Monday, 1 September 2014

Out of Africa - Lake Kyle

In planning our travels to Zimbabwe the one thing I really couldn't wait to experience was being on safari. The idea of being in a National Park surrounded by incredible animals and wildlife has been a dream for so long that when the day arrived I couldn't quite believe it. Our first safari trip was to Lake Kyle National Park where we stayed for one night in the lodges in the park.

The scenery at Lake Kyle is amazing; the backdrop of mountains, the grasses, the lake - it's a world away from home. Driving along the roads into the park I was so excited to finally be on a safari trip. Game drives are unpredictable and there is never any guarantee that you will see any wildlife so I didn't want to make my expectations too high, I was happy at the thought of seeing anything at all...

Along the first few winding roads we saw very little as the rainy season had been really good and the grass was really tall but as we turned the corner into a more open area we were greeted by this majestic creature! He was eating from the trees in the background but he soon got curious and came to see us a little closer up. It was truly amazing to have a giraffe so close and to be able to appreciate the size of them.

If seeing Mr Giraffe so close wasn't enough a few minutes later a little one came to pay us a visit too. I (along with most of the world) have a soft spot for baby animals so I was absolutely thrilled to see this little guy! I felt so lucky to be there, having such a special experience.

That wasn't all I was going to see that day though, far from it. J had told me that Lake Kyle is a great park for seeing white rhino but that they were still pretty elusive so not to expect to see any. Although I excepted this I was still pretty hopeful so when I strained my eyes towards the lake and caught sight of some grey boulder shaped things I was so hoping they were what I thought they were. I was right - several white rhino! We also saw plenty of zebras (on the right above) and wildebeest.

In total we saw five white rhinos that day and I feel so grateful that I was able to see some of those amazing creatures. Black rhinos are endangered and white rhino are also at risk as their horns are so valuable so it was a brilliant opportunity to see them in the wild, especially as there may come a time when they are no longer found there.

We stayed the night at the camp and woke up in the darkness of early morning in order to catch the sun rising and the animals waking. I'm told it can be the best time to spot a leopard as they prefer to walk on the dry roads than the dewy grass (unfortunately we didn't spot any). But the sunrise itself alone is enough reason to be up so early: it is sensational. Watching it appear beyond the mist and the mountains felt incredibly serene and peaceful. There is nothing quite like it.

Spot the baby kudu! 

We saw plenty of game in the morning; kudu, reedbuck and bushbuck (far too quick and nimble to photograph), warthogs, and rockdassies which were too far to photograph but are absolutely adorable. 
Having had a dream come true I can safely say my first safari trip definitely did not disappoint. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to see so much of Africa's amazing wildlife. Lake Kyle National Park was fantastic and I'd definitely recommend a trip there if you travel to Zimbabwe and you want to see rhino!
Next instalment: the Zambezi River!

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