Ever wanted to spend 2 days following the ‘big five’ around a safari park and sleep in bedrooms where a rhino could walk up to your bedroom door. I did in South Africa through our volunteer we booked a trip for a whole group of us, starting off at Addo Elephant Park in the morning and then heading in Schotia Safari Park, where we would spend the rest of that day and the half the next day. It was fantastic, I remember thinking should I spend this much money on this but afterwards I knew it was worth every penny and more (I don’t even remember the price now, it was that worth it). Our accommodation was one of the highlights, we were staying in the Orlando Lodge with a double bed and electric blanket! But the best part or worst part was it was in the middle of the reserve and had a open entrance to one of the areas meaning the black rhinos could just wander in and up to your bedroom door. They of course were monitored and the keepers always knew where they were, but still could you imagine wandering out of your bedroom first thing in the morning and bumping in to one. We didn’t….LUCKILY!
Addo was beautiful the vista incredible and when we eventually found the elephants they were a breath taking sight, so big and dominant.
By the afternoon we were in Schotia, sitting in the back of a jeep with no sides, riding up and down rough terrain racing after all the animals. It was thrilling and scary at the same time!
After a long afternoon of exploring we stopped for dinner, this was a wooden pen in the middle of one of the enclosures – the one that contained the Lions and the crocodile pen backed on to the wall of the dinning area! It was what I can only describe as a bush dinner, everything is cooked on fires and is delicious. We all sat in tables of our trucks, in this beautiful wooden shack, there was a camp fire outside and yes you guess it drop toilets if you needed to go. As darkness fell it grew increasingly cold out in the middle of nowhere.
The one thing I was never prepared for was what to wear – here you can see me in a Leopard print cardi, I had to remove this during the Safari as it might attract other animals in an unwanted way! Needless to say DON’T WEAR ANIMAL PRINT ON A SAFARI!
After dinner we headed out in to the dark and cold for a night ride. This was the highlight of the trip for me and where we first got to spot Lions! I got this incredible shot of the big papa lion asleep while we shone the torch light on him.
It was freezing so we soon retreated to our home for the night, grabbed a few beers, checked out the starry night sky and chilled out for the night. With an electric blanket and thick duvet we soon warmed up!
Our guide Barbara as pictured with us above was AMAZING, she made the whole trip so much better – knowing exactly where to go when no one else could find the lions and having an answer to every single question we asked. After one last early morning ride that was the end of our time in Schotia. But what an incredible two days, if you ever get the change to take a safari and stay in the middle of the reserve I would througly recommend it.
We then finished our day off by heading to Sea View Lion Park and after a day seeing animals in a reserve this was not a welcome trip, the lions we kept in pens not much bigger than my backyard at home! But looking past all the the reason we were there was to get to stroke a lion cub of 6 months. I not only got to stroke one I got a cuddle from one – he jumped up on my back and with fear and horror on my face I froze, only for the keeper to tell me he was giving me a cuddle….PHEW!!