Presenting…The Safari Awards
*I look so scared in this photo because if you look real close that elephant’s trunk was blowing air on the back of my body. Our ranger told me not to move, so I didn’t. 🙂
Going on safari was truly a once in a lifetime experience (at least for now, though as I’m writing this post, I’m already dreaming of another trip sometime in the future). Not only did we get to see every animal on our wish list, we got to see them with our great friends, Jeff and Catherine (you can check out their travel blog at thecunningtravels.wordpress.com).
Being on safari took us into the breathtaking and cutthroat world of the African bush. We got to observe the food chain in action, the circle of life as baby animals were learning the ways of the bush and older animals were becoming nourishment for animals in their prime, the communication networks that help animals survive, the impacts of a drought on safari life, and sheer intelligence of the animals at the top of the food chain.
This vacation of a lifetime is thanks to the unbelievable animals of the Sabi Sands Reserve and amazing staff at Nkorho Bush Lodge. Their unbeatable lodge and service kept us happier than a hippo at a watering hole.
Drum roll please… after polling the other animals and human guests in Sabi Sands, we would like to congratulate the following animals for winning this year’s ‘Animal Choice Awards’:
Most Popular: A Dazzle of Zebras
I’m sure there is an official explanation for why a group of zebras is called a dazzle, but I think it’s because they will dazzle you with their presence. The zebra is always dressed to the nines in chic black and white, while surrounded by her squad. All the cool zebras sit together at the watering hole.
Most Likely to Succeed: The Birmingham Four Lions
We all know lions are at the top of the food chain, but the aptly named Birmingham Four Lions of Sabi Sands are named after the Birmingham bombers. This group of male lions has been wreaking havoc on the area. In one night, they went on a testosterone filled rampage and killed six buffalo for the sport of it. I know I wouldn’t want to get in their way on the journey to the top.
Most Desirable Date: Karula the Leopard
Karula the leopard really has a way with the men. Due to her irresistible nature, she has mothered almost all the leopard babies in the Sabi Sands area. It could be her graceful stalking or her glossy, spotted coat, but the male leopards just can’t resist her. Still not sold on Karula? We’re also told she’s a fantastic mother and takes great care of her cubs. We were lucky enough to see Karula mating with another leopard in the bush, which is said to be a once in a lifetime experience as they can be very private animals.
Class Clown: Teenage Elephants
Need a laugh? Look no further than adolescent elephants. They bring a smile to even the grouchiest of faces by swinging their trunks around, flapping their ears at the safari vehicles, and pretending to charge the vehicle until they realize they’re acting a little big for their britches.
Most Lovable: Lion Cubs
Fuzzy? Check. Playful? Check. A little naughty? Definitely check. The seven lion cubs of Sabi Sands stole our hearts. From rolling around with their brothers and sisters to working on their roar (you didn’t think we’d make it through this whole blog post without a Lion King reference, did you?), these soon-to-be big cats will melt even the coldest of hearts. Don’t let their cuteness fool you though, lions cubs have a tough go at it. Elephants try to trample them and leopards and hyenas will hunt them. Only about 40-50% of lion cubs will survive to adulthood. Tears.
This pride of lion cubs has a disease called mange, which gives them a slightly gremlin look. With good care from their mothers, they will grow out of this itchy disease.
Most Gruesome: Dining Hyenas
Hyenas hustle and they don’t care about their image. They survive by scavenging anything they can get their sharp teeth on. Hyenas took gruesome to a new level when we watched them eat a dead giraffe from the inside out all with a big hyena smile on their faces. Plus, they’re pretty ugly. (disclaimer: our rangers believed that the giraffe died of old age so you can stop crying now.)
*observing hyenas and vultures dine on a giraffe was one of the most disturbing, but meaningful experiences we had while on safari. We got to see the food chain in action. As a giraffe’s life ended his meat and bones gave hyenas, vultures, turtles, leopards, and lions the meat and calcium they need to grow and survive. It’s the circle of life, ya’ll.
Best Dressed: Giraffes
If the bush has a super model, it’s the giraffe. Long legs, graceful movements, and a killer patterned coat to top it all off. Work it, giraffe, work it.
Friendliest: Nkorho Lodge Staff
We would not have had the world’s best time on safari without the amazing people at Nkorho Lodge. Our rangers, Arie and Chene, made sure we saw The Big 5 regularly, learned tons of interesting facts about the animals, and stayed entertained during lulls in sightings.
The chef and staff at the lodge kept our bellies full of delicious food and were there to fulfill any needs and wishes with a smile. We met wonderful people from all over the world and loved getting to know the staff over wine before dinner. Fingers crossed we will make it back to Nkorho someday!