Our first day at Jaci’s had already set the bar so incredibly high – I remember wondering how on Earth could things possibly get better?
But of course, in true Jaci’s style, things really did.
We braved our early 5.30am wake up call with bleary eyes, but after blinking away the sleep and turning off our alarms, we could hear the incredible roar of lions – and it sounded like it was close.
That sound was all the motivation we needed to jump out of bed and scoff down a light breakfast as quickly as possible. We wanted to get out on that game drive as soon as was physically doable.
For our efforts, we were quickly rewarded. We found ‘the Troublemakers’ literally just outside the lodge, prowling around in search of the areas dominant male and his pride.
There are three of these adolescent lions, they are all brothers, and they have been given the nickname of ‘the Troublemakers’ for good reason! They are certainly not content to simply find their own space in Madikwe, instead, they seemed very determined to find the dominant male, kill him, and take over his pride of females.
We spent most of the mornings drive chasing these lions, hopping between the troublemakers and the pride in which they were looking for – the Kwena’s. As it turned out, the pride had been split up and were doing everything they could to avoid these three pain in the ass teenagers.
We found the three lionesses running as fast as they could, and quickly found that the pride had completely split up in their effort to evade danger.
We later found out that they had successfully stolen the remains of a hunt from the Kwena’s, and soon found two of the three teenagers going to town on (what remained of) what looked like a wildebeest.
One of the teenagers either wasn’t hungry or had eaten his fill and had taken it upon himself to stretch out and rest in the middle of a road. I certainly wasn’t going to complain – it allowed me to capture some of my favourite shots from my time in Madikwe.
How gorgeous is this face?
Eventually it was time to say goodbye to the (unbelievably entertaining) lions and head back towards the lodge before it got too hot to bear. On the way we spotted a cheeky face poking out at us from within the scrub, finally – a giraffe!
Game drives at Jaci’s are only done in the morning and afternoon due to the intense Madikwe climate. It gets incredibly hot during the day, so many of the larger and more exciting animals (especially the big cats) are less active during these hours, and not quite so fun to spot. However, even during the hottest parts of the day, many animals remain active, and in these warmer hours they visit waterholes to keep themselves hydrated and cool.
So, with that in mind, the innovative team behind Jaci’s Lodges came up with something called a terrapin hide.
So, what on earth is a terrapin hide?!
Basically, they have built a long concrete walkway from the river bank down to the water, allowing you to see the animals from a completely different vantage point – something that is completely unique to Jaci’s Safari and Treehouse Lodges.
We ventured down to the hide and decided that we’d wait around for around 20 minutes. If we didn’t see anything then we’d go and do a session at the outdoor gym (Dan’s idea, definitely not mine) but as it turned out, we didn’t need to wait long.
Pretty much immediately we spotted a lone female kudu…
…but within mere minutes, an enormous herd of impala had arrived!
A herd of impala may outrank one lonely kudu, but in the African hierarchy, there isn’t much that ranks more highly than elephant, so when this stunning ellie came along, the impala all moved to a smaller section of the waterhole.
No joke, less than ten minutes since we arrived in the hide, and this was now the view in front of us!
Seeing the wildlife from the water level gave me such a different perspective, and it was so special to watch them drink and interact with each other, all whilst having no idea that we were close by.
I only wish that I had had a telefoto lens with me!
I guess I will just have to go back one day…
After about 20-30 minutes all the ellies had departed and we decided to do the same. We had another game drive not long after, so we decided to head back to our room and freshen up.
This led to the most amazing shower of my entire life, but I’ll write more about that in the next blog.
Getting to Johannesburg: OR Tambo is extremely well connected internationally
Federal Airlines: Fed Air provide safe and comfortable transfers to regional areas of South Africa – click here for more information
Jaci’s Lodges: One night in a Starbed suite starts at 10,600 rand – which includes all meals, game drives and basic spirits. Click here for more information about Jaci’s Lodges.
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Bring more memory cards than you could ever possibly need, because you will end up needing them!