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South Africa wildlife VIII: Safari!

We’ve lived in South Africa for over 4 years, and still hadn’t been on a safari… Until last week, that is!

We planned to go to the Kruger National Park (one of the best places in the world to see wild African wildlife) this year, but my recovery after the knee surgery has taken a lot longer than expected, and I’m not up to being quite that adventurous just yet, so we’ve to start small(er) and work our way up to Kruger. There are smaller private game reserves that are much closer to home. We decided to visit the closest one, Aquila, for a day trip, as it’s just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town into the wilds of the Karoo.

Game reserves are nothing like ‘safari parks’ you may have visited elsewhere in the world, which are just open-plan zoos where you can drive your car through the animals’ enclosures. A game reserve is a wild area protected for conservation, where the animals (‘game’) can live wild and free in their natural environment, but safe from hunters and land development. There are no roads, only tracks, and the game drives are conducted by experienced rangers to keep everyone safe – these are true wild animals, and could be dangerous if not treated with respect.

African Elephants on safari
My favourite photo from the safari: these elephants walked right past our vehicle!

We headed out for our game drive in the 10,000 hectare reserve in an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle driven by our ranger and guide. The Karoo is a stunning natural environment, and we saw zebra, hippopotamus, wildebeest, buffalo, white rhinoceros, lions, giraffe, springbok, eland, and of course elephants! It was an absolutely amazing experience and quite emotional for me (especially seeing wild rhinos and knowing how prevalent the poaching problem is and that these animals could be killed for their horns, despite everything that’s being done to try to stop the poachers).

Photo Gallery

I’m trying something new with my photos this time – I’ve installed a new photo gallery so you can see much larger versions of my photos. This page should load quickly with thumbnails of all the pictures (below) to give you a taste, so I can include more photos without slowing down the site. If you click any photo, the gallery will open and let you see them all super-sized – much larger than my previous photos (like the elephants above, which you can also see larger, as part of the gallery below).

I really hope you enjoy the larger photos; if you like the new gallery feature, please do let me know. (I’d like to update my previous wildlife posts with larger versions over time, if you’d appreciate seeing them too?)

This trip was an unbelievable experience, and (although of course photos don’t convey how it feels to have the privilege of getting close to some of the most amazing animals in the world, living wild and uncaged) I’m glad I can share a glimpse of it with you.

I hope this will be the first of many safaris for me in the coming years; there are lots of other private game reserves to visit, and I’m still hoping to get to Kruger one day.

Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed my photos (and the new gallery)…


  1. Chrisie (CrochetChrisie) said

    Beautiful photos! I especially loved the zebras!

  2. Ellen said

    You’re so lucky. I’d go as often as I can if I were you. We were in eastern Africa last year through a safari planned by the Detroit zoo. I’ll never forget it. Your pictures brought back some great memories.

  3. Jan Young said

    Stunning photographs and wonderful to see the animals in their natural habitat. Such a privilege to see them. (Love the elephant ‘bottom’ shots!).

  4. Karen Harrison said

    Your pictures are amazing! What a wonderful opportunity to be so close to a fantastic place!

  5. Deborah said

    So lovely. Glad you’re healing and able to go on smaller excursions

  6. Patricia Seaton said

    Looks like you had a wonderful adventure! Thanks for sharing your photo journal with us.

  7. Alicia said

    I love the gallery photos. You are an amazing photographer! Thank you for sharing with us.

  8. alicia g said

    Lovely photos! The only thing I miss with the new gallery is the descriptions of what was in each picture. I’d love to hear more details about your trip too!

    • June said

      Mmm, yes, that is a potential problem, although the speed of not having to caption every photo was definitely a welcome benefit. The faster these posts are to create, the more chance I’ll be able to find the time to post them more often. (I already have enough photos stored up for a dozen more wildlife posts! So many photos, so little time…)

    • June said

      Okay, I’ve tried something different: I’ve added captions that a) pop up if you hover over the thumbnails (with a mouse on a computer) and b) appear above the lightbox like a title if you’re viewing the gallery. The captions aren’t too useful for this post – I’m sure you can tell a lion from a giraffe! – but will hopefully come in handy for adding a small amount of info about each pic in future. Thanks for pointing that out, Alicia!

  9. .: petrOlly :. said

    I still have to see the photos on a big screen but I must say the new gallery feature works splendid on my smartphone, in both orientations. Awesome idea, perfect execution!
    And of course, your photos are fantastic; changing your whole wildlife posts might be a lot of work but I’d love to see it (you know I’m a bit crazy about photography 😉 ).

  10. Jane Clarke said

    Beautiful photos, some amazing close up ones. Like the format, allows for great detail. Well done!

  11. Lyle Hadley said

    Simply beautiful to see all these majestic animals in their natural habitat and unafraid – thank you!

  12. Miriam P. said

    Thank you so much for posting your photos. And I love the new gallery format! It’s a great idea.

    I get emotional just seeing photos like these and hearing that the wildlife means as much to other people as it does to me. It makes me crazy that there are still people out there who kill animals for reasons far removed from survival. And that there is still a viable market for ivory, rhino horn, etc.

  13. Lesley Innes said

    Wonderful photos as usual June and it was great to be able to enlarge them and get a closer look. Look forward to photos from your next visit to a Game Park.

  14. Vicky Leitch said

    Your large size safari photos are stunning. Can’t wait for the next visit to a safari park.

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