SPOILT FOR LIFE: 5 days, 10 game drives at MalaMala – Part 3

Text and photographs: Astrid Bluemel


DAY 5 – and we thought it couldn’t get better:

Turns out Susi was right about the mornings. Just after crossing the river we see a rhino. Following leopards tracks we suddenly hear lions roar. Change of plan, let’s go find them! It all turns out a little different. In the riverbed we see a leopard, decide to follow him. At one point he starts jogging, he’s smelled something. In a tree up ahead is a female leopard with a kill. What will happen? He rushes up the tree, we see branches move, the whole tree shakes, the kill drops down, lots of roaring, hissing and growling! In the end the female rushes down and Mr. Treehouse enjoys a free meal.

Leopard with kill

On our way to the wild dog den our ranger suddenly turns the car and starts speeding. This is a sign something special has been sighted, he won’t tell us what. So the bets in the back seats are on male lions, cheetah, female leopard or lion with cubs, a kill….. it turns out to be a cheetah. Once again an incredible morning! Our new jeep mates aren’t doing too bad either, they’ve seen the BIG 5 in their first 24 hours and we’re not even trying!


This afternoon we head south, see elephants by the roadside, follow up on leopard tracks, watch another elephant crossing and when it’s almost dark we see three wild dogs on a kill. They leave, a hyena shows up and finishes what is left. He doesn’t like us being around and runs off with the last few scraps. We drive by an old kill, the two young male lions are gone, a big male lion is lying beside his prize and sleepily lifts an eyelid to look at us before he dozes off again. From here it is still a long way back to camp, and we are held up once again. An immense herd of buffalo blocks the road, they are just everywhere, buffalo as far as we can see in any direction. Our estimated guess is 372. Admit it Susi, afternoons are not so bad either!

Elephant and baby

Susi’s comment: It’s incredible, you think you’ve seen it all, but every day brings new surprises, new and different action. My favourite today was the big male lion with the kill. Mine was the elephants in the river, turns out every one of us had a different favourite, but we are all so happy!


DAY 6 – the icing on the cake:

Our last game drive, time went so fast! Just 100m out of camp a leopard beside the road, we follow him through the bushes, suddenly a loud hissing sound… flat tyre. We drive away from the leopard to a scenic spot on the riverbank and whilst we enjoy breakfast Piet changes the tyre. We cross the river and move on. Good thing we have the kids in the back, from their elevated position and with great eyesight they are sensational spotters. They see the two rhinos before any of us do, well done! We ae so lucky to see them, who knows how much longer we will be able to show our kids these wonderful, peaceful, prehistoric looking animals.


Back to the riverbed where there is a mating couple. We decide to sit it out, they will soon be at it again. As we are waiting another lion and lioness show up, they are the brother and sister of this male. The lioness walks up and greats her brother, but then when the male comes… they fight! In broad daylight, in the sand, nothing to obstruct them from our view, just 20m in front of or jeep, we have first row seats and it is spectacular! Plus I got it all on camera, yes, yes yes! That was so amazing! I was hoping for an elephant crossing but this is 100x more spectacular, what a way to end the day! Just when you think it can’t get better, something like his happens. Oh and by the way, we didn’t get to see the wild dog pups, they decided to move their den site just as we were visiting. We’ll just have to come again.

Lion fight

Lion fight

Lion fight

After lunch we fly to Johannesburg and from there home.

Susi’s comment: I must come again, I definitely want to see more. I need a bigger lens, will study my book and take English lessons so I understand more. One more victim…

I’d say the Africa bug has bitten her!


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