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Freestylin' Safari at the Imfolozi Game Reserve
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Animal Species
Freestylin' Safari at the Imfolozi Game Reserve

IMfolozi Park


Photo by Andrew and Jodi Tanenbaum

By Andrew & Jodi Tanenbaum, Tanenbaum Family World Journey

I had always assumed that a safari would be rather boring and tedious. Driving around for hours and straining your neck to catch a glimpse of an animal, through binoculars no less, was not my idea of fun. Our recent wildlife safari at the Imfolozi Game Reserve (also spelled Umfolozi) in South Africa proved my assumption wrong. Searching the bushvelt for game was a thrill of a lifetime. Game drives, similar to hunting for seashells or snorkeling in a clear blue sea, turn up jewels in nearly every shape, size and color.

On our arrival at the 100,000-hectare park we were treated to a group of giraffes feeding on trees, we were ecstatic. And the giraffes were just the start. For the next two days we explored the bush and viewed hundreds of animals - zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, rhinos, kudu, impala, and more - up close, in their natural habitat. So much for my limited vision of a game reserve: a trophy lion in one corner and a few elephants at the gate.

My concerns about taking the kids were also ill founded. Our oldest son, age 7, was never bored. In fact he spent the entire two days scouring the bush for lions, though he was excited to see any type of animal along the way. Our youngest children, 3 and 5 years of age, were amused by the large herds of impala and, thanks to a supply of their favorite snacks, remained quiet throughout the game drives. While the big lion sighting turned out to be the least exciting game view, we needed binoculars to spot them, our children thoroughly enjoyed this rite of passage and are now full-fledged travelers of Africa.

Sleeping at the lodge and driving our own car to view game gave our family freedom and flexibility at a fraction of the cost of a private game reserve. And thus a final misconception was put aside: you need not mortgage the family home to view animals in the wild. A freestylin' or self-drive safari in South Africa is authentic, educational and fun.

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Travel Trivia
Magellanic penguins breed in: