AG African safari

By Kylie Piper 8 November 2013
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AG Society administrator Kylie Piper heads to africa, where the animals are big and the landscape bigger.

AG Society administrator Kylie Piper reports back from Africa, where the animals are big and the landscape bigger.

IT IS MY FIRST day in Africa and I can’t stop smiling. The grin started with the first glimpse of the continent from the plane: vast expanses of land divided so symmetrically into farming pastures; roads cutting across the land and rivers snaking through it, their meanders breaking the square and triangular pastures; brown crop circles, circular irrigation zones I am told, dot the landscape.

The scene is reminiscent of the outback Queensland pastures I have flown over so often, but for the striking colours. The browns and reds mix together, at one point so dark that it almost looks like a blood stain across the plains. The irrigated pastures are a stark green in contrast.


We speed north along the highway from the airport — 120 in an 80 zone and just barely keeping pace with the surrounding traffic. We pass housing developments and industrial areas, a squatters’ camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which is used mostly by refugees from Mozambique, and other countries to the north.

We arrive at the Farm Inn, our accommodation in Pretoria, through the security fence and to the stone buildings that will be our home until the tour officially begins. As we make our way through the lobby I can’t help but love the “African hunting lodge” that I have just walked into. Huge leather chairs litter the bar, and lining the walls are the heads of a variety of African animals. I half expect a pith helmeted, moustached English general to stop by for an afternoon gin and tonic!

The first official duty of our group is to meet Anthony, a 12-year-old cheetah raised on the property, and twin white tiger cubs. Their purring is a low vibration that seems to come from deep within some cavernous region of the belly. These are just one of the many animals that reside at the Farm Inn.

We hear the low rumble of lions in the distance that are part of the big-cat breeding program that includes cheetahs, pumas and white tigers. Our group of 13 then climbs into an open game vehicle to head into the lion’s den — a gorgeous dinner area surrounded by the big cat enclosures.

We sit around the open fire on individual tables and are treated to our first African brae (barbeque) including the first of many bowls of mielie pap, the traditional corn/maize dish that is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Bertus Hanekom, our South African guide for our expedition, takes us through a blow-by-blow description of our journey. We listen intently, every so often interrupted by the call of the lion, a great start to our three-week expedition through southern Africa.