'm skeptical. I played spy and casually interviewed some staff on the credibility of what's published in their website. True enough, as much as sensible, staff and supplies are sourced locally to help the village's economy. Education support for children and comprehensive training in F&B, hospitality and wildlife studies (for guides and trackers) for adults are taken seriously by Singita. Read more about its efforts here.

Chris sharing his knowledge about Kruger's beautiful nature on a walking safari.

I love 'em hippos!

Hornbill aka Flying Banana

It's the natural behaviour of the rhino to charge when it feels threaten. It usually stops and walks away when it sees that the perceived threat does not retaliate or isn't a danger afterall.

Our love for nature has grown through this experience and we feel the pain of human cruelty to their survival and subsequently, ours. God has blessed us with a balanced eco-system, let's do our part to protect it. Read more here.

It's so good to be back and there will be more honeymoon stories to follow.

share a little, or a lot! x


Pamie said...

It definitely looks like the walk in nature that we play out in our heads but have yet to experience.. glad you experienced it and shared it with us! :)

Zen said...

The pictures do not do it justice, Pam. You must see it for yourself. x