On Safari – with a difference

It was wonderful to be out on a Safari again!  I must be honest it has been a little while since the African bushveld has passed my senses – there is so much to see and do in South Africa, it is often hard to fit it all in!  We can’t be away from it for long though, and eventually we make time to get back to nature for our fix!

This time round it was a safari with a difference – I was with my 97 year old Grandmother!  This meant we couldn’t go too far from home (her home in Johannesburg) as driving for 6 hours to a destination takes its toll if you are 97.  I was also limited with the time I had available.  So the Kruger Park wasn’t an option, we needed something closer.   If you are short on time The Pilanesberg National Park is a great choice and amazingly it has the Big 5!

I was reminded of a couple of things on this trip with regards to traveling with older people.  Just in case you find yourself in the same situation, I thought I would give the following couple of tips:

  • Older people feel the cold so much more than young ones!  It is cold enough in winter for the early morning game drives, even if you are young and can dress easily.  But for the older folk, the cold is biting and it gets into their bones.  They are not as mobile as we are so can’t just easily “add another layer”.  Most lodges do provide blankets these days so there is extra warmth available other than the clothing you bring.  Blankets make for a much cosier game drive experience and believe me, in winter you need it!
  • It is also a good idea to make sure the vehicle you are taking for your safari is easy to access.  This sounds a bit odd but basically it needs to be low enough for older people to actually get into.  Again, unlike us young ones, older folk can’t just jump up onto a vehicle.  Some of the Land Cruises or 4 x 4’s are higher than others, so just check the lodge has a step (some even have a platform) you can use
  • Sitting in the front seat is the best option…..it also means they have direct access to the guide (and extra heating!)
Male lions enjoying a long drink

But nothing compares to being in nature young or old.  For my Gran, it was just so wonderful to be away from the daily routine and get back to her roots.  Feeling the fresh breeze on your skin, the crisp air in the mornings, the birds and wildlife out there, the sunrises and sunsets, smells of animals and trees, and of course, you just don’t know what is lurking around the corner!  We had a spectacular lion sighting, they had just finished with a kill and were thirsty…….

 And not to mention the mother and baby Rhino that we almost drove into – it was dark though so my camera doesn’t do justice to the experience!  I am sadly a sucker for sunrises and sunsets, and can’t even get myself to delete the ones I don’t want.  But in the bush and Africa – I think we have the finest of these in the world! Along with the best G & T’s……

Sunrise over Pilanesberg National Park

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