A Safari Enthusiast
Zimanga, in KwaZulu Natal, is the first reserve in Africa designed for avid safari enthusiasts whilst simultaneously satisfying the needs of modern wildlife photographers of any level, both who prefer a deeper appreciation of the bush and crave an unhurried exclusive experience.
Spread over nearly 70 square kilometers of pristine Zululand bushveld, fever tree forests and rolling hills, Zimanga is bisected by the Mkuze River and home to a splendid variety of animals and birds. Species including lion, elephant, wild dog and cheetah roam freely across the region and can with luck be tracked down for unparalleled game viewing and photographic opportunities and the mornings… from sunrise, are fantastic!
To say that almost everything that we experienced felt like a privilege, would be an understatement - can you imagine being allowed to almost be part of a wild animal’s Babysitting crew and a predator at that?! Well these increasingly rare Wild Dogs allowed us to do just that, to stay at the den with one or two (other) adults, looking after the cubs while they went off to hunt!
WARNING: SOME DISTURBING SCENES
We were then lucky enough to find evidence of said hunt… as we caught the excitement in a dry riverbed (scroll past if you’re a little squeamish).
“I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat… I did, I did!”
Sat crossed legged on the warm ground, this close to an adult cheetah who was so relaxed in our presence was an amazing experience! It just looked, listened and observed, obviously having decided that we were neither prey nor threat - it was comfortable and just led there taking in the rising temperature, as we transitioned from the surprising coldness of sunrise into the gentle heat of early morning.
Not as fast as a Cheetah…
…then, all of a sudden this cheetah got up, stretched a little and began to walk towards me!!! Now, as many of us know cheetahs can reach a top speed of near 70mph and I’m fast, but not THAT fast! So my only option was to remain seated and take in its steady approach, whilst my heart pounded at a somewhat accelerated rate… and then as quickly as it got up, it changed direction and slunk past me, heading for the gap between me and a nearby bush and then was gone.