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Our Journal

The Magic Of A First Safari

The energy that first-time safari goers exude, that of complete innocent excitement and anticipation, is extremely infectious to all who witness it. This feeling is also amplified as the upcoming experience is something completely new, out of one’s comfort zone, venturing onto a new continent that you have only watched documentaries on or dreamed about…

Chris recently returned from an incredible safari through Southern Africa. The feeling prior to the guests departure, as described above, was thoroughly satisfied through the wonderful adventures which ensued. Venturing through beautiful Botswana and sunny South Africa to visit some of the most iconic wildlife destinations, the journey was certainly one to be remembered forever.

Our first camp was to be Little Vumbura in the Okavango Delta. A firm favourite for its fantastic combination of water and land activities, it always delivers some phenomenal wildlife experiences which was proven straight away on our first game drive. We had already found a pride of lion which was followed by a stunning sighting of a leopardess not even an hour later. To finish off this afternoon, nothing could have been more perfect than the cheetah sighting we found on our way back to camp. To see all of this in one single game drive was quite astonishing and we couldn’t believe our luck! This afternoon set the tone for some exciting safari days ahead.

During our stay, local activities were an absolute must. Between boating and mekoro rides, we were able to see the Delta from a different perspective and at a slower pace, taking in all the tiny details that give this place its magic. A highlight on this trip was actively tracking and then finding a pride of lion, who after a few minutes proceeded to chase a leopard out of a tree, setting up some incredible photographic opportunities for us in the golden afternoon light. We experienced a truly rare sighting of a Spotted-necked otter, a small and elusive animal not many visitors get to see! Elephants, giraffes and hippos were aplenty and seen almost every drive. Although they are more common wildlife, they make Africa what it is and it is always special to see them.  What a phenomenal experience in the heart of the Okavango Delta!

Little Vumbura Camp.

Lions spotted within the first five minutes of our game drive.

Perfect afternoon light surrounds a peaceful lioness.

Leopard spotting 101.

A more perfect photo opportunity couldn’t exist.

A lioness looks for the leopard her pride chased out of a tree.

Fishing for the elusive tigerfish.

A hippo displaying his impressive jaws.

The perfect end to a perfect safari day!

A beautiful kudu cow.

Red lechwe, perfectly adapted for life in this watery haven.

A Saddle-billed stork.

Around the fire with stories, laughs and relaxation.

A Spotted-necked otter, a real treat to see!

A morning out on traditional mokoros through the winding waterways.

Peaceful water cruising.

One last safari surprise, a cheetah spotting on our way to the airstrip.

Jao Camp, our next stop, had just been completely refurbished and blew us away with its grandeur! The food, service and immaculate settings of the place were astonishingly beautiful. Due to irregular rainfall and the shifting of water channels, this normally completely flooded part of the Delta was less so, meaning the floodplains were open. This allowed many animals that are not usually seen in this area making use of the new, more accessible grazing opportunities. Predators had also shifted their movements and territorial lines, therefore we were able to find them on previously unoccupied land.

We had first hand experience of this when we saw vast herds of zebra, ostriches and general game not commonly found in the area in huge numbers. What was truly special though, was finding two massive male leopards having a growling contest, a battle of “whose land belongs to who”. What a rare and mind blowing sighting!

The hippos had been confined to smaller pools and channels due to the lower water levels, giving us the chance to see them out of water which was also rare and unusual. All in all, a superb achievement by the entire Jao team on their exquisite new camp and a thank you to everyone involved in allowing us to see some unique and wild animal interactions.

The new Jao Camp.

Traditional dancing in the Jao Boma.

The Jao floodplains were uncharacteristically dry, but this brought many new animals to the area.

Dusty sunsets and ethereal elephants.

Jumping for joy!

A large male leopard stares down another as they have a stand-off for territory.

Two boar warthogs fight for a sow’s attention.

A raft of hippos basking in the sun.

A quintessential representation of the Delta.

Heading to Singita Lebombo in our private chariot.

Singita Lebombo is located in a private concession within the Kruger National Park, South Africa. It is a unique area of the reserve, with the lodge nestled along the Lebombo mountain ridges. Fine dining from world-class chefs, an unmatched wine selection and staff service beyond measure is what we had to look forward to at camp. Magical wildlife experiences beyond compare were waiting for us to discover in the wilderness beyond…

When you are looking for male lions, but find a female pride instead, and then, another pride bumps into them, you know your are in luck and that something exceptional is about to happen… This is exactly what happened on our first night out on drive. We waited in suspense as the prides came together until finally all fury broke loose! Lionesses fighting lionesses, and in all the commotion, three male lions came running in, roaring with all their might to try settle the dispute between the two female prides.

The next few days were spent exploring the reserve, doing bush walks and soaking up the last few precious moments of our safari. It all culminated in a special sundowner drink stop at a magical view point on the border of South Africa and Mozambique.

With great company and a radiant sunset, our life changing safari came to an end.

Singita Lebombo Lodge.

Incredible sightings from camp!

Reflections of a giraffe.

Dinner and dancing under the stars.

One of many prides of lion we encountered. Incredibly lucky!

A dazzle of Zebra.

Kruger sunsets.


Some White rhino, a long awaited find after a track and search.

A walking safari through the rocks and boulders of the Lebombo mountains.

Incredible scenery.

A final surprise stop right on the Mozambican border.

A sad farewell and the end of a phenomenal trip.

As always, it is extremely sad to say goodbye to a family that you bond so closely with through all of the incredible moments and experiences shared together.

Thank you for truly opening yourselves up to Africa and all her magic, we hope you will carry the memories made with you forever.


Warm Regards,

Chris and The Safari Architects Team.