Africa's fables start with wild mammals, the true giants of the savannah. They're quick to leave an impression as elephant and buffalo herds are regularly seen around the Sabi Sands airstrip. After landing at O. R. Tambo International in Johannesburg, it's a short domestic flight into this Sabi Sands wilderness, where you're picked up in an open-sided safari vehicle for the first in a series of game drives. Paw prints in the sand lead you to a leopard's hideout, high in a sausage tree. A pair of rhino wander past, elegantly, stoically, every footstep a display of defiance against poaching. Giraffes dapple the horizon, and you quickly come to recognize the different antelopes, from nimble springbok to large bashful hartebeest.
An intimate lodge provides the base for the next two nights in this private reserve. It's a gentle introduction to Africa, wild sounds accompanying the evening yet opulent fittings providing a Western-style luxury. Your private terrace overlooks a floodlit waterhole, helping bring safari sights long into the evening. Today's afternoon's game drive is flexible dependent on your mood and energy levels; perhaps a short loop around the surrounding savannah or a longer journey attempting to spot all the revered mammals on your first day in Africa. As with most days on the itinerary, meals are included, and local guides offer a fascinating insight.
Day 10 - 11