Alan Fox is on safari in South Africa with SITA World Tours
his second report, from the Kapama Karula
lodge, is below.
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|"Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great
I'm sitting on the back deck of my casita at Kapama Karula
looking down at the Klaserie River. This is the second of three lodges
and private game reserves that I will visit on my safari. I arrived two
days ago via a 15-minute bush plane flight from my last lodge.
There are mischievous, black-faced vervet monkeys in the tree at the end
of the deck, watching my every move. I have dealt with their kind
before--they're hoping for an opportunity to sweep down and run off with
There's a huge lizard moving along the bank on this side of the river
and a solitary bull elephant grazing in the meadow on the other side. He
wraps his trunk around a section of tall grass, tears it from the ground
and shakes out the dirt before putting it in his mouth.
Kapama Karula is the finest of four luxury lodges sharing the enormous
Kapama Private Game Reserve
, just outside Kruger National Park.
The lodge offers 12 lavishly decorated suites surrounded by trees and
scattered across the property, ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,829
Each suite features floor-to-ceiling windows, a private swimming pool on
an elevated back deck, indoor and outdoor showers, bath, fireplace and
every modern convenience.
There's a beautiful, new spa with infinity pool and a well-equipped
fitness center. A spacious bar and lounge overlook the river. A library
and a shop filled with local crafts and souvenirs round out the
amenities. Guests do not lack for anything.
Gourmet fish, poultry and game dishes are served in the open-air dining
room and in the boma, a traditional, outdoor enclosure for dining. The
food here is truly extraordinary.
The grounds of the lodge are bordered by the river on one side and a
mile-long fence on the other. With predators locked out, guests can walk
unescorted to and from their suites, passing monkeys, mongooses and the
most relaxed impalas within a hundred miles.
Game drive highlights have included close encounters with rhinos, a lion
and a leopard. Rhinos are under tremendous pressure from poachers, who
kill them for their horns, which can bring up to six figures on the
black market. Misinformed end users in China and Vietnam believe ground
rhino horn cures everything from cancer to hangovers. Middle Eastern
buyers carve horns into cups and dagger handles.
On several occasions, our open-air Land Rover was surrounded by herds of
African elephants, the largest land animals on Earth. Elephants can grow
up to 13 feet tall and weigh up to 26,000 pounds. They look down on our
vehicle and are not the slightest bit concerned by our presence.
Elephants are born blind, weighing 200 pounds or more, and calves can
stand almost immediately. We saw a newborn elephant learning how to
walk, staggering forward, backward and sideways as it was gently guided
by the trunks of its mother and other adults.
Once they can see and walk, calves are as playful as puppies and are
curious when they see a vehicle. They'll walk straight toward our Land
Rover with ears flapping and trunk raised as if to trumpet until an
adult nudges them in a new direction.
Elephants rarely stop moving and they don't look for trails, they MAKE
them as they munch their way straight through the thickest part of the
bush. Uprooted and trampled bushes, limbs stripped of bark and leaves,
and the sound of trees cracking and falling are sure signs that
elephants are close by.
A single elephant consumes up to 300 pounds of vegetation every day, and
it takes up to 20 hours of eating to do it.
Elephants are intelligent and peaceful by nature. Despite their
unmatched size and strength, they do not bother other animals, except in
self-defense. They protect their young and each other. They adopt the
calves of adults that die or are killed by poachers or other
Elephants are said by some to have human emotions, to cry and feel loss
and mourn their dead. They may return for years to stand by the bones of
a fallen family member.
One herd was documented pushing and pulling the carcass of the family
matriarch for a week after she died, as if to say, "Get up!"
Elephant families are led by the oldest female. When males in the herd
near sexual maturity, they leave or are driven out of the family and
will spend the rest of their lives alone or in loose association with
The old fellow across the river may be past his days of mating. He's too
massive for lions to bother and he should be safe from ivory poachers on
this private game reserve. He could live to be 70 before he grinds down
the last of his six sets of teeth and starves to death.
That would be a long and lucky life in the bush; a noble life.
To view photos or a slideshow from this leg of my journey, please
Alan Fox is traveling for the second time with the deluxe safari
operator SITA World Tours
. The company has more than 80 years of
experience and specializes in guided travel to exotic destinations.
SITA offers upscale safaris throughout Africa on scheduled departures
for small groups but will also customize a safari for as few as two
people. They work with the best lodges and guides in each destination
and take care of every detail.
The safari experts at Vacations To Go can help you find the perfect SITA
safari. To see SITA safari itineraries in Africa,
To see all SITA tours worldwide,
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