Booking a safari has always been one of my dream excursions to fulfil in my lifetime. The thought of being surrounded by nothing but raw, mother nature, untouched plain land with animals of different species roaming freely in their natural habitat, is my idea of a real holiday. I visited Johannesburg for two days and snatched the opportunity to do a game drive with Leopardsong Game Lodge.
I made my reservation with Leopardsong via email, days before arriving to Johannesburg. What is really great about the company is that they offer a decent discount if you are cabin crew. We (including other crew members) were picked up by a staff member from the lodge in a mini van, at our hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg at 1pm. We then proceeded onwards for an estimated 1 hour and a half journey to Dinokeng game reserve. Note: Leopardsong game lodge takes up to an hour to get to from Johannesburg international airport.
Once we arrived to the lodge, the staff of Leopardsong showed us around the premises and allocated rooms to each guest. I guess I picked the short straw because my room was much smaller than everybody else’s. It was a bit of a disappointment as I prefer more space. Nonetheless, it was still a nice room and had all the essential features as the other bedrooms in the lodge. For an idea of what the lodge looks like, please click here.
We gathered around the dining table and were offered a choice of ham and cheese toasty or a chicken wrap (fries/chips included with both meals). Once we consumed our lunch, we were free to relax, take pictures or wonder around the place before our game drive at 4pm.
My colleagues and I were introduced to our game safari guide known as T (I forgot what T is short for). T explained what to expect on our drive through the reserve and gave us strict instructions to follow along with the do’s and the don’t. She brought over to us a meerkat which was so bizarre to me. I have only seen meerkats in the meerkat, car insurance advert, meekat.com- in the U.K. With excitement and energy, I hopped into the 4 by 4 safari style jeep in anticipation that we will hopefully spot all the Big 5. Sadly, this was not the case. T advised that we may not spot all the animals as they could be hiding, resting and the reserve is quite large so we might not cover enough ground. Nonetheless, we remained hopeful and in high spirits- single lion king theme songs throughout the long 3 hour drive!
Pictures and words alone are insufficient to describe what I witnessed. I was overjoyed to see a variety of zebras, lions, wildebeests, giraffes, buffalos, rhinos, birds, wild hog (Pumba!), etc, living and surviving without the restrictions of a cage. The animals hunt for their food freely unlike other reserves that trap the animals in cages. I was delighted by the variety of colour around me- different greens, browns, the beautiful and colourful blue and pink sky as the sun was setting. Our guide engaged with us the whole time and educated us with informative and interesting facts about wildlife we encountered.
T stopped the vehicle in an isolated location and removed from it the drinks that we had preordered at the hotel. We stood there chatting away amongst ourselves whiles watching the gorgeous sunset. Afterwards, we made our way back to the lodge for dinner and more drinks again.
Back at the lodge, we were served a beautifully cooked, three course meal including steak cooked to the way we preferred. I always prefer my steak well done. I must add our meal was really delicious and satisfying. After filling up our bellies, we ordered some wine and beers which the lodge added to our tab. We gathered around the camp fire to relax and reflect upon the day before heading to our rooms to sleep.
The following morning we met T at 6am for another game drive which we arranged to have the day before. The morning game drive is optional so it is not necessary for guests to book it. It comes at an extra cost of 200 South African Rands- the equivalent of £10/ $14. We opted to go for the game drive again because we did not see as many animals as we would have liked to the evening before. We set out for another 3 hour drive on the mission to find and photograph more wildlife before departing back to the lodge.
Suggestion: I highly recommend packing safari style clothing or at least neutral coloured clothing such as khaki green, brown or black. I was under a misconception that it is always warm in Africa. I was certainly wrong! South Africa can get quite cold in the morning and night so pack a hoodie, blanket and cardigan in your suitcase. T provided us with blankets to wrap ourselves with and keep warm as we continued on our morning safari drive.
At the end, we packed the rest of our belongings and paid our individual bill for the total of the accommodation and game drive package at cabin crew discount rate, extra drinks we ordered and the optional morning game drive. We said our goodbyes to the lovely hosts, and T, our guide and then made our way back in the mini van back to our hotel in Sandton.
Honestly speaking, a game drive (whether it be with Leopardsong or another company) is one of the best things to experience on this earth. We did not spot any leopards which I heard it is quite hard to locate them anywhere. I also did not see many lions as I had hoped. I suggest to anyone going on any kind of safari to have a realist expectation that you may or may not see all the Big 5.
This game drive obviously does not compare to Kruger National Park, the Serengeti in Tanzania or the Masai Mara, Kenya as they are the mother of all safaris. Yet, it is still a more affordable way to observe wildlife and gives you a taster on what to expect. Book your African safari today!