Jabulani 404 We had a great time on safari in Southern Africa, but it ended on a subdued note.  We stayed at a place called Jabulani, which abuts Kruger National Park.  It was only relatively short distance from Mala Mala and very similar in what kind of wildlife you could see there.   But it was a lot less interesting on the wildlife front than Mala Mala.  Jabulani’s facility was terrific, and the food outstanding.  But the time out on safari was largely a yawn.

Jabulani 204 We did go to a conservation center focused on the Cheetah, but also with African Wild Dogs.  There is a Cheetah crisis in Africa, and the Cheetah population has dwindled.  This center takes in stray Cheetah, or breeds new cats, and then does its best to release them in the wild.  We got to feed a Cheetah up close, which was a bit scary but fun.  And the very misunderstood African Wild Dog, which we haven’t seen in the wild, was great to take in.   We’re still hoping, though, to see it in the wild sometime on the rest of our trip.

Jabulani II 063 We also took in a reptile center just outside of Jabulani, and got to see some very impressive snakes, chameleons, and lizards up front.  We loved it, although parts were sobering.  We watched a set of five Black Mamba snakes go after, inject venom into, and eat some soft, furry white mice.  My advice to you is to stay away from enclosed spaces with five Black Mambas!! 

Jabulani 344 They feature an elephant safari activity at Jabulani, and keep about fifteen elephants in captivity there.  This activity sounded great, but wasn’t quite as exciting as we hoped.  And we weren’t completely comfortable observing the way the elephants were treated.  We love elephants, but the elephant program at Jabulani won’t make our trip highlight film.

Jabulani II 140 We did get some great looks at lions in the wild at Jabulani, including some mother lions with their cubs.  And we ended up one morning in the middle of a Buffalo herd, which was impressive.  We picked up a few other interesting mammal and bird sightings, including the Sable Antelope and the Giant Kingfisher.  But after the tenth time that our Jabulani guide had pointed out to us a drongo (Africa’s version of a common blackbird) or spider webs, we were ready to push the fast forward button and get to Capetown.

Anyway, my advice to anyone planning a trip to this part of the world is to be sure to go to Mala Mala, and complement it with a stay in some place quite different in South Africa, perhaps someplace on the coast.

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