South Africa Day 4 (part 2): Sabi Sand Night Safari

Although the safari in Sabi Sand does not normally take place on a Sunday, we were given special permission to take part in what turned out to be a very memorable adventure. Sabi Sand is a private game reserve bordering in part the Kruger National Park. We were collected from our hotel and driven to the reserve, arriving at about 5 p.m. After being transferred to 4×4 vehicles we set off on tracks in the bush and soon found a group of impala and wildebeest. We were told they often moved together as the different animals would look after each other and warn of danger. We then found a herd of zebras and were surprised when our driver suddenly accelerated and made a dash to an area some distance away. He had heard on the radio that a leopard had been spotted. We arrived to find two other vehicles and a very lazy leopard, half asleep and tucked almost out of sight in a bush. The two other 4x4s soon left and we were about to do the same when the leopard got up, stretched and started walking away. The other two vehicles were quickly summoned and together we followed the leopard for over an hour. We were told that the animals were quite used to the vehicles and realised that they posed no threat and so we were ignored. This was probably the highlight of the whole holiday. It also meant that I had completed sightings of the ‘Big 5’.

When the sun was beginning to set and we had left the leopard to wander in peace, we pulled up and were given a drink and nibbles. At that moment a family of elephants appeared and in the middle of the group a tiny baby only a few days old. Once the sun had set a young boy, who was perched on a seat on the front of the vehicle, shone a searchlight around to see what other animals we could find. Several small animals and birds were caught in the light. We returned to the camp headquarters, where a campfire was burning and were given a meal sitting around the fire. More was to come when we started back for home in a mini-bus and we were stopped by a pride of lions spread out across the road in front of us.