Is it safe to go on safari?

I don’t know how far outside of South Africa this news has spread, but perhaps you have heard of the lion attack that happened here a few weeks ago. An American woman visited The Lion Park outside Johannesburg and died from the injuries she sustained when a lion attacked.

So that no one will jump to the wrong conclusions and think that it’s dangerous to go on safari, I would like to explain the situation.

The Lion Park is sometimes called a game reserve, wildlife park, nature reserve and wildlife park. It’s really not much more than a glorified zoo. You can drive around in a small reserve and see lions, among other animals. “Super Close-Up Animal Views Guaranteed” it says on the website…

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Entrance to the Lion Park

The woman had her window fully open, just like the private guide she was there with. No one can miss the signs that are everywhere, clearly telling everyone in the park to always keep windows closed. So no matter how tragic it is, it’s their own fault.

Lions are wild and dangerous animals! But this is precisely where misconceptions can arise… How can you go on safari in an open safari vehicle if it’s so dangerous to have a window down?!?

These lions began their lives in the area of the lion park where you can pet the lion cubs. And no wonder that draws people, admit it – how many of you are not thrilled by the idea? I admit, we’ve been there and cuddled with these wonderfully cute little lion cubs. It was many, many years ago – before we knew better.

Because the question is what happens to these lion cubs when they have done their 3 months as cute cuddleable cubs. According to the website, they are sent to a farm near Hartebeespoort Dam where they are housed in large enclosures.

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Lion cub cuddles

The Lion Park also says that they do their utmost to ensure that their lions are not used in so-called “canned hunting”. They donate or sell the lions to reputable zoos or wildlife parks. If the lions are not sold, they stay at the farm until they die of natural causes.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how many lions are needed in zoos and wildlife parks and how many can they keep at the farm until they die of natural causes..? With the amount of lion cubs the Lion Park must have in a year, I’m not sure the equation adds up.

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The Kruger Park

But this wasn’t really what I meant to write about… The wrong conclusions that can be drawn is that it’s dangerous to go on safari in the bush in a game reserve on an open safari vehicle. Every day, tourists in southern Africa experience the magic of sitting in an open vehicle next to a flock of wild lions. And yet nothing ever happens.

Wild lions in areas like the Kruger Park are completely wild. They haven’t been handled by people, fed, petted or photographed with people. They don’t associate humans with food. They are completely wild and have a natural fear of humans.

They also have really big areas to move around in and can easily move on if they get irritated, something that the lions in the lion park can’t. They have no choice, they can’t escape …

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Lions in Lalibela Game Reserve

In a car, whether it is a normal car or a large open safari vehicle, you are also safe since the lions see the whole silhouette as a single unit. You are significantly bigger than the lions. So before heading out on safari your guide will explain to you that you may not stand up and break this silhouette. You may of course never leave your car if you drive on your own… And you should keep the noise level down and never disturb the animals, of course.

As long as you stick to the rules, you need not worry about being attacked by lions in the African bush.

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Historical Kruger Park

Kruger Park has changed quite a bit throughout the years and these photos give us a glimpse into the rich history of the park.

Click on the photos for more information.

Tanzania

Hi everyone🙂

If you’re dreaming of travelling to Tanzania you should definitely keep reading.

Wildebeest in the Serengeti

Wildebeest in the Serengeti

Serengeti is perhaps the world’s best game viewing area and here you can really experience one of nature’s most spectacular shows. It’s best known for the great migration that takes place every year in May and June, when around a million wildebeest, along with hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, migrates to better pastures. In long lines they throw themselves into the crocodile dense rivers and throughout the journey they are followed by predators such as lion and leopard.

What an experience! And what is so amazing is that we at Destination South Africa offers you a 10% discount on all our trips to Tanzania from 1 May and 31 August exactly during that period!

Beach in Zanzibar

Beach in Zanzibar

So do yourself a favour and contact us to get an itinerary and a quote, no costs involved. Maybe you want to combine Serengeti with a week in Zanzibar (to be sure that you at least get some sun this summer😉 )

And don’t forget that we will help you book your flights too!

Feast for the crocodile

Last Sunday Lina, my fiance Freddy and I went to Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa’s fourth largest national park, located just over 2 hours north west of Johannesburg. We left already at 4 o’clock in the morning and had an absolutely wonderful day in the park.

Sunrise in Pilanesberg

Sunrise in Pilanesberg

There will definitely be lot of photos from that day, but I wanted  to start with one of the cooler things we saw. Anyone who has been on safari in Africa know that some sightings are more fun than others. I appreciate them all, but hippos for example – super cool and one of Africa’s most dangerous animals. But they never do anything, so you have to wait for a long time for one of them to yawn from their hiding spot in the water. Same thing with crocodiles, they mostly park on land and don’t move an inch.

Very still crocodile

Very still crocodile

But in early summer the sharptooth catfish is spawning and there are quite a lot of them in the different dams in Pilanesberg. It’s a pretty violent process where the lady catfish is chased and there are plenty of water being splashed around. This takes place right next to the shore, which means that they can be easily caught by a variety of predators from land, but of course also by predators in the water.

Sharptooth catfish spawning

Sharptooth catfish spawning

And at one of the dams we got to see how a crocodile slipped into the water from the bank on the other side and slowly but very decidedly swam over to our side. And when he reached the other side it was not long until he had caught his first fish. A loud splash and a clear oooohhh from everyone who was there in the hide and got to see this.

Some rest after a meal

Some rest after a meal

After this, he pulled out a little from the shore and lay there, just waiting. All of us who stood there ready with our cameras, and especially those who missed the first attack (yes, that would be me), silently cheered Mr Crocodile on so that he would take up the hunt again. After a while he began to move toward the bank and also closer to us.

On the move

On the move

The path leading into the hide form a small bridge over the water and  we stood right there. Everywhere we could hear splashes and see fish move and we all stood there and trying to guess what the crocodile would do next. He slowly approached the entrance to the littleriver” that connects the two sides of the dam and he finally decided to go in. He positioned himself so that he blocked the entire watercourse and slowly and patiently began to bring the incredibly powerful tail towards his head to try and move the fish closer to his mouth.

Crocodile tail

Crocodile tail

Despite this very strategic technique he had no luck fishing and after maybe 10 minutes he gave up and moved out a little more towards open water. I think it was around this time we began to feel that perhaps it was time to give up and realise we were defeated – there would be no photos of crocodile vs. fish this time. We asked Freddy, who is not camera crazy as we are, to “count to 10, and then we’ll leave.” Had he actually counted, he would probably have reached 9 before the big splash

The moment of truth

The moment of truth

The cameras around us went crazy and I could not believe our luck to see and experience this. All the German tourists sounded very happy and we felt pretty pleased to have waited the whole thing out. Apparently we waited for 52 minutes, announced a very patient Freddy.

Crocodile & catfish

Crocodile & catfish

That’s nature!

We’ve been quiet for far too long, but it’s that time of the year when we have so much to sort out with all our tours over the Christmas holidays. We’re sorry about that, we will return when things have settled down a bit and we’ll leave you with this little movie clip:

Have a lovely weekend! 😉

Brave little elephant

Imagine seeing this!

A young elephant in Zambia somehow became separated from his herd and then a flock of 14 female lions attacked the helpless animal. Clearly outnumbered, the brave little elephant managed fend off the attack even though he had no less than three lionesses on his back at one point!

Norman Carr Safaris

When is the best time to travel to South Africa?

There’s no easy answers to the question of when the best time is to visit South Africa, as all seasons have their positive and negative elements. It simply depends on what one is looking for and what one wants to do.

leopard

Safari is good all year round, but the best time to travel is during winter and spring, say from May to October. There’s less vegetation, which makes it easier to spot the animals, and because it doesn’t rain, there’s less and less water available for the animals, so they seek out the watering holes.

Along the west coast we are each year treated to a great show, when the first rain of spring falls and transforms this dry and rather barren landscape into a fireworks of bright colours, when the ground is covered in flowers. It’s impossible to say when this annual flower parade will occur, but the safest bet is probably August – September.

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South Africa has a long coastline and both the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean offer wonderful adventures. Beach life is perfect in KwaZulu-Natal all through the year with warm and sunny conditions, even in the middle of winter. But if sun and sea is most important to you, you should travel between November and February.

From mid-June to November is the best time for whale watching and for scuba diving the period from April to September is the best choice for most coastal areas, except perhaps for the coast off Western Cape.

Diving with Great White Sharks is something that can be done all throughout the year, but the best time is during the winter months. From when the baby seals are born in November and through to March, there is so much “natural” food for the sharks that it’s more difficult to attract them to the boat, which reduces the chances to experience sharks up close.

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And if you don’t want to travel when all South Africans have their vacation you should avoid December and January.

In short – every season has something to offer and there are of course no bad time of the year to travel to South Africa!