Good Morning Africa !! We arise on our first day here in this amazing country and what a beautiful start to the day it was . We had a bit of a lie in this morning as we were not due to leave until 1 am so it gave us all a bit of a chance to catch up on some much needed rest after our long flights yesterday .
Breakfast gave us all a chance to really sit down properly as a full group and begin the process of getting to know each other and even from our first meal together we have already all began to gel and it definitely seems like the next 2 weeks is going to be awesome !
Before we departed on our transport which will take us up to Somkhanda Game Reserve where we will begin our adventure we sit down for our first group photo as a proper team and be able to look back on it and think this is where it all started .
We loaded up the vehicles and began the first leg of our journey which will take us roughly 3-4 hours up the East Coast of South Africa to Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Project which is our first stop . The drive up was a fairly quiet one so it gave us a chance to catch up on some extra rest or get to know some of the others in the group .
As we pulled up to Emdoneni we caught our first sightings of some of the game life that surrounds these areas like Impalas . It was then time to begin our first activity as a group . Our guide for the day was Deon and after giving us a brief introduction to the work they do here at the centre we were walked into the African Wild Cat cage . They seemed just like normal house cats but had much longer legs as you would expect from a predatory animal and were told just how fierce these cats could really be .. even eating the bones of their prey ! And they still let us interact with them and pet them ..
Next up was the Caracal cage where we met Bar-One and his missus Lulu .. he took no time at all in running up to us , strolling around having a sniff to suss us out … but he had a limp which we were told was arthritis as he was getting old and will now only be used for breeding as he can’t be released because he would be too weak in the wild to survive .. soo sad as he was such a beautiful animal with this lynx look about him .. did you know they can jump over 3m from a standing position !! crazy !
Then the moment we had all been waiting for .. THE CHEETAHS !! even just watching these graceful cats pace up and down in their vast enclosure was intimidating enough and Deon told us it was close to feeding time .. was this really a good idea right now ??! haha . But what the hell we are only here once so it had to be done .. again we were taught about their feeding habits , natural habitats and other facts about gestation etc and breeding habits .. apparently the fastest Cheetah ever recorded was at 122kmh !!! WHAT !!
It was then time .. WOOP ! One by one we were asked to come up and pet them but were told to stay away from the ears and front of the neck etc .. a few of us managed to interact with them but they seemed disinterested once they saw Impala running in the distance and got that hungry look in their eyes haha so we moved onto the next cage with 2 smaller female Cheetahs who seemed much more relaxed .. this time all of us got plenty of time to spend with them stroking them and getting up close and personal with them etc .
They were soo cute and fluffy and it kind of distracts you from the fact that these are amazing predatory animals who would have no problem taking one of us out lol , one even took a great interest in Audrey .. we think she may have been trying to steal Doug from her haha but she was having none of it lol . It was such an incredible experience , we could have stayed with them all day or even taken one home with us … you lot at home wouldn’t mind .. would you ??
Last stop was the Serval enclosure , these were just a little bit smaller than the Caracals and had a grey/whitish body with black spot markings and white spots behind the ears which are supposed to look like eyes so that it deters some of Africa’s largest Eagles from taking them as prey as they think the cat is looking at them . But as it neared feeding time it was fairly hard to try and interact with them as they seemed pre occupied with dinner but it was nice having the chance to get close to them .
It was then time to hop on the Safari vehicles which was so cool so we grabbed our lunch and ate on the vehicles heading towards to the reserve which was still at least an hour or so drive away . We stopped off to pick up a few snacks and things to keep us going for the week and made our way to the Somkhanda gates . We even saw some Nyala .. another larger type of antelope and a Giraffe on the way !!
We arrived at the camp in the dark and were shown to our tents in the dark ( this’ll be fun trying to find our way around later on ! ) We will be sharing 2 to a tent so the brother / sister combo’s are bunking together and so are our lovely couple Doug and Audrey who celebrate their 5th month anniversary today ! The rest of us just paired off .
Once settled in to our cosy little tents we headed own to the main reception area to have some dinner as it has been along day of travelling . The latter part of the evening was spent around the camp fire where we were introduced to one of our guides for the week Riley who gave us a quick briefing on the reserve itself , some do’s and don’ts while we are here and to tell us that there are no fences around the camp so anything could come walking by or spy on us at nights in our tents .. FANTASTIC :/ !! haha
Our Team Leaders Tara and Ben then handed us our official Reach Out T-shirts that we can wear with pride and settle us into a game of 2 Truths and a Lie – so we each had to say a few facts about ourselves and everyone had to guess the lie .. was a great way to learn something new about each other and made us feel a lot more comfortable ! – Did you know we had an Olympic Archer and a Grand Champion Goat Show-er in our midst. Also Will said that he could put both legs behind his head .. of course we believed him but wanted to see anyway – here’s the result haha
Anyway it’s been a long day and we are excited to get cracking and begin our adventure in the morning so we are going to hit the sack and get some much needed rest .
NIGHT ALL 😛