Savanna – June 2004

We had not planned on going to Savanna. We had booked a holiday in the Kruger Park and planned to spend some time in Mpumalanga first. Due to the fact that the parks board’s computer system was being replaced we had to drive from our guest lodge, Tanamera, to Skukuza in order to confirm our bookings. When we got there they did not have our booking, despite the fact that we had a response back from them when we made the booking. They informed us that we had to book again, and when we did they could not help us for the first two days of our stay and did not see this as their problem! We went back to our hotel and started looking at the Getaway for places to stay. We also hooked up our laptop to see what we could find and we happened across MTBeds. There was a number to call so we called that and explained our dilemma to the agent from their call centre. She told us to leave it to her and she would get back to us. She came back an hour or two later and told us that there was not a lot available but that if we were prepared to stay in the luxury rather than standard room, she had found accommodation for us at Savanna Lodge just inside the Sabi Sands reserve. 

We arrived at Savanna and got shown to our room. It was large with brick walls and its own pool. Its roof however was a canvas tent. We unpacked and then made our way to a late lunch/tea. We started our evening drive straight after this.

18 June – Evening Drive

We started with a sighting of buffalo, and followed this up with a rhino and very small calf. We also saw a secretary bird, black-backed jackal and elephant. On our way back to camp we saw a giant eagle owl.

19 June – Morning Drive

We got onto the vehicle in the early morning and it was freezing, but on our seats were blankets and hot water bottles! We made good use of them. We started the drive with giraffe. Our next sighting was Wally, or the Wallingford male, a magnificent male leopard. He was in some thick bush but we were able to get in close enough to see him. This was our first sighting of him but he became a leopard that we saw on numerous occasions in the future. We followed this up with some rhino and lions. As we returned to camp there was a small female leopard, Day One, just outside the camp gate. She was close enough that once we were back in camp, the ranger took the staff for a quick drive to see her too.

20 June – Evening Drive

Buffalo were on the menu again this evening. We then saw a water monitor and a young bull elephant drinking. There were zebra, wildebeest and 3 female lions. On our way back to camp we again saw a giant eagle owl.

21 June – Morning Drive

First we came across some giraffe and a bull elephant. We then found a spotted hyena sleeping, curled up in a hollow. We caught up with a breeding herd of elephant. They were really relaxed so we were able to get very close and they moved around in the front and side of the vehicle. The ranger was just very careful to ensure that we did not get completely surrounded. There were a couple of really small calves so it was wonderful to be close enough to see them as they popped into the open. There was however one cheeky teenager who decided to mock charge the vehicles – he wasn’t getting his own way with the other elephants so I supposed that we all looked like fair game! As we made our way back in the direction of camp we came across a cheetah and spent some time with it before going in for breakfast.

Lifers – African cuckoo hawk

We were very sorry that our time at Savanna was over. We thoroughly enjoyed it and loved this area of the reserve – the Western Block. We vowed to return and when we started to compare the full price of the Kruger Park, considered their lack of service and started to explore MTBeds and what it offered, we realised that private game reserves within the Sabi Sands were something that we could treat ourselves to from time to time…