Being woken up at the crack of dawn while on holidays isn’t usually my idea of fun. But when you’re waking in the small hours to spot the Big 5, it’s well worth missing some shut-eye.
My Safari experience is at the Madikwe Game Reserve just south of the Botswana border.
Covering a vast 75,000 hectares, Madikwe is one of the largest game reserves in the country.
Not only is it home to the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) but also to the rare African Wild Dog.
Also known to be sighted around the reserve are cheetah, zebra, giraffe more than 300 resident and migratory birds.
Setting out early in the jeep is invigorating. The air is fresh so we wrap ourselves tightly in the warm blankets provided.
Our experienced ranger says early mornings are great for spotting fresh tracks.
The morning is still and clear but our adrenaline is racing as we anticipate what we will uncover.
Silence falls over the jeep as we watch slinky cheetahs stretch, before spotting a lively pack of rare African wild dogs play.
We watch in awe as a giant, wrinkled elephant trots by just a metre from our jeep, before admiring the elegance of the giraffes.
Every safari is completely unique.
On our evening safari, we go to see a lion on foot because the path is too narrow for our jeep. A hair-raising adventure, only to be embarked on with a knowledgeable ranger.
We stand behind out ranger, watching the lions toothy yawn.
I’ve never felt so alive.
“Stay behind me,” he says. “Just a few steps closer and we will aggravate him”.
It’s a fine line.
Another wonderful aspect of Safaris is setting up for a sundowner drink with some freshly barbequed meat and strips of biltong.
Our ranger and spotter create a makeshift bar in the middle of the African game reserve. Life doesn’t get better than this.
At times safari can be a waiting game, but it’s an exciting wait, for you never know what majestic beauty is about to greet you.