South Africa Safari – Big Five

Flying from Cape Town to Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) near the East Gate of Kruger National Park in South Africa takes about two and a half hours and costs about $250 USD one way on South African Airways. We flew on an Embraer 190 which reasonably comfortable seating for about 100 passengers four across with a single aisle. After landing we were shuttled by van about 50 minutes to Shiduli Private Game Lodge.

The Shiduli Private Game Lodge is on banks of the Makhutswi River and at the fringes of the Karongwe Game Reserve. The property is beautiful and elegant in a way that elegance can only be found on the African savanna. The staff is exceptionally warm and welcoming. The lodge and the surrounding property are steeped in lush gardens with ample shade, lounges with internet facilities, bar, a nice swimming pool and thatched dining areas all highlighted by original South African Art.

Some photos of the facility:

When we arrived at the Shiduli Private Game Lodge camp we were warmly greeted and shown to our accommodations. The lodge area was rustic, but beautifully decorated. From the reception walkways led us past the pool to the cabins where we’d stay for the next four nights. Ominously there is an electric fence that surrounds the property. Apparently some of the animals didn’t find it too difficult to traverse, namely baboons and the tiny Springbok, the smallest of the antelope family.

View from near our accommodation:

wireback door

After unpacking our bags and a short rest we went back outside to see animals beginning to gather in the vicinity outside the wire. We saw a variety of antelope including the kudo, eland, waterbuck and shaggy and stout nyala. At the time I didn’t know I’d be trying kudo for the first time at the dinner table later that evening after our first game drive.

Meet our Guide Respect and Tracker Johnson:

We’d go on six game drive of the next three days, each one exceeding the last. This blog post is really about the Big Five (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant), other animals and of course our guides so it’s best to let the pictures do most of the talking.


lionesslion teen2lion teenlion teen 3lion momlion king


leopard6leopard5leopard4leopard3leopard2leopard kill

Cape Buffalo:

cape herdcape buff





Other animals:

zebra2zebrahippogiraffegirafe2Croccheetah2cheetahbirdantelopeant2ant_herdantant big

Having a flat in the middle of the African bush as it’s getting dark was a little unnerving:


Really had a great time with these awesome guys:


Some finals shots from a great trip:


We had a great time here and would love to do it again one day.  From here we made our way to Zimbabwe and the amazing Victoria Falls.

Parting advice: “every morning an impala wakes up knowing that it must outrun the fastest lion if it wants to stay alive. Every morning a lion wakes up knowing that it must outrun the slowest impala or it will starve. It makes no difference if you are a lion or impala, when the sun comes up in Africa you must wake up running” – Anonymous