On safari, your daily schedule is set by the lodge with time to relax during the day. If you are not a morning person (me) you will quickly learn to morph into one or you will miss out, and you don’t want to miss out!
At Inyati, the daily schedule looked like this:
05h30 Wake-up by Ranger (no phones – the ranger would knock on the glass door and wait for you to answer)
06h00 Morning Safari game drive (coffee/tea, pastries before leaving)
15h30 High tea in Main Area
19h30 Pre-dinner drinks at the Bar
So each day, I had my alarm set for 4:30 am and had to resist hitting the snooze button as I needed to answer the wake up and be at the lodge by 6:00 am ready to go. I was the last to arrive each day as I skipped morning coffee/tea electing my power bar and a bit of water for breakfast (i wasn’t in the mood to experience the “bathroom in the bush”). As it is quite cool in the morning, layers are essential in addition to the blanket provided in the truck. Don’t forget the sunscreen (the sun will come out and heat up) or the bug spray before you go.
Each game drive would be different as we relied on our guide/tracker and also listened to the radio for sightings. On this morning, we were initially fruitless in our search for animals (i think they hit the snooze button!) so we drove toward a hot spot we had visited the night before – a dead buffalo (we didn’t see the kill) being guarded by lionesses under Richard Branson’s Ulusaba Private Game Reserve (looks amazing!).
The circle of life was in clear focus this morning as we came upon two other vehicles watching the lions eating the buffalo while the lionesses rested and waited their turn (um, the cute Lion King scene this was not). We parked with an unobstructed view but down wind of the buffalo being ripped apart and there was a slight breeze this morning (I was happy not to have any breakfast in me). What you immediately notice (other than the awful smell) is that this is normal feeding – kill or be killed in the animal kingdom. This viewing was unusual as all the guides pulled out their camera (which were as long as my arm!) to take their own personal photos . We were told that it was quite rare to see this many lions feeding and being able to photograph it.
After we had spent enough time watching the lions eating buffalo for breakfast, we moved on and luckily no one was sick but it was pretty close for a few people. The day was heating up and we all started shedding layers of clothes and blankets opting for sunglasses and a bit more sunscreen. Our next sighting was a herd of buffalo, I wonder if they knew the fate of their friend but alas life goes on. A different circle of life can be seen here as the bird sits atop the buffalo eating the bugs off his back as the buffalo grazes for breakfast.
The rest of the game drive was tame in comparison to the lion’s breakfast sighting but wonderful nonetheless as everyone seemed to be starting their day together.
We skipped our morning coffee break to stay out longer. The morning drive was so different from the evening one, I can see why you need to do both to get a good feel for the animals and their schedules. Making our way back to the lodge, we stopped to see a tree squirrel that seemed a bit out of place given the other animals we were seeing but it was a reminder of the smaller animals that reside in the park – not everyone is Big 5.
As we neared the lodge, the river bank was deserted in the morning but we needed to look in the water…
Happy to be back at the lodge, I was ready for my full English breakfast and comparing notes with the other guests. Nearing noon, I returned to my room to reflect on my morning as I reviewed my photos. As I pondered what to do with the next 4-5 hours, my body quickly reminded me that I am not a morning person and that i was now going to morph into a person that naps….