How does it feel to go on your first ever African safari? Our private consultant Tomáš Safarik just returned from South Africa and his first experience in the African bush. Here are his memories…
Was safari different to your preconceptions?
Safari was as awesome as I hoped it would be. It’s very different to going on holiday anywhere else. I was really in nature, face to face with animals, not looking at them from far away.
I didn’t think I was going to get as close to the animals as I did.
From waking up at 5am to going to bed, it all feels incredible. Obviously the animals are a huge part of it, but staying at such a nice retreat is also a massive part of the experience. It’s a complete package – atmosphere, lodge, wildlife, nature, the staff at the lodge as well.
But I thought I had to wear khaki clothes and hiking boots! That’s a big misconception.
Do any specific moments stand out?
It was the second leopard we saw, a young female, two years old. We spotted her in a tree, feasting on a kudu foetus. We were directly under the tree
She was just independent from her mother and siblings and later we saw the kudu carcass on the ground. A kudu is a type of antelope and she’d ripped out the fetus. We were so close and you feel kind of scared. What if the leopard decides to just jump on us?
It’s so thrilling. It’s when I felt that we are really in nature, seeing how nature really works.
Another day we saw a herd of 50 elephants. There were many baby elephants and at one point all the elephants surrounded us. It was the cutest experience.
Did this safari satisfy your desire to go on safari?
I’m hooked! Really, this experience has me hooked on going on more safaris.
I went in February which is not the peak season. Usually the most popular time to go is during African winter, in the European summer months. The bush is less green so you see more animals. What’s really nice about February is all these animal babies. Baby elephants, baby zebras, baby everything! It’s a cuter experience.
How were the South African lodges and game reserves?
First I stayed in Kapama Private Game Reserve. It’s a fenced game reserve which means there’s only so much space and they can only have so many animals. Kapama Karula is a beautiful and intimate lodge, with service and gastronomy on the highest level I’ve ever experienced.
However, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve was much nicer in terms of animal sightings. It is unfenced and part of the Sabi Sands area, which is directly connected to Kruger National Park. So you see animals from the reserve and the national park. I stayed at Earth Lodge and got to see a lot more here.
Earth Lodge is a work of art. The villas and common areas are literally built into the earth, so you really feel connected to nature.
Both the lodges were exceptional in terms of cleanliness, service and amenities. At Earth Lodge and Sabi Sabi I felt much deeper in the real nature.
Will you go back to South Africa?
South Africa feels like all the continents in one. Somethings feel very European, other reminded me of California, some things are very African. That’s in terms of nature as well. There is beach, mountains and safari all in one.
[/quote]I’m going back to South Africa in May! Really, I loved the experience that much I’m going back as soon as I can. [/quote]
See more of Tomas’s photos and videos on our Instagram.