Visiting friends in Pretoria
After disembarking from Rovos Rail at Capital Park Station in Pretoria, I was picked up by a private driver who took me to my friends’ Sue and Geoff’s home in a beautiful Jacaranda lined street. Security is pretty tight along this street with my friends having seventeen-foot concrete fences with razor wire along the top surrounding their home and an armed guard response.
Driving along this street and others in Pretoria was actually beautiful and then seeing the huge homes…oh my goodness but again you have to be very careful driving as you may be carjacked if stopped at lights or at an intersection.My first day in Pretoria I took a bus trip to Soweto which was really interesting to see the Apartheid Museum and learn about the history [I will write on that separately]. On day two my friends took me to the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve which is a privately owned game reserve covering about 1200 hectares which opened to the public in 1990. I am always a bit worried about these private owned parks as I always hope the animals are not caged but allowed to roam free. In the main this one was very good.
As we were about to enter the park, I saw a pride of lions and lionesses. I was so excited and absolutely amazed at how magnificent these animals are. Just relaxing on the grass fenced off from the road but within a large area to roam. Geoff kindly stopped the car for me to hop out and take some photos through the fence.Our next stop was to the cafe just outside the park where there is a giraffe that comes up close to the landing as knows we will all have food for her which can be purchased from the cafe. I stroked her and she was so beautiful.
Then it was time to drive into the park, there is a small cost per person (goes to the running of the park) and after paying this, off we went on our adventure. We first saw some cute little warthogs and Impala and various other animals…all roaming free.Zebra was next for our viewing pleasure…We also saw several large horned animals – in photo order I think from memory they are Sable Antelope [what a beautiful animal], Wildebeest and either Waterbuck or perhaps Springbuck.We drove a little way towards the predator enclosure [I was happy that it is huge and took us ages to drive around] and first saw some wild dogs relaxing under a tree…As we were driving along the road one of us pointed out (think it was Geoff as he spotted most of the animals) this incredible lion…what a sight – I think I took sixty or so photos of the same thing as the lion didn’t really move but did change the position of his head a couple of times.A short distance away was the lioness – beautiful animal too.I could not of been happier at this stage and we reluctantly left to find the rhino; which I also could not wait to see! We drove around for some time and Geoff told me he had purchased tickets for the animal creche so we could pat the lion cubs and cheetah. How lovely! Again money goes towards the reserve and the upkeep of the animals.
When we went into this enclosure there were other beautiful animals – black leopard, black jaguar and clouded leopard but they were in smaller enclosures; made me very [very] sad. I know that we don’t want these animals to become extinct but I would love them to be able to run around rather than just walk around the sides of their grassed enclosures. I could see they are well cared for and had a good area to rest, but still it made me wish they could be free or in huge enclosures.I did pat the white lion cubs; there were two of them and they were awfully sweet. The public is allowed to interact with the cubs and cheetah for five minutes at a time which allows us to pat and take photos whilst being monitored by the keeper.The cheetah was very beautiful too; another magnificent animal. As were the white tigers especially the ‘teenagers’ who were playing and one jumped into a waterless well and looked like she was loving it.And in the next enclosure was the cutest Pygmy hippopotamus; quite a bit of room to roam around which was good.We left this area and drove around again trying to find the rhino; but to no avail – very disappointing but Geoff said he had seen them the week before but they didn’t want to be found on this day.
We drove past another very large reserve where the white tigers live, who on this day were relaxing near the entrance gates so we could not drive in as we were told they might try and leave and go into the reserve where the non carnivorous animals are (and guess that would mean extinction in this park for those animals!!).On our drive throughout the reserve, we also saw some lovely birds including baby Ostrich [how cute] and then it was time to leave; fantastic to see these amazing animals in this enormous reserve…maybe next time for the Rhino!Really glad I went and really grateful for my lovely friends taking me there!!