On Monday we went on an early game drive before the sun came up and another one in the late afternoon until sundown. It was an awesome experience! We rode in the jeep and came close to zebras, elephants, lions, rhinos, hippos, antelope, and many others. We also spotted a leopard just hanging out in a tree! The animals are not too afraid of the jeeps that we travel in because they are used to them. We are not allowed to exit the jeeps though, or stand up in them, because the animals are not used to people walking around. The game reserve is privately owned and the animals are fenced in to protect them. In South Africa, if certain animals were not fenced in, they would either get hit by cars or eaten/killed by humans. The private game reserve lets the animals live in their regular environment safely, except from each other (the lions eat the antelopes and giraffes). We got some amazing pictures and really enjoyed out stay at the lodge.
On Tuesday we traveled several hours south to Hazyview. As soon as our bus arrived into town, we went directly to Elephant Whispers http://www.seasonsinafrica.com/adventure-activities-in-south-africa/lowveld-activities/elephant-whispers/ which was amazing! Mom is a huge elephant fan and really enjoyed this. We learned about elephants and were able to touch one and take a lot of photos up close. Everyday has been super busy and Tuesday was no different. After our long journey and elephant encounter, we finally made it to our hotel. The hotel's Internet was limited to a nearby restaurant which was about 5 minutes from our room and required a passcode which expired frequently.
On Wednesday the bus took us on a short drive to Kruger National Park http://www.krugerpark.com/ for a game drive. We arrived before the sun came up and drove in the jeep for 6 hours. We got some neat pictures but I think we saw more animals and took better photos on the previous game drives. It was interesting to compare the national park from the private game preserve. At the national park, they have an overabundance of elephants and our guide hinted at how they control the population.
Hazyview had great weather and our hotel was very nice. A nearby restaurant, Kuka, served amazing food. We tried Kudu for the first time—it was marinated in wine and onions for 3 days before cooked making it melt-in-your-mouth tender.