We set off for the Mountain Zebra National Park for some game viewing before beginning our African Safari. The accommodation is basic but very comfortable. The first morning we set off for some cheetah tracking. One of the male cheetahs has a collar as well as one of the female cheetahs. Initially, we tried to find the male, but four hours later, the ranger was unable to get a signal. The cheetah probably was on the move and avoiding our efforts.
We changed tactics and tried to find the female. We located the signal quite quickly and set off on foot to try and locate her. About a 5km walk and we came upon the female cheetah with her half-grown cub. They had recently made a kill, and at about 10 meters, we could still see the blood on them. A short photo opportunity and then the ranger asked us to back out so as not to be too intrusive. On the way back to the vehicle, we thought we had bumped into a black rhino. The ranger was a bit unsettled explaining that he had recently had a bad experience while cheetah tracking with a black rhino. We made a very wide birth and returned to the vehicle.
We returned to camp for a late brunch. Rested for a few hours and then did a self-drive around the park. We completed a 4x4 trail in the park, which was a lot of fun. We Saw some very impressive Eland amongst the typical array of Plains Game. Springbok, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest and Red Hartebeest were plentiful. Just before sunset, we came upon several Buffalo feeding in the thick brush close to the camp. A great ending to the first day of our African safari.
The following day we checked out of the camp to make our way back to Olivefountain ranch to begin our African hunting safari. But first to try and find the lions.
We had heard the lions roaring early in the morning from a great distance. Having determined the direction, we set off to try and find them. We drove to the Northern end of the park and found a pride of 15 lions which had just finished drinking. The pride made their way across the African savanna and parallel with the road for about 5km, and we followed them - what a fantastic siting. We then exited the park and drove to Cradock for brunch.
On arrival at Olivefountain ranch, I found the lodge had recently been upgraded with very comfortable rooms all with en-suite bathrooms. We settled in and began shooting in rifles. We used Nick’s 7mm Remington Magnum. Andre had never used a sporting rifle or shot an animal, although he had completed some military service early on in life. Nick first had Andre on the bench with some dry firing and going through the basic procedures. After which some live firing off the bench followed by firing off shooting sticks (Tripods). Most African hunting is done off sticks because of the terrain. With Andre feeling good about the rifle and the basics mastered, we set off for an evening hunt.
We drove around 20 minutes to mixed scrub and savanna area where Impala and Springbuck are in great numbers. We began walking up a low valley and soon enough spotted a Springbuck Trophy ram. We stalked the ram and Andre made his shot. A little low. We spent a few hours following the trail and Andre finished his Springbuck ram off. His first African Trophy. We returned to camp to enjoy dinner next to a blazing fire with a very happy first-time hunter.
Up early for coffee and we set off just after first light. This time it was my turn. We went back to the Savanna area and parked on a flat ridge overlooking a valley and began walking along the crest of the ridge glassing for animals. This area has larger amounts of Impala. We soon spotted a suitable ram and started a stalk down into the valley. I set up on the tripods and was successful - a beautiful impala ram.
We continued our walk this time up the bottom of the long valley. Andre held the rifle and again not long before we spotted another good Impala. Andre took his shot and success. A great morning. Two fantastic Impala Rams and we set off back to camp for brunch.
In the afternoon, we went a little further afield along a long ridge interspersed with thickly bushed valleys. We were on the lookout for a good Kudu Bull. We drove along the ridge, glassing into the valleys - lots of Kudu but no big Kudu bulls. About an hour before last light, we spotted a good bull. We started a long walk over the ridge and at some point, lost sight of him as slipped into the thick brush. We never saw him again. Not called the grey ghost for nothing.
We continued our quest for Kudu and headed up to a mountainous area about 45 minutes’ drive away. This area was vast with deep valleys stretching up the mountainside of a huge box canyon. As we drove up the bottom of the valley, we would stop every few miles and glass the big valleys running up the side of the mountain.
There were plenty of Kudu to be seen. The bulls we spotted were to high up to launch a stalk without being spotted. We enjoyed a packed lunch high up in the mountain overlooking a deep valley. The 4x4 tracks through the valleys and mountains were thrilling. But no luck and we set off home. Hunting Africa’s most elusive trophy is never easy. We enjoyed venison back straps from a Mountain Reedbuck over a blazing fire.
Up early as usual and continued our quest for the elusive Kudu. No luck in the morning hunt for Kudu but Andre had managed to shoot a good Warthog. Andre held the rifle, and we moved into an area we had not previously visited.
We began a slow walk down a creek glassing as we went. Midway way down the creek, we spotted a Kudu bull and started stalking him. We got to about three hundred yards, and Andre took his shot. The familiar thud and Andre made his first shot count. The Kudu, however, did not go down and a second shot was required. Andre had his Kudu and was delighted. We began the task of loading the Kudu and getting it back to camp. Finally arrived at camp just before nightfall - success at last hunting Africa’s most elusive trophy.
We began the day again looking for Kudu this time I held the rifle. We spotted Kudu in a deep Valley not far from camp. We started a stalk, but some cows in between us and the bull set him off down the valley. On the way down the valley, we saw some Mountain Reedbuck. I had already shot a Mountain Reedbuck earlier, so Andre began a stalk with Nick and was successful.
That afternoon we went up higher on to the plains to look for Black Wildebeest. At first, we were unsuccessful with several ambushes not working out. Towards evening we set up an ambush in a shallow valley. Andre and I both shot a Black Wildebeest in quick succession in the late afternoon.
We needed to shoot two White Blesbuck as part of our hunting package. The Blesbuck are on the open plains and often require longer shots. So, we decided to use Nicks 300 Sako Winchester Magnum. The 300 was mounted with a Swarovski digital range finder and an automatic holdover for the required distance. First, some practice at targets using the range finder. All went well with our long-range shooting practice.
We drove out on to the plains where there was a large herd of common and white Blesbuck. We set up an ambush. Both Andre and I were successful at shooting a white Blesbuck at around the six-hundred-yard range. Late that afternoon, I stalked and shot a Springbuck.
My only outstanding animal in the package was a Kudu. Nick offers very competitive all-inclusive packages. The cost of an all-inclusive seven animal trophy hunt is comparable to shooting one Elk in the United States.
We spotted three Kudu Bulls against the hillside. On the sticks and I took my shot. Hit but not down. We moved forward and set up an ambush alongside a ravine where we saw the Kudu bull enter. The trackers began walking through, looking for blood. But quite suddenly the Kudu cane out against a steep embankment and I was able to finish the job. A fantastic end to our hunting safari in Africa.
We spent Sunday in the Addo Elephant park with some magnificent sightings of Elephant Lion and Buffalo before our departure back to Europe.