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South Africa
Kruger Park 2
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Kruger Park 1

1st December, 2002 - Vuyatela, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
We arrived at Hoedspruit airport at 11.35am and then travelled one and a half hours along the dusty, unbuilt roads to the Sabi Sand Wildlife Reserve. The much needed water was in plentiful supply. We arrived at our accommodation for the next 2 nights - the Vuyatela - Shangaan for 'come and visit again'.
The Vuyatela is the new sister lodge to the Djuma Bush Lodge. It has eight luxury suites with private lounge and plunge pool, surrounded by a large private deck. The innovative architecture draws upon the contemporary African vernacular style to create an environment enriched by original tribal and township art. We were told that many of the local people created the art. The main lodge includes a tall watching tower overlooking the waterhole and also a large aquarium, stocked with indigenous fish.

Vuyatela lodge monkey on our deck Setting off on safari
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve shares an unfenced boundary with both the Mala Mala and Kruger National Park. We were hoping to come see the 'Big Five' - elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo - as well as the cheetah, hyena, jackal, zebra, giraffe and many species indigenous to this pristing savannah.
Leopard1 Leopard2 Impala
After a late lunch, at around 5pm we set off in a 4x4 jeep on an afternoon drive that turned into a night drive. The driver was a trained, knowledgable ranger and we were accompanied by a 'lookout' who spotted the animals. We were not disappointed. On leaving the lodge grounds we passed some monkeys, impala and zebra - and we hadn't even gone a mile yet! The highlight came when our 'lookout' spotted a leopard. We tracked it and stayed with it as it moved around. I was absolutely amazed at how close we came to the animal. It was within 3 metres of us and seemed to be unconcerned by our presence. We were told that the fumes of the vehicle were hiding our scent and the animals were used to the jeeps, which they probably considered to be another 'animal'. We were perfectly safe and were advised most strongly that we should not stand up or alter the silhoutte shape of our vehicle as this would alarm the animal.
Nyala waterbuck zebra
As sun sets the vehicle came to a halt and we were treated to 'sundowners' - drinks at sundown. After this we embarked upon our night drive, with the 'lookout' shining a very bright light around us to spot the animals. We met up with a herd of buffalo before arriving at a small clearing, where we had a barbeque supper.
My first experience of a safari had been enjoyable. I was amazed at how close we were with the wildlife. Bing a private game reserve the vehicles could drive across the bush, which provided a most enjoyable adventure although I was concerned about the trees and small bushes that get 'trampled' over and crushed by the vehicles.

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