Leopard, Sabi Sands

May 2016 Newsletter, Horseback Safaris

Nine Camps, Nine Horses....              ....oh, and not forgetting the Nine Leopards!

I’m just back from a fortnight in South Africa. An action-packed two weeks which contained all the key ingredients of a successful safari.

Sabi Sands Leopard

Firstly, there was great wildlife. After so many trips there’s always a risk I become blasé about the sightings, but this was a safari packed with animals. Although just the tip of a large iceberg, top billing must go to the leopards: nine individuals in just five days in Sabi Sands. Reclining in trees, hunting, challenging hyena for a kill, looking to mate. From large male to year-old cub. The sightings were so good and so frequent, I didn’t even photography them all. And to think I was travelling to Africa for ten years before I saw my first leopard!

Wait A Little Tent Veranda

Next, there were great camps. As standard, there were scenic locations, baths and outdoor showers with a view, large comfy beds and amazing food. Of at least equal importance most had unique personality and exceptional hospitality. I’m not an night-owl by inclination, but was up around the camp fire or dinner table until after “bush midnight” every night. For the uninitiated, bush midnight is ten pm which may not sound outrageously late, until you take into account the five thirty wake-up call! Whilst I wouldn’t ever propose an itinerary with nine different camps, my homework (and indeed that of my colleagues at Safari Consultants) is essential to ensure we make the best possible recommendations.

Castello (aka The Spaghetti Monster)

Finally, there were great activities. For me this was top-notch guiding and excellent horses. I’ve clocked up nearly two-years “in the bush”, but almost every guide on this safari taught me something new and it’s always enjoyable to revisit old favourites such as baboon spiders and ant lions. Riding was a major component of this trip, and I was treated to an entire yard of well-schooled steeds. Pride of place must go to Castello (aka The Spaghetti Monster), who was wonderfully controlled and comfortable despite his legs doing all manner of loops underneath – hence the nickname. I was particularly thankful that he was completely unperturbed by a close-range elephant charge, since at 17h2 it would have been hard to remount in a hurry!

Rhino from Horseback

Further photos, including more leopards but not all nine, are on flickr together with albums from my other safaris.

So I’ve returned to our wonderful English spring on a real safari-high. Please do get in touch if you’d like me to find the perfect balance of wildlife, camps and activities for you. I’ll be at the Suffolk Show at the start of June and the Bird Fair in August, otherwise drop me an email or pick up the phone. I look forward to hearing from you.