20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit the South African bush!

20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!
20 Photographs that will inspire you to visit African bush!

South Africa is a magical place of wonder that I am lucky enough to call home. The safari options are endless and the magnificent wildlife is in abundance. The bush beauty will capture your heart. If you visit, you are sure to leave with your soul shining a little brighter for it. Few things compare to the rush of viewing game on the back of an open vehicle that allows you to get right in on the action of the wild or the relaxing silence at night listening to the sounds of nature.   

Whether you visit game reserves such as the phenomenal Thanda in Northern Natal or conservation forerunners Shamwari in the Eastern Cape you will not be disappointed as it truly is a once in a lifetime bucket list experience! Have you viewed the Big Five before? 
If you find yourself in the historic Kruger National park then I highly recommend the breathtaking OutPost Lodge or if you don't have a lot of time to travel then fly into Johannesburg and take a short three-hour drive to the magnificent Ekuthuleni where luxury awaits you. 

No matter which destination you choose you will be left forever changed. The only question is, why haven't you booked your flight? Africa awaits! 

-Melissa 

Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

For as long as I can remember I have been in love with the African bush. Going on safari has a very special place in my heart. The silence, the fresh air and of course seeing the animals is one of my favourite things in the world. I am the girl who is glued to the TV watching Nat Geo and David Attenborough specials and dreams of watching the wild migration. I have known about Shamwari Game Reserve and the phenomenal work that they do in conservation for several years now, So naturally when the opportunity came up to visit - I jumped at it.

Shamwari game reserve (meaning ‘My Friend” in Shona) is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is an approximately one-hour drive from Port Elizabeth airport. Shamwari is home to the magnificent Big Five. Namely Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Lion, and Buffalo. It is a place where animals and people live in harmony and the animals roam freely.
Once you arrive in Shamwari, vehicles are left in a parking lot and for the remainder of your stay, transportation occurs in a luxury safari 4x4 vehicle complete with a highly qualified game ranger that will share knowledge and stories of the bush. 

Shamwari has several luxury resorts, manor houses and tented camps with breath taking scenery. Whether you are traveling as a fun loving family or escaping on a quiet romantic honeymoon, there is an accommodation to suit your needs. Shamwari also hosts corporate team building events and conferences and can cater to your requirements. 
I stayed at Eagles Crag during my stay. A gorgeous luxury hotel fashioned out of stone and glass. The stone seemed to mimic the open rock faces that surrounded the camp.

The rooms are detached suites that sleep a maximum of two adults per suite. The rooms have private plunge pools surrounded with lush bush offering ultimate privacy. The rooms are fitted with air-conditioner, mini bar facilities, bird spotting scopes and a glass shower that looks out onto nature! The rooms have king sized beds that you can get lost in. 
The food at Shamwari has a local South African flair. You can experience a traditional braai night (South African BBQ) and go on a taste journey with foods such as Potjie and Pap. Breakfast is served before the morning game drive and dinner is served with the fire place crackling after the evening drive. 

There is two scheduled game drives a day to explore the reserve and find the animals. As it’s the wild and animals are on their own time and schedule - it can be quite the challenge looking for the game but with knowledgeable Rangers at hand, you are bound to have some exciting finds.  
Be sure to visit the Born Free Foundation while you are at Shamwari. It's a foundation that works with big cats giving them a forever home that is worlds better than the cruel conditions that they came from in captivity. A truly emotional experience. If you would like to support this wonderful cause and read more, click here. 
Shamwari offers world class pampering in their on site Spa and a massage or facial is a must. 
You can also undertake guided walks, which offer a unique experience of seeing species on foot. 
If like me, you are always keen to learn more about the environment and the animals then make a visit to the rehabilitation center - I highly recommend it.
It is imperative that we learn about wild life in order to protect and conserve it. Shamwari conservationists (and so many others) are fighting what can sometimes seem like a losing war against poaching. 
It is emotional to see the exhibits but education is key to future conversation efforts and centers such as this help create awareness.
If you wish to read more and would like to make a donation click here. 

I will say this now, in its own paragraph, in its own moment. Rhino horn is made from the same keratin that makes our up our nails and hair. It has NO medicinal properties what so ever and there is NO scientific evidence to support this claim. It is a cultural belief and a myth. This myth is killing our Rhino and at this stage, if you are reading this, your children will not see a live Rhino in the wild. That is a fact. Let it sink in. 
I commend Shamwari on the war that they are fighting. You can see more here on what is happening to these majestic animals. To read more and donate, click here.

