It's moments like these when you realise you're no longer at the top of the figurative food chain. On a recent experience that was both humbling and exhilarating, I had the privilege of being part of a rhino ear-notching exercise.Sun City has partnered with the Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust to help conserve rhino by offering guests the chance to help a vet and work with park management officials to individually notch, implant an ID tag as well as collect DNA from the selected rhino. These procedures assist park management to monitor and manage their rhino populations by helping to conserve and identify them.Rhino populations in Africa are dwindling as continued poaching, as well as habitat loss, putting their survival under extremely serious threat. This unique experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity aimed at assisting the park with its conservation efforts by cataloging and monitoring individual rhino in the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park that borders Sun City, Africa's biggest resort.
It is rated as one of the world's most spectacular natural events - every year over a million wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate clockwise around the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem, taking in two different countries and making time for birthing, courting and mating on the way.
Seeing all members of the Big 5 is undeniably thrilling but Africa’s abundance does not stop there. Get your bucket list ready because these are our top most incredible wildlife experiences and phenomena on the continent.
It’s November in the Mara and the living is easy. Lions retreat to the shade to sleep the day away after a night of hunting, digesting whatever prey they ate and building up their energy for another night on the prowl. Keep your eyes on rocks and low shrubs where the soil is coolest.Besides birds and babies, the other benefit of travelling to East Africa in November is that there are no crowds. We had almost all sightings to ourselves and seldom saw other game-drive vehicles, unlike the mid-year peak season when the Great Migration rolls into town. If you want vast plains, dramatic skyscapes and glorious sightings, consider a Green Season safari to Kenya.
Contrary to popular belief, bucket lists aren’t only for retired folk. Today, youngsters are more switched on than ever before and after spending hours watching BBC or Lost Planet documentaries, many can’t wait to come to Africa and experience the thrill of seeing a leopard in the wild or elephant family at play for themselves.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is undisputedly Kenya’s most famous wildlife destination. Its rock-solid reputation as a must-see for every safari goer has been built up over decades and rests on two chief elements: the ease of spotting game and the Great Wildebeest Migration.The game is easy to find here not only because its numbers are rising thanks to successful conservation measures but also because the landscape is flat and open, allowing you to scan the horizon for a tell-tale ‘lump’ or shadow that turns out to be anything from a topi to a cheetah. This open flatness is also why two million ungulates, primarily made up of blue wildebeest with a smattering of plains zebra, pass through every year in search of fresh grazing, making up what is called ‘the greatest show on earth’.
You're out on a game drive when, slowly, your guide stops the vehicle, picks up her binoculars and scans the dense thicket. With a slight nod to the tracker seated out front, she reverses and points right... there, from behind a large shrub, you can just make out the first of a family elephants coming through the vegetation. Astonishingly quiet for such large creatures, you watch as one by one they come through, the little ones in the middle of the group, the rear brought up by a huge tusker that keeps an eye on everything.
African safaris are jam-packed with outdoor adventure, so you’ll need to be dressed appropriately. As you experience the captivating sights and sounds of Africa, you won’t want to worry about being uncomfortable or picking out an outfit each morning.
It’s impossible not to like giraffes. Their languid manner and slightly puzzled expressions have entranced us since one was shipped to a disbelieving Italy in the 1400s. It is an animal so peculiar in appearance that its scientific name - Giraffa camelopardalis - reflects its perceived similarity to both a camel and… a leopard.
Lions are one of the most sought-after sightings on a safari. The excitement of seeing them is somehow connected to our primal fascination with them. Thanks to their reassuringly feline name – Panthera leo – we know we are technically dealing with ‘cats’ but lions are startlingly huge, almost bear-sized. Their muscular, barrel-chested bodies and arrogantly jutting chins let everyone know who the boss is – and it’s not the 2-legged creatures wearing sunglasses!