Our Safari saga continues and it is now time for the main event, the game drives! We have been waiting for this for over a year and are about to embark on the first drive of the day. This is Part 2 of a several part series documenting our trip through South Africa to include a Safari, our trip to Cape Town and Hermanus, and our viewing of the Penguins at Betty’s Bay. This part details our game drives.

Our days on safari all had the same basic schedule. We would get up around 4:30 am, call for our lion bait, uh I mean escort, to walk us up to the main lodge. We would then have some light snacks and coffee in the main lodge before it was time to head out on our morning game drive.

South Africa is really cold in the mornings in early September! Royal Malwane gave us hooded ponchos to wear to stay warm and provided hot water bottles to hold on our laps (which were the same hot water bottles they would put under the bed covers in the evening to warm up the bed!). We would set out while it was still dark so that we could make our way out in the bush to start our day. We quickly forgot how cold it was-it was so exciting to hear the animals moving around and trying to get a peek at all those animals. We would spend 2-3 hours driving around to see what we could find, stopping for a few minutes to watch anything we were lucky enough to find. After our time driving, we would head back to the lodge where we would have breakfast-more coffee, pastries and something warm and delicious from the menu.

After breakfast, we would head back back to our room and have some free time. We would relax on our deck at the room, walk around the resort, sit up at the main lodge and have drinks or spend time at the spa. We had lunch on the deck at the main lodge everyday that overlooked the watering hole, where you could often watch elephants, warthogs, or other animals hanging out while you had lunch.

Lunch menus had several options to choose from-and there was always something delicious to have! They also offered different local beers and wines to try with every meal.

After lunch it was more free time until 4pm, when we would head up to the main lodge for snacks and drinks before we headed out on our evening game drive. More amazing viewing while cruising through the bush. Every evening, we would pull over and have a ‘sun-downer’ which consisted of some snacks and drinks set up on the front of the safari vehicle. We would get out and have a little picnic while watching the sun go down. How magical!

We would make our way back to lodge after the sun set, with the guides using a spot light to get some great night time viewing! When we arrived back at the lodge, there was always a warm drink waiting for us to take the chill away-our favorite was a night where we had cups of hot chocolate with a shot of Amarula in it! After a quick trip with an escort back to our room to drop off our stuff, it was time for a delicious dinner on the main patio, often with a giant fire going to keep us warm while we ate. Then we were escorted back to our room, where we would head to bed (after a peek out the pulled shades in case we could see anything lurking around outside) so we could get up early for our next day!!

The trip was overwhelming with the amount and variety of animals we saw. Below are some of the highlights of the trip, but be sure to check out the full gallery for all the images.

Big Five

We started checking off animals from our provided checklist as soon as we started. We were hoping to spot all of the animals comprising the Big Five.

In Africa, the Big Five game animals are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. The term was coined by big-game hunters, and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot, but is now also widely used by safari tour operators.

We didn’t manage to spot a Leopard. It was only the slightest bit disappointing. It was actually more exciting since we could use it as an excuse to go on another Safari! Nikola, our guide, really did her best trying to track one down with the help of Bennett the tracker. She even left us alone in the vehicle and wandered into the Bush looking!

During our stay, we learned that a Leopard would frequently visit some of the Villas during the day. We even met a couple who encountered it while walking on the path. We were not lucky enough to spot her, but I did check around our villa.

Looking for Leopard

Lions oh my

This is the photo that started my passion for Photography. I am not saying it was preparation or skill, it was just luck that everything worked in my favor to take this shot.

Lion Cub in the Morning Sun
Lion Cub in the Morning Sun

As we were watching the Lion, it decided to walk right past our vehicle. It was SO CLOSE!! My wife leaned back into me as she was in the seat closest to it.

Cheetah Cubs

We came across the most adorable Cheetah cubs ever! I have always loved the Cheetah from a young age. This was something I really wanted to see, even more than the Leopard. Seeing cubs was a awesome bonus!

Wild Dog Pups

During the drive, we came across a litter of Wild Dog pups sleeping in the shade. As we quietly watched, their mom came back to them and starting whining. Our guide explained the whine was their mother calling for them to come back. They quickly popped up and ran to her. Not long after, they made there way back toward our vehicle. They ended up laying down directly below our vehicle for some shade. They were the cutest, but SMELLIEST animals we have come across so far.


The sunsets are truly something to see. The horizon just glows orange as far as you can see.

View from our room

As we sat by the pool in our room, an elephant decided it was hungry. It began to eat from the branches of a tree right next to our front door.

Elephant Eating at Room
Elephant Eating at Room


There are many amazing bird species in South Africa, some of which look prehistoric. Here are a few pictures of the various birds we saw.

Endless Variety

There is so much to see here, it is overwhelming. Here are just a few of the pictures we took.

Baby Baboon looking tired

Elephant charges at us then turns and makes an amazing sound

During our drives, our tracker Bennett would sit on the front of the vehicle with a machete. We always wondered what he might use it for. Turns out, it is for cleaning a path from the giant thorns.

South Africa
Photos from my first Safari at Royal Malewane in South Africa and Hermanus in 2017.

Take a look below for our next post on our trip to South Africa.