Shamwari has created a five-star experience centered around conservation and the beauty of the wild. It was a magnificent trip that I long for daily. If you can go, go. 
It is worth every second.  Being beside the most sentient and awe inspiring animals in the African bush is priceless.

-Melissa 

Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Tilney Manor at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Picture the Klein Karoo 350 years ago. Its beauty awe inspiring with deep blue skies, glowing red rocks and succulents scattered across the land.  The big five (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo) roam free and are found thriving in a seemingly unforgiving landscape. Incredulously, this harsh environment that is classed as a semi arid desert has the ability to sustain South Africa’s greatest game.

Now, insert modern man. The farmer to be more accurate. In a nutshell? The beautiful animals disappeared and everything changed. 

It sounds like a rather sad story and in truth, man has a lot to answer for. I could discuss at length how we are destroying our planet but instead I am going to tell a tale of the glass half full. 
A reserve that is doing everything in their power to reintroduce animals that once roamed free in the Klein Karoo and restore balance and sustainability to a landscape all but denuded in the interest of human settlement and western progress. 

Sanbona wildlife reserve is one of the largest private game reserves in the world, covering roughly 54 000 hectares. It boasts several lodges on the farm and I stayed at Tilney Manor, more suited for a couples retreat. Tilney Manor is a beautiful house that dates back to the early 1900’s and is run by friendly staff.
The manor offers a rim flow pool, spa, outside showers on your patio and a view over the entire Karoo from your luxurious bedroom complete with fireplace to keep you warm in the winter.

The reserve is owned by the Caleo Foundation, in association with Shamwari Group an NPO with a clear vision to conserve both people and animals on an equal footing, since both feed off the success of the other in a well balanced symbiotic relationship. 
I grew up going to the bush further north. The landscape is thick, lush and green close to the Kruger National Park. The Klein Karoo is the opposite. I was aware that the reserve host the big five but I couldn’t quite picture it. How did these animals survive this climate? There aren’t many trees to offer the animals respite from the scorching sun and at night temperatures can plummet to well below zero. 
It is testament to the strength of the animals to not only survive but thrive in this habitat and I could not wait to go on safari and see them.

I was lucky enough to experience two game drives a day with an incredibly knowledgeable ranger, Chris, in one of the newly appointed safari vehicles which ensured a luxurious drive throughout the reserve.
Our first sighting was something I haven’t experienced before. Since the game vehicles are not allowed to venture off the road, we alighted and took to the bush on foot.
After walking for about 250 metres we were stopped and briefed on the animal we were about to see, *Insert keep calm here*
Amazingly, we were upon a female cheetah with a fresh kill, less than 20 meters away. I stood in awe of such a majestic animal. 

Every sighting was humbling to say the least. The reserve has 6 lions, 3 of which are white lions. White lions are a result of a recessive gene and are beyond magnificent to see in the wild. 
The Lions at Sanbona are some of the last remaining white lion left on planet earth that continue to hunt for themselves in the wild. 

With buffalo and an amazing elephant herd sighting to follow, we were spoilt. We experienced a safari by boat and caught sight of the reserves hippo pod.
Each afternoon drive was finished off with sundowners and a beautiful view. To stand in silence and take in the Klein Karoo was simply spectacular! I had to take a moment and just… breathe.  

The food is centered on traditional South African cuisine and meals are served outside on the patio (weather permitting).
We were treated to a traditional South African braai, which in my books you can never go wrong with! Sipping gin and tonics around the open fire we talked about our days of exciting sightings with other guests and gazed up at the milky way. 
The food is unpretentious and made with love. The Chef is local and is truly a man who puts his heart and soul into his food.
My favorite dish was the crispy pork belly with camembert and juicy fig, finished off with the perfect crème brulee.

Thinking back over the last two days of my time at Sanbona and the amazing animals I saw, I felt a sense of hope. Hope, that game reserves such as Sanbona and the wildlife conservation programs they are running - one day, the beautiful landscape will be restored to its former glory. 
Hope that one day we can truly view nature as it should be, with respect for all things great and small.

-Melissa 

*If you would like to donate and help raise awareness against poaching in South Africa then click here. EVERY cent helps. 

*This blog post was sponsored by Sanbona wildlife. All opinions are my own.