By Isabelle Nagy, Age 13
We landed in the middle of what looked like some kind of African forest. Right away, we were greeted by kind looking men.
Our many bags were packed onto green jeeps and off we went! Instantly, the feeling of being in the jeep was awesome. My sister and I of course chose the top two seats and it felt like you were enclosed in your own small, protected world.
The breeze felt heavenly and the view added to the experience. I was surrounded by dead trees, orange grass, and unevenly paved trails. We finally arrived at our lodge. The friendliness of the staff was overwhelming. They greeted us, took our bags, offered us towels and juice, and a man named Robert who said he was our chef for the week gave us tomato soup.
We were introduced to our room and it was the most exotic space I have ever seen. A canopy bed, private plunge pool, bath, two showers, huge closets, and more. I felt so grateful to be at Singita.
My parents told me that our game drive was going to be soon and I had no idea what to expect. I had a vague idea, lots of animals, beautiful scenery, jeeps, nature, but nothing else.
We had two game drives every day. One at 6 am (it was tricky waking up sometimes) and the other at 3:30 pm. For the ones in the morning, we had to have an escort since it was dark and you never knew what was lurking around the property. Before both game drives, we met for a light snack in the lobby.
Finally, it was time to head out for the drives. My sister and I always took the top of the jeep (they were the best seats). Once we headed out for the drives, the world around me changed. Each day, we were in new terrain. Some days, we were covered in lush green trees, other days, we were surrounded by dead grass and there wasn’t a tree in sight.
As a child, there was always some kind of National Geographic or nature video playing in my house so for me, it was as if everything was coming to life. Anyone can imagine being near animals, but the experience was something I could never even try to explain. The feeling of having a leopard walking one foot away from your jeep is indescribable.
We managed to see the Big 5 and more thanks to our amazing driver and spotter. They were the definition of the perfect game drive leaders. For example, a bucket list item for us was giraffes, so they wanted to do everything they could to find them. We were bouncing along the trails when suddenly the jeep stopped. There were scat droppings in the dirt and our spotter immediately knew we had caught onto something. He told us that the scat was two hours old, the giraffes were heading northeast, and we would intercept them in ten minutes. I thought they were crazy.
All I was thinking in my head was, no way!! Sure enough, in ten minutes we saw enormous giraffes poking their heads out of these thorny trees that they enjoyed eating. I was stunned. How are they able to do this? This was one of the most amazing things I had ever witnessed.
I thought it was over, but I had no idea what was in store for us later. Once again, we were driving through the terrain and our jeep screeched to a stop. Our spotter told us that an impala had been dragged through the sand by a leopard and they disappeared into the bush to investigate.
They came back and told us that the mama leopard has hidden the dead impala and she’s gone to get her cubs. Retrieving her cubs would take about two hours, we would come back then. Once again, we were back to see the leopard, her cubs, and the dead impala. The dead carcass was a little bloody and hearing the cubs and their mom crunching on the bones was not the most pleasant thing, but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world.
Out of nowhere, two hyenas came to steal the dead carcass. The thing about hyenas is, they don’t hunt for themselves, and they just feed off of others catches. A fight broke out for the dead impala and eventually the hyenas got half, and the mama leopard and her hiding cubs got the other.
Every day was a new adventure at Singita and looking back at it now, it all felt like a dream. A list of all the animals we ended up seeing included: Cape Buffalos, elephants, giraffes, hippos, impala, hyenas, lots of leopards, a whole pride of lions, monkeys, rhinos, wildebeest, zebras, cheetahs, and wild dogs.
In closing, the African safari and all of the beautiful animals we saw were some of the best memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.