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5am wake-up calls on safari in South Africa

COFFEE. Coffee, coffee, coffee was an essential part of the last couple of days spent on safari in South Africa. But I’m not complaining. Despite being the absolute opposite of a morning person (it takes me a good hour or two and an unhealthy amount of caffeine to shake off the antisocial vibes I seem to drink in while unconscious), when the alarm went off at 04:50, I was surprisingly spritely. Why? Because I knew what lay ahead of me. A sunrise safari through the Pilanesberg National Park in the North-West of South Africa.

It’s my very first experience of a game reserve, and it lived up to all of my wildest expectations. Pilanesberg is one of the more understated national parks in South Africa and, as a result, relatively quiet regarding visitors. With an area of 572 km/s, the park is often overlooked for it’s more well-known neighbours (for comparison, the Addo Elephant National Park is 1,640 km/s, and the famous Kruger National Park is a mindblowing 19,485 km/s). But, being relatively small and still teeming with animals means that spotting wildlife is guaranteed. Whereas in the Kruger park you may drive for an hour or two without spotting a thing, in Pilanesberg you never drive more than 15 minutes without seeing animals – and we saw multiple sightings of 4/5 of the Big Five in just two days (check out the photo gallery for the full experience!). We were treated to up-close sightings of rhinos, elephants, zebras, lions, wildebeest, warthogs, impala, all with a breathtaking backdrop of the rolling hills of Southern Africa.

On this particular morning, we also welcomed a rumbling thunderstorm, with thunderclaps so loud that they reverberated through my entire body and caused me to let out an embarrassingly loud and completely involuntary scream. Twice.

So, despite looking more than a little grumpy in this photo, was I happy for a stop at 0700 for my third cup of coffee of the day? Yes, I was. But would I drag myself out of my plush, luxury game lodge bed before the sun bleached the sky to do it all again? Absolutely. Again and again and again and again.

Check out the b-e-a-utiful Ivory Tree Game Lodge for your South African adventure!

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