An African safari to remember
Our honeymoon was an excuse for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. So we began with a safari, the ultimate combination of excitement and luxury.
The Waterberg, Limpopo
We decided on the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, a small reserve in the Waterberg Mountains a few hours drive north of Johannesburg. Welgevonden has two great features. First, the altitude seems to discourage mosquitoes which makes the game drives far more pleasant, and second, being a small reserve means you get a far greater feeling of seclusion compared to somewhere such as Kruger.
Our lodge, the Nedile Safari Lodge, was one of 38 on the 38,000 hectare reserve. Less then half the lodges accept visitors so at any time there may only be few hundred people in the whole reserve. We loved our time at Nedile - great room, delicious food, stunning views and terrific staff.
Although only a small park with certain species introduced, we saw all the big 5 except for the surprising omission of buffalo. These has been struck by a virus and a preventative call had reduced their number to a dozen while the illness was eradicated. Finding such small numbers of wide-ranging beasts proved too much even for our talented ranger. I'll admit that this did not really bother me too much, as buffalo was bottom of my mental hit list.
Our first evening drive began with a great stroke of luck. After seeing giraffe, white rhino and numerous bucks we were heading back to the lodge in fading light when our driver pulled up sharply and stared into the gloom at the valley opposite. We all knew there must be something there, but our untrained eyes saw nothing. Then with a few instructions, he pointed out a leopard stalking two water buck. Our first drive and already a hunting leopard! Incredible luck, but not for the big cat as the hunt came to nothing.
Over the next few days we saw a lion stroll right past the jeep, hippo lazing in a lake, drank under the stars next to a rhino munching on grass and spent a scary few minutes surrounded by a herd of elephants in the pitch black.
As well as the showcase animals the backdrop of zebra, kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, bucks and bird life mean there is always something strangly familar and yet completely exotic to see.
I loved every single minute of our game drives. A safari makes so much of your holiday, while at the same time taking you so far away from daily life that you forget it all and relax completely. Without any doubt we will go back again and again - it is a magical experience that I can't wait to savour once more.