A Travellerspoint blog

Into the Wild

Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Aftica

View Around the World! - Part 3 on Where2FromHere's travel map.


From dawn until dusk, our African Safari days were filled with activities but, you wouldn't want it any other way. The jam-packed schedule ensured that we woulld experience the full spectrum of wonders this remarkable private game reserve in the African Bushveld had to offer. Our days went as follows: Wake up call 5 AM, Tea & Coffee 5:30AM, Morning Safari 6AM, Breakfast 10AM, Lunch 1PM, Afternoon-Evening Safari 4PM, Dinner 8PM. So on our first full day in camp we found ourselves in the heart of the African wilderness, surrounded by the iconic Bushveld landscape. The Bushveld is a vast, untamed region characterized by its unique mix of rolling grasslands, dense thickets, and towering trees. The air is filled with the distant calls of birds and the mating calls of the Impala, creating a symphony of nature that was uniquely Africa. And it's the wildlife that truly sets the Bushveld apart. This region is a haven for some of Africa's most iconic species, including the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo.

As we embarked on our first full day of exploration during the early morning drive at 6 AM, we were vigilant and attentive, eagerly anticipating the wonders that lay ahead. Our expert rangers amazed us with their keen abilities to spot and uncover the hidden treasures of the wilderness, making our experience truly captivating and memorable. Sightings of wild dogs, also known as painted or African hunting dogs are rare and cherished moments. So it wasn't surprising when our guides raced to the first reported location of these endangered canines. Wild dogs promarily hunt impalas. These skilled hunters work together to chase down prey, reaching speeds of up to 45 mph. Their coordinated hunting style and stamina allow them to pursue prey to exhaustion. They require large territories to support their hunting needs and as a result of habitat loss and diseases they are decreasing in numbers. Kruger national part is one of th few remaining strongholds and the park is home to approximately 250-300 individuals, distributed in several packs. We consider ourselves really fortunate to have not only seen these wild dogs but to have had a chance to observe the pack as they hunted a group of impalas.


Our next encounter was with nature's top tree trimmers, the majestic giraffes, found primarily browsing on the leaves of trees. Their long necks allow them to reach foliage that other herbivores cannot access, giving them a unique advantage in their ecosystem. Before reaching the herd of these magnificent creatures, our guide held up a huge giraffe skull, showcasing its molars that had been ground down over the years by ruminating on the foliage.


Interestingly, giraffes and I share a common trait: high blood pressure. For giraffes, this is a necessity to ensure that blood reaches their brains, given their impressive height. To facilitate this, their hearts are massive, weighing up to 22 pounds, enabling them to pump blood effectively throughout their bodies. Despite their size, giraffes have the same number of vertebrae as humans: seven. As we observed these gentle giants, I couldn't help but admire their graceful gait as they strolled through the preserve, their movements exuding a sense of elegance and poise.

During our morning safari, we happened upon the striking white rhinos, one of the two rhino species found on the continent, the other being the black rhino. Despite their names, both species are actually gray in color. The term "white" is believed to have originated from a misinterpretation of the Dutch word "wijd," meaning "wide," which refers to the white rhino's wide, square upper lip. These impressive animals weigh between 3,750 and 5,070 pounds, and as grazers, they primarily feed on grasses. Rhinos have relatively small eyes compared to their large body size, and their eyesight is not particularly strong. Instead, they rely more on their excellent hearing and sense of smell to navigate their surroundings. Interestingly, their eyes are positioned on the sides of their head, providing a wide field of vision that helps them detect potential threats.

One of the most distinctive features of a rhino is its elongated nose, which supports its horn. Made of keratin, the same protein found in human hair and nails, the horn grows continuously throughout the rhino's life and lacks a bony core, unlike other horned animals. Rhinos use their horns for defense, establishing dominance, and foraging for food. Unfortunately, they are threatened by poaching due to the high value placed on their horns in some cultures for supposed medicinal properties and as status symbols.

Rhinos have thick, durable skin that appears wrinkled and folded, especially around their legs and shoulders. In some areas, the skin can be up to 2 inches thick, offering protection against thorns, sharp vegetation, and even some predators. Despite its thickness, the skin is sensitive and prone to sunburn, which explains why rhinos often wallow in mud or seek shade during the hottest parts of the day. We were lucky to see two of these magnificent creatures strolling down a dirt path early in the morning.


Amidst the excitement of encountering large creatures, we also had the pleasure of observing a diverse array of smaller wildlife. Among them was the majestic Marabou Stork, one of the largest stork species, standing tall at an impressive 5 feet with an expansive wingspan reaching up to 12 feet. We spotted this remarkable bird perched atop a tree, utilizing its elevated vantage point to survey the surroundings for potential prey. The park's rich avian diversity also included a sighting of the iconic African Fish Eagle, along with a myriad of other fascinating bird species, making it a veritable paradise for ornithology enthusiasts.

In addition to the avian wonders, we had the delightful chance encounter with a family of dwarf mongooses. These small carnivores, known to be among the most prevalent in Africa, had made their home atop an abandoned termite hill. We observed their morning ritual of socializing and basking in the warm sun before they ventured out to begin their daily foraging adventures.


Next, we came upon some of the more quick-tempered and dangerous animals in the reserve. The African Buffalo, which are bovids, have horns they use to protect themselves. Females often employ these horns to defend not only themselves but also their offspring against predators. We found a herd and even came upon a mother and her youngster. These buffalo have a symbiotic relationship with birds that perch on their backs to eat the bugs residing on them. Not to be outdone, within minutes, we came upon a zebra family. Interestingly, no two zebras have exactly the same stripe pattern. We learned that this is their defense mechanism, as the stripes "bedazzle" lions when they attempt to attack, ultimately confusing the predators.


By the end of the morning safari, we had checked off two more of the Big Five before heading back to camp for breakfast. At the local watering hole, we observed an amazing sight: a herd of at least 75 African Savanna Elephants. These elephants are strict vegetarians and use their trunks to feed on bark, leaves, soft branches, and water. Due to their sheer size, they can be very intimidating. In fact, I was a little worried when I watched this "big guy" approaching Jeff.


We sat quietly with our vehicle engine turned off, watching them devour trees branches, drink from the water hole and observe two youngsters going head to head.


But the most extraordinary discovery was still to come—a newborn elephant calf, barely four days old, nestled beneath the protective presence of the adult females in the herd. The tiny calf, [visible on the far right of the bottom photograph] seemed dwarfed by the massive, nurturing bodies of its guardians. Witnessing this awe-inspiring display of maternal care and the tender beginnings of a new life, all on Mother's Day, made for an unforgettable spectacle that will forever be etched in our memories. It was, without a doubt, a day that will be cherished for a lifetime!


This wild, untouched landscape is a testament to the enduring power and resilience of the natural world, and a visit to the Bushveld is an unforgettable experience that left us with a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the African wilderness. AND, this was only the morning of our first drive in the reserve.

Posted by Where2FromHere 18:40 Archived in South Africa

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


WoW! Your blog writing in Africa is terrific. I feel like I have almost been there with you and Jeff on safari in Africa. Thanks so much for your wonderful sharing....both words and pictures.

by Nancy Bain

Omigod such incredible pics Barb, just stunning… wow what a great adventure you and Jeff are having!! Thanks so much for sharing xx

by Jill

Comment with:

Comments left using a name and email address are moderated by the blog owner before showing.

Not published. Required
Leave this field empty

Characters remaining: