We were quite lucky to even get park reservations over new years and once we arrived at the park were hoping that we’d be able to arrange for a New Years Eve night safari at our Satara camp.
The ride out to the remote picnic spot, where some champagne was waiting for us, was a quick one, but eventful nonetheless. Pulling out of camp we saw giraffe galloping, startled at the light, our first water buffalo, and a group of elephants move to protect a baby. This was interesting to us because during the day the elephants didn’t really feel the need to encircle a baby but I guess it was different at night with a bunch of lights being shined on them. We also saw bunches of spotted hyena off looking for whatever food they could find.
At the picnic spot, completely unaware of what time it was (we’d left camp at 11pm) our ranger guide joked that there were no lions around as he sat loading shells into his shotgun. Nice. We were escorted to the picnic tables where some chips and biltong sat waiting for us and a several bottles of pink-ish champagne, at least one bottle in each shade of red, and waited for the countdown to begin. One of the rangers told us a minute remained and then began talking, wishing us “Shalom” or “completeness through peace” as he translated it and several minutes later after being reminded started counting down from 10 for us to celebrate the new year. We shot off the corks, drank a touch of the pink stuff, spotted a crocodile across the river, and got back in the trucks for the remainder of the ride.
On the way back we missed spotting a rhino (the other truck saw it but it was hidden in bush when we arrived) but a bit later did get to hear the male and female rhino engage in mating calls. Our guide managed to spot a snakes, the boomslang, in a tree whose bite would kill us