National Park Reservations or Private Game Reserves? What do they have in common?
Along the years I had various opportunities to travel and experience several safaris. I love capture animals behavior. Their love, care, protection towards the other members of the herds is just so innocent and true comparing with humans in general. So going back to the common point? The answer is ‘Nothing‘!
National Park Reservations are the ones accommodating the real life of the animals. Big Five, Ugly Five (yes sir, it does exist), Little Five, Shy Five and Impossible Five, are all living under the same sky sharing the same food. There are lodges available and carers obviously but those are not interfering with the natural habitat of animals life-cycle. Lion prides are allowed to hunt the other herds. That’s the real wildlife that you want to see!
The best time to experience a safari will definitely be early morning or on the sun-down (not to mention winter time rather then summer time). Animals are resting during the hot summer days and only early morning they feed(prides are hunting around 4 AM) and evenings they watering. No wonder all the luxurious lodges are situated around rivers. Is the most real and beautiful thing that one can see, learn and associate with real life. If you are lucky enough to find a hot-air balloon safari, consider yourself a winner.
South Africa (is the easiest to travel – as no vaccination is required) detains around 20 National Parks, however Kruger National Park is the most popular, covering a lot of species.
If you are really decided to see something rare and special, try one of the most extraordinary phenomena in the natural world: the annual 1,800-mile migration of millions of zebra, blue wildebeest and other antelope between the Serengeti in Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara in a constant search of food and water. That’s my target for next year. Also available with the hot-air balloon.
While National Park Reservations offers so much, Private Game Reserves on the other hand offers you an extra-large Zoo where they only accommodate pairs of each breed (if you are lucky) and of course 5 stars establishments in the African Bush. While visiting a Private Game Reserve in my last trip to Cape Town, I had to face the reality. It seems like animals are trained to work for their food (which they get around 20% of the actual need – using our guide’s words). The venue is amazing. The food, the staff, location, one can’t complain about it. However, everyone should know that Karoo (which is a desert area around Western Cape) can’t accommodate wildlife unless one provides extra food. Private Game Reserves it is a waste of money unless you go specifically for the accommodation and the resort.
Therefore my honest opinion: When you choose a safari expedition, don’t go for Private Game Reserves. They can’t offer more than a 5 stars Zoo really. Use a National Park Reservation instead.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
Kruger National Reservation
Going back to our animals life as promised, let me inform you more about the Big Five, Ugly Five, Little Five, Shy Five and Impossible Five.
The Big 5 refers to five large mammals found in Africa which are the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo.
Where to see the Big 5:
The Big 5 can be seen in plenty reserves in Africa but it is worth doing your research to ensure that you are visiting the right places. Swaziland is a great place to see rhino, in fact if you don’t see rhinos in either Hlane or Mkhaya, you probably will have had your eyes closed. Chobe in Botswana is a great place to see elephants (there are around 100,000 there), and migrating herds of buffalo can often be seen in Moremi along with leopard as well. Savuti, also in Botswana, is very good for large prides of lion.
The Small 5: Refers in fact on insects, and has been created by guides who wanted people to look at the smaller and more elusive species in the African wilderness. They are the ant lion which is often found in sandy areas and is the size of an ant, the leopard tortoise, the elephant shrew which is an insect eating mammal with a long nose, the rhino beetle and buffalo weaver.
The Ugly 5: The members of this most exclusive of clubs are the hyena, vulture, wildebeest, warthog and the marabou stork.
The Shy 5: are a completely different set of animals. They are the meerkat, the aardvark, the porcupine, the aardwolf and the bat–eared fox.
The Impossible 5: These are certainly very rare and tricky to see. They are aardvark, Cape mountain leopard, pangolin, riverine rabbit and white lion (in the wild).
FEW FACTS ABOUT THE LIONS
- They have the Loudest Roar: A male lion’s roar can be heard from up to five miles away. Their roar helps them find other lions as well as to proclaim their territory. Prides territory may include up to 100 square miles.
- A National Symbol : Lions are associated with pride, courage, and strength, making them a perfect national symbol. Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, England, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Singapore all regard the lion as their national symbol.
- A Complex Social Structure: Lions live in large groups called prides, similar to wolves (but not most other cat species). A pride consists of multiple related females and their dependent offspring along with two or three unrelated males. A typical pride has about 15 members, although some prides as large as 40 members have been observed.
- Females Live Together for Life: Female lions, sisters, live together for life. Their female cubs also stay with the pride, even after they’re grown, but male cubs must venture out on their own once they reach maturity.
- Sadly there are only about 34,000 lions left in Africa, which is about half the number that existed 30 years ago. They say that African Lions may be extinct by 2050.
FEW FACTS ABOUT GIRAFFES
- They are the world’s tallest mammals. They are well known for their long-necks, long legs, and spotted patterns. Their long necks help giraffes eat leaves from tall trees, typically acacia trees. If they need to, giraffes can go for several days without water. Instead of drinking, giraffes stay hydrated by the moisture from leaves.
Giraffes can be found in central, eastern and southern Africa.
- Giraffes are non-territorial, social animals. They travel in large herds that are not organized in any way. Herds may consist of any combination of sexes or ages.
Giraffes have small “horns” or knobs on top of their heads that grow to be about five inches long. These knobs are used to protect the head in fights. Females horns are thinner with dense hair, while males horns are thicker with hair smoothed from sparring with other males. A male may grow a second pair of horns behind the first pair.
- Female giraffes typically give birth to one calf after a fifteen-month gestation period.
- Giraffes are hunted for their meat, coat and tails. The tail is prized for good luck bracelets. The coat is used for shield coverings. Habitat destruction and fragmentation are also threats to giraffe populations.
FEW FACTS ABOUT THE ELEPHANTS
- An adult elephant requires up to 300 kg of food and 160 liters of water per day.
- About 100 elephants are being killed every day for their ivory.
- African elephants have the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom.
- Elephants sleeps 2 or 3 hours each day.
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.”