It took us three days to drive from Cape Town along South Africa’s "Garden Route" to Kariega Game Reserve, but it was well worth the drive. Once it was 27 farms, which have all been returned to the wild. A fictional British TV series, Wild at Heart, screened a few years ago, told about much the same thing.

The animals at Kariega were imported as soon as the environment became suitable for them. They’re constantly monitored, and sometimes traded or exchanged with other reserves to control numbers and prevent inbreeding.

We were met with drinks, fruit boxes and personalised water bottles on arrival, then ushered in to lunch. In the late afternoon, we were taken on our first game drive. We searched unsuccessfully for hippo, but we did see nyala, giraffes, zebras, kudu, rhino, and wildebeest.

Having ‘shot’ these animals with my camera … they’re still there for someone else to photograph. What’s been getting under my toenails recently is the proliferation of photos on social media, of ‘hunters’, usually overweight and ugly, smirking besides an animal they just shot … with a rifle!

Our second game drive started at 6.40 the following morning. Who knew it could be so cold in Africa?  Megan, our guide, was so well wrapped up, all you could see was her eyes. However, she proved extremely knowledgeable, as well as being a fearless and competent driver. A useful skill, considering the terrain to be negotiated in search of the animals we wanted to see.





Our main target this morning was lions. And, here was a male, standing proudly in the middle of the track, until slouching off at the approach of the cruiser. Another male was close by, just sitting in the grass being a lion, seemingly unperturbed by the activity around him.


The evening drive was marked by observing a herd of elephants up really close. They just went about their business, seemingly disregarding the other creatures, including humans, around them.

We stopped in the middle of the Reserve for ‘sundowners’, and drove back to the chalet in the dark. And, the game drive continued; we saw a leopard toad and a dwarf chameleon. Full marks to guide Megan for spotting these in the dark!


On the last day, we were taken on a cruise on the river. There wasn't much to see in the way of wildlife, but the scenery was spectacular. But, on the way there, we stopped at a waterhole for another attempt to see hippos. They were there, but largely submerged for most of the time … that's what hippos do. We have better pictures of hippos, taken on previous occasions, but nevertheless, we can honestly say we've seen them in the wild.

On our last night at Kariega, they laid on an outdoor barbecue, or braai, as they call it in South Africa. To entertain us they brought along a choir of children of all ages.12577742484?profile=RESIZE_710x

Those children are beneficiaries of the Kariega Foundation, a non-profit trust that was set up because they believe they’re there to benefit everyone and everything, not only the animals. The children benefit from the Early Childhood Development Programme, or the Youth Development programme.

You can find out more about the Kariega Foundation at https://www.kariega.co.za/foundation/about-the-kariega-foundation 


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