The best thing about our guide is that he knows how to read his guests! The family from Maine didn't make the previous night's happy hour and he saw how much we had enjoyed it, so we did it again! This time on the way we found the mama cheetah in the grass just relaxing, so we got out of the vehicle and walked up to her. We thought the baby cub would be hanging around her but we couldn't find him. One of the other guides said he wasn't there. Come to find out today she had lost the baby! As we were leaving this morning, a group came in from a drive and said they found the baby and he was all alone and probably had been for a few days (the mom is collared so they know where she is at all times - they did that when she had the cub so they would know how many cubs she had and could make sure they were ok). The cub was hungry and shaky so they picked him up and took him to one of the other guide's houses who used to work at a cheetah rehab facility so they could feed him and then bring him back to mom. The pictures were so sweet - I hope that little baby is ok!!
Our happy hour was, once again, a lot of fun! We didn't see much later that night, just another abundance of stars. We stopped by the watering hole but all the hippos were out and about.
Early wake up call on Thursday. We really wanted to go to Phinda Game Reserve (it's in our 1000 places to see before you die book!) but it's very difficult to get in if you're not staying there. The only reason they even offer it as an "excursion" from Zulu Nyala is because they border each other. We couldn't get in, so we did Hluhluwe instead - we wanted to give ourselves a chance to see lions. This reserve is 96,000 hectares (which is about 300 square miles) which is huge - our reserve was much smaller. So it's a lot of driving. We left Zulu Nyala at 4:30AM - we arrived around 6:30 and heard there was a male lion and some African wild dogs (only 700 left in existence!), but we missed them both. It was a very long day but we saw some cool animals.
Late morning we finally saw some lions! There were 2 females and about 10 cubs (of which we saw 4 or so) and they were climbing in the trees and just relaxing. It was amazing to watch them - they were kind of far away so the binoculars really helped. We stayed there about 30 minutes watching them.
The funniest of the day were the baboons - they were in the road and just playing and fighting and trying to get it on! One was trying to eat a rock.
Pete really wanted to see a large herd of elephants and he was obliged! We saw a couple of herds - one was about 15 and the other probably 25. We hoped we could get closer but they were off in the distance, but it was still cool to see. We saw a few lone bulls walking behind the herd (they don't stay in the herd - it's run by a matriarch and she has other females and the youngsters with her - the boys stay behind, as it should be!)
We also saw rhinos very close up - they walked right by us and behind our vehicle - that was cool to see them up close. The one lady was very old and had a huge horn - wow. It's so sad that there are still poachers that try to get their horns. The myths still exist, especially in the Asian countries. We saw several anti-poaching teams walking around all the properties with big guns.
We finished up there around 5:00 - so we drove around a ton! We were exhausted at the end of the drive. Lucking we worked our way back towards our reserve on the property so it was only about a half hour drive back.
Our final night was nice, opened our last bottle of Anura Pinotage, had a good dinner and did Springbok shots to celebrate a successful trip!! We met some great people and had an amazing time! I would HIGHLY recommend this trip even if the travel is a pain. It's very much worth it.
We are now sitting in the Jo'burg airport, about an hour from boarding our flight to Atlanta. In the Air France/KLM lounge, since they are partners with Delta, so enjoying some free beverages, food and Wi-Fi!
Thanks to everyone who followed our trip - I'm glad we could share our experience with you!
XXOO, Kim, Pete, Sufia and Bill