There is just something about Africa; the wildlife, the quality of light and the amazing people we have met. This year we stayed in South Africa, we wanted more time at each lodge and less travel once there.
We are all about seeing as much wildlife as possible. We have typically stayed at private game reserves where a ranger and tracker take you out early morning and late afternoon. These guides are unbelievably good at what they do and I have been amazed at what we have tracked. We also love giving back and have used http://www.packforapurpose.org/ to help determine what to bring with us that can help those in need in different communities.
We use Rhino Africa (http://www.rhinoafrica.com) to book everything once we get there; they set up transportation, lodging, provide itinerary ideas if needed and they are located in South Africa. Their website is amazing for helping to decide what you want to see and do. They are fantastic to work with and I would not go to Africa without using their services, they know what to see when and how to do it.
This trip started at Phinda Private Game Reserve; we stayed at the Mountain Lodge. Phinda is an And Beyond property; you can not go wrong with And Beyond http://www.andbeyond.com/south-africa.htm. The lodging, food and people are top notch. The Sand Forest Lodge at Phinda is also spectacular . Four days of wildlife bliss; dominant male cheetah's on a kill, lions with cubs, mother cheetah with 3 cubs hunting, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, an Emperor Goose smackdown (two on one, is that fair?) and did I mention that my hubby loves cheetahs? We saw the cheetahs multiple times and I think he was in heaven.
We left Phinda and flew to Inyati Game Lodge http://www.inyati.co.za/ at Sabi Sands. This is our second time at this lodge and it will not be our last. We saw 3 of the big 5 on the way from the airstrip to the lodge! We love Inyati; you feel like you are home. Their staff is wonderful, rooms are comfortable and the food is good. We have been with Khimbini and Norman (our ranger and tracker) on both trips and these two are as good as they get. Khimbini is a wonderful photographer so he also makes sure to get you in a position to get a good shot. We had five magical days at Inyati, I wish we could have stayed all winter. We saw leopards, and then more leopards, 10 different leopards in all! Ah-mazing!! Leopards with kills in a tree, leopards mating, leopards taunting hyena's by almost dropping their kill and saving it at the last second, a leopard with a kill in a tree outside room #2 (brunch was moved to the other side of the lawn) and finally, Xikhavi unveiled her two, 6 week old cubs!! With all the leopards, there was still time to watch the monkeys playing on the lawn, be surrounded by an elephant herd as they moved up the Sand River, giraffe fight! and so much more.
From Inyati, we met up with Gerry Vanderwalt from Wild Eye, http://www.wild-eye.co.za/ for a couple days for a photography workshop to help hone our wildlife photography skills. Gerry suggested going to Bush House http://bushhouse.co.za/ located in Madikwe, a game reserve we had never visited before. Bush House is in a very pretty setting, comfortable, relaxing and very nice staff. Bush House has an underground hide that made for really cool shots; we spent the first day underground just waiting for wildlife to come in and get a drink! I think the hubby was there for 24 hours straight! Bush House was so accommodating they served us dinner in the hide! We almost didn't want to go on game drives for fear of missing something at the waterhole! Gerry was awesome; he brought a Canon 600 mm lens and a Canon 70D for us to try out and had some great pointers for us.
It was a fantastic trip, we were so sad to leave and hope to go back soon.