Hunting for the ‘BIG FIVE’
Our trip started at Teuge airfield in the Netherlands and the outbound destination was Johannesburg for a business meeting there of three days. Just before having to do a presentation on stage in Joburg with Steve Wozniak in front of 1300 business people, we spend some days relaxing at the private game reserve called Sabi Sabi.
The Sabi Sabi Game Reserve consists of several lodges and is set in its own 6500 hectares of grounds. We were staying in the Earth Lodge where the guests stay in their own lodge giving you a feeling you are there by yourself in nature. There are no fences and at night a ranger has to escort you to your own lodge/room to make sure you are not confronted with elephants or lions on your way.
Every morning and evening we got the opportunity to join a “hunt” for the animals in a Toyota Landcruiser together with a ranger driving the jeep and a spotter sitting up front to spot animals and support the ranger. Off we were to hunt for the Big Five: the Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Rhino and the Buffalo. We have been very fortunate to find them all and even more! Normally, finding the leopard is the most difficult. We actually spotted both a female and male leopard. The Lion is normally easier to spot, but was only spotted on the last morning just before flying back from the Sabi Sabi private airstrip to the business airport of Johannesburg: Lanseria.
After looking for animals for several hours it was time for a stop. We would depart the lodge at around 5.30 in the morning as at 9 in the morning the temperature could get up to about 35 degrees Celsius already. Here our ranger Terry is busy poring in the champagne.
The above picture is of a female leopard. It was taken while the leopard was merely a few meters away from the Landcruiser. It was amazing to just see this wild animal on such a short distance.
The safari that starts in the late afternoon runs into the night. At sunset and the short period afterwards a lot of the game was spotted. Here you see our ranger Terry driving the Landcruiser with the spotter all the way in the front.
During the day there was time to relax at the Earth Lodge. The whole Lodge was unfenced and it happened regularly that we would hit into elephants right in front of the lodge or while walking over to our private rooms/lodges. One of the leopards was spotted only 500 meters away from the lodge.
The manager of the Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge standing in from of the lodge with an elephant nearby. The staff did a great job and all was perfectly arranged.
This was my personal lodge, which was set aside from the main facilities about 300 meters into the wild. While sitting outside I spotted elephants right in front of my lodge.
As you can see, the women at the Earth Lodge were making sure that the two pilots were all ok.
After two full days at the lodge it was time to go again. Our ranger Terry took us to the Sabi Sabi runway which was just about a 15 minute drive away from the lodge facilities. He inspected the whole runway to make sure there would be no elephants or lions on the runway. After departure we made a fly-by over the lodge to say goodbye before heading off to Johannesburg for a three-day business meeting where I would share the stage in front of 1300 business people together with Steve Wozniak and others. Our trip to the business airport of Johannesburg (Lanseria airport) took us about an hour and a half. There the Piper would go into regular maintenance before leaving again on Monday on our inbound flight through East Africa back home.