Time to saddle up and ride? Indeed it was. One of the highlights of a recent visit to Kingfisher Villa was the daily double dose of not only one but two safaris offered. Morning and afternoon the vehicle drove out of the Villa gate to set the adrenaline pumping with might be seen.
Sightings are never guaranteed but the merest hint of the possibility of seeing a variety of species is enough to get the excitement levels raised amongst the guests.
Before leaving on afternoon safari, high tea was served and while I munched on a snack with a cup of teas at hand, this heron made an appearance on the bank of the dam in front of the Villa. I took this pose to be a sign saying “The best sightings are THAT way”…and it turned out that they were.
This was one of two crocs that appeared every day of my visit. Although it might not be seen as an ‘active’ animal, the history of Crocodilians will reveal that they are the closest surviving relatives of the dinosaurs and they have changed very little during the 150 million years that they have lived on Earth. (Natures version of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?)
Interesting facts about this species…
They can swim at a speed of 35kph. Their bite force is five times stronger than that of a lion.
The sex of crocodile hatchlings is determined by the temperature at which the eggs incubate. At 30ºC or less they will be mostly female; at 31ºC they will be mixed; and at 32ºC, they will be mostly male.
Can YOU tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?
You will see a crocodile in a while and you will see an alligator later!
Time for reflection? We had not yet left the Villa and we were able to tick off three species, with this large male warthog being the last of the trio. He had come to the edge of the dam to enjoy wallowing in the mud and snacking on the reeds.
An impressive set of tusks that can be utilized for either digging up food or defense.
This was part of a family troop of baboons that awaited our vehicle as we drove through the gate that leads from the Villa into the reserve. This was the Alfa male of the troop and what he ‘said’ was law. When a primate has canines as large as an adult male baboon, even leopards are wary of tackling them.
An Oryx, commonly known as a Gemsbok here in South Africa, was an interesting sighting not to far from the Villa.
Found on the open plains with a herd on Impala, this particular individual decided to stop and watch US as we drove past.
Did you know? Oryx squat to defecate and the pile produced is in a pyramid shape.
A safari highlight!
This young cheetah cub was one of three, the other two were lying together with their mom, just out of sight on the other side of this embankment.
This is Mom…seen later on during our safari as she crossed the road in front of our vehicle.
And another of the youngsters striding out over the same stretch of road. Always an exciting sighting.
Look closely and you will see that the Zebra has not grown an extra set of legs, but is in fact is protecting a foal.
From birth, young zebra have the same leg length as the adults, meaning that predators cannot differentiate between them and the adults.
And to preempt the question…Zebra are black with white stripes. And if you don’t believe me, you can Google that fact.
Giraffe do not have horns, they have ossicones and the males use them as weapons during combat, where they use their heads as clubs: the ossicones add weight and concentrate the force of impact onto a small area, allowing it to deliver heavier blows with higher contact pressure.
Ossicones start as cartilage and later fuse to the skull as the giraffe ages. Both males and females have them, with the female ossicones being thinner and tufted.
The King makes a royal appearance! A lion sighting while on safari is an exciting experience.
Do you know how the Lion became King of the Jungle?
“Long ago, on the vast African plains the animals lived without a leader. They gathered to discuss their predicament, searching for a ruler. The wise old tortoise proposed a race to determine the new king.
The Lion was the favourite and as the day of the race drew closer, some of his rivals who were faster and stronger, grew confident. On race day, the cunning hare offered to carry the lion on his back, and together they were bound to win.
As they crossed the finish line, the hare leaped off, allowing the lion to cross the finish line in triumph.
Grateful, the lion spared the hare’s life, establishing a kingdom in which wisdom prevailed over might. Thus, the lion became the jungle’s revered king“.
Now you do!
Hip hip hippo… We came across this pod of hippo on the way to our sundowner drinks stop. Always interesting to watch, some of the individuals were dozing in the fading evening light.
Fun fact: Hippo can neither swim nor float. When they submerge, they drop to the bottom and walk along to get to where they need to be.
Would you believe that the closest living relative of the Rock Hyrax (Dassie) is the African Elephant?
This close evolutionary relationship is deduced from similarities in the structure of the feet and teeth.
It is also related to the manatee and dugong. The most convincing evidence for these relationships is based on DNA.
Are you aware, dear reader, that there is an African folk tale that celebrates this connection?
“An ancient African tale tells of an extraordinary DNA connection between two seemingly disparate creatures: the Dassie and the Elephant. Legend has it that eons ago, the first Dassie courageously ventured near a slumbering elephant and, in an act of compassion, removed a thorn from its massive foot. Touched by this kindness, the Elephant shared a drop of its blood with the Dassie, forging a deep bond that last to this very day. Over time, this exchange gave rise to a unique genetic link, uniting these creatures across generations, reminding us that kindness and cooperation can transcend even the greatest differences in life“.
The end of another perfect day in Africa. Time to head back to the Villa where guests can share stories around the fire.
Images like this want me to wax lyrical about I have witnessed…
“As the African sun dipped below the horizon, its golden rays painted a masterpiece across the canvas of the South African sky. At the tranquil dam’s edge, the water mirrored the fiery hues of crimson and tangerine, creating a breathtaking reflection. Silhouettes of acacia trees and wildlife added to the enchantment, their outlines etched in ebony against the vibrant backdrop. The symphony of nature’s evening chorus serenaded the fading light, as birds bid goodbye to the day.
This South African sunset at the dam was a poetic reminder of our country’s unparalleled beauty, where the day’s end was a prelude to dreams beneath the starlit sky”.
Goodnight from Kingfisher Villa…Tomorrow we will head out on another safari to see what sightings await us.
To find out more about what the Villa has to offer, click on the logo above.
Check out the archived and current interviews… click on the image above.
All images are the copyright property of
and may not be used without permission.