South Africa has always been a place that’s intrigued me. It’s vibrant culture, warmer weather and awe-inspiring wildlife is all a stark contrast to the way of life I’d grown up with, and it kept on drawing me in, until one day I bit the bullet and booked my first trip. And my first trip abroad.I flew out to Nelspruit Airport, in the Mpumalanga region, via Jo’burg. There I was met by a ranger from the Kwa Madwala Private Game Reserve, the place that would be my home for the next two weeks. The drive to the Reserve felt like hours, but in reality, it was just over an hour.
I should say at this point that I booked this trip with the travel company Gap 360; if you’re after an organised tour or just in need of inspiration or help in booking flights, definitely check them out, they’re honestly incredible. I’ve now booked a couple of trips with them and I’ve never been disappointed.Once we arrived at the Reserve we were met by 3 Rangers who would be our guides for the two weeks. They were amazing; so friendly and approachable, and incredibly knowledgeable about the Reserve and the wildlife on it.Throughout the two weeks we were taken on multiple 4×4 game drives and horseback safaris, which were incredible opportunities that I will never forget, but one of my favourite memories happened not long after we’d returned from a horse ride.Throughout the safari, we’d been followed by a zebra that was raised by an ex-ranger, and had since gone on to live life as a wild zebra, but it still came back occasionally to visit the rangers. It followed us all the way back into the stables, and started to help itself to some of the horse feed. The guide that was with us asked if we wanted to feed it, which of course we said yes to!There are honestly no words to describe that experience. It was one of the most ‘magical’ and awesome things I’ve ever done.Another unforgettable experience was Kruger National Park. Teeming with wildlife, a day or two spent there is unmissable if you’re in South Africa. I was lucky enough to spot all of the Big 5 on both day trips we took to the game reserve.
So while there are a million and one things I could write about this trip, I thought I’d simply leave you with 5 of my favourite moments:
- Feeding orphaned elephants
There are 2 tame, orphaned elephants on Kwa Madwala Game Reserve, which you can spend time interacting with and of course, learning more about the species.
- Horseback safari
As previously mentioned, horse riding through the Bush, surrounded by giraffes, gazelles and so much more.
- Visit to a local day care centre and school
This was incredible. We had two day trips to the local centre where we had opportunities to play with the kids, learn about the centre, help with any DIY or cooking of lunches, and you also get to visit the attached school and visit the classes.
- Night-time safari
Armed with a spotlight, we headed out in 4x4s to discover what hidden gems we missed during the day…
- Anti-poaching trek
You’ll find a lot of game reserves have high levels of Anti-poaching programmes. At Kwa Madwala you can go on treks to learn about what they’re doing to prevent poachers from killing the precious and often endangered wildlife you’ll find on the reserve.
So if you’re ever in South Africa or are busy planning your trip and wondering where to go, I hope you’ll consider Kruger or Kwa Madwala. It’ll be the trip of a lifetime.