Big 5, Big Fun, & Big Impact

Simply WOW! Our trip to South Africa was amazing and as we return to our “normal lives” we are forever impacted by what we experienced together.

If there was one word for the trip it would be animals. Before we even got to the safari we saw sharks, penguins, seals, baboons in Cape Town. We enjoyed a hike up Lion’s Head as well as a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 20 years. Cape Town is a beautiful coastal town. We had a great guide, Paul, who shared a lot about the political and social transition the country has had in recent history and is still going through. Four days was barely enough.

A quick flight to Skukuza and the minute we left the airport the safari began. We drove in our open air Jeep to the MalaMala Game reserve and saw animals immediately. Mala Mala is part of the private Sabi Sand game reserve which is adjacent to Krueger National Park. The place was magical! On our first drive we saw elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes. We were so close to the animals and got to see them in their habitat with their young, hunting for food and living as animals do. Our ranger for every drive was Tim, a South African native who grew up in the bush. His knowledge and love of the animals was amazing. Between MalaMala and Kapama we did 11 safari drives. We were amazed at how each drive was different and showed us something new. From all these drives we each picked a favorite memory.

McKenna: Following a Pride of Lions in the morning who were going to the river for water.

Jess: The amazing size and scale of rhinos and elephants. Felt like he was in Jurassic Park.

Sadie: Watching the leopard and her cubs playing in the grass.

Bethany: Following a Lion in a night drive as he patrolled his territory. He walked right next to our Jeep and ranger Tim calmly advised us to “just stay still”.

We talked a lot with Tim (and Ben the ranger at Kapama) about the horrific poaching that is occurring. Rhinos are going to be extinct in under 10 years at the rate they are being killed for the believed magical powers in their horns. Horns can be worth over one million dollars and this has created a difficult and dangerous situation. It is not just Rhinos though, last year four animals became extinct including one type of Rhino.

We have been so fortunate to experience so much together as a family. We are in awe of the beauty of the people, animals and land of South Africa. We return grateful and much more aware of the planet we are all a part of.

We have been anticipating this trip for awhile!

Lion’s Head

Great hike to the top of Lion’s Head


Added lots of photos to the handstand collection

Ready for our Shark dive!

Sadie in the shark cage!

Lots of copper sharks (and huge sting rays) were seen

Beautiful Cape Point

South African penguins at Boulders Beach

Loved the waterfront Harbour, staying at Victoria & Alfred Hotel and of course Haagen Dazs!

Ranger Tim and our amazing vehicle for the drives. Off roading was fun and a common experience.

Mala Mala is right on the reserve so we saw animals all day long from our rooms, lunch, swimming. We did get an escort back to our rooms at night. Clap for leopards, stay still for lions 🦁

The Big 5 and Jess!

McKenna’s favorite drive memory

Jess’s favorite drive memory

Sadie’s favorite drive memory

Bethany’s favorite drive memory

Ranger Tim joined in the hand stand tradition

A different kind of bunny we found on Easter Sunday

Girls received their official Big 5 certificate

Ranger Ben and tracker Foster at Kapama.

Cool opportunity to interact with elephants at camp Jabulani.

This one was a little tricker than the other monuments that are not living!

This beauty needs to be protected & available for all generations

Video by the girls with highlights

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