We had the opportunity to take an optional elephant back safari at Camp Jabulani, which is located on the Kapama reserve. It meant giving up a morning game drive and the cost was about $175 Canadian per person.
One of the rangers drove us over to the elephant camp at 6am. We were given some background on the camp, some information on the elephant as well as a brief interaction with them before the safari began. Camp Jabulani began when the had their first elephant, Jabulani, who came to the reserve. He had been raised by humans and they were unable to integrate him into the wild herd, despite numerous attempts. Jabulani wanted to be with humans, not other elephants. Over time, they were sent other elephants in the same situation, some of these mated and had babies and so the camp grew. In order to support the camp and raise funds to look after the elephants, they started offering elephant interactions and elephant back safaris to the guests of Kapama.
After meeting the elephants, we were seated two per elephant, with a guide in front. For an hour, these elephants walked through the bush where our normal game drives would take us. They stopped to break branches off to eat when they were hungry and they stopped to drink from ponds when they were thirsty. There were also a handful of the baby elephants following and playing with each other. We saw zebra, giraffe and wart hogs, as well as lots of impala. It was a worthwhile experience (despite the sore bottom) and Mark and I both said we would do it again!
That evening and the following morning we had two more game drives. On the evening one we were lucky enough to spot a cheetah. She was gorgeous and spent most of the time ignoring us, as cats tend to do. After the cheetah, we spent about 45 minutes in the company of a pride of lions. One male, three mamas, three toddlers and 6 babies. It was awesome to see the babies playing and the interaction and affection between the adults and all the members of the pride. The big male lion waled right past the front of the jeep at one point, sniffing the bumper and coming within inches of our tracker. Steven, our tracker, admitted after that was close enough to make him nervous!
On our last morning drive we were able to add crocodile and baboons to our list, as well as seeing hippos again. After having breakfast and packing up, we were taken on the short drive to airport and a huge gathering of giraffe were waiting at the gates to see us off. We hated to leave, it was the best holiday I have ever been on. Everything was perfect. We sadly said goodbye to Stephan our ranger and the others in our group and made our way to Johannesberg for a quick overnight on our way to Capetown.
In Johannesberg we stayed at the Metcourt Emperors Palace. It is 5 minutes at most from the airport. The rooms were small, but comfy and clean. They had a free hot breakfast buffet included. The best part is it’s attached to an entertainment complex, with lots of restaurants and a casino, as well as a movie theatre and nightly live shows. It was very Vegas style and an easy way to kill a few hours in the evening.
Today, it’s off to Capetown, the one and only hotel and chairmans circle conference. Stay tuned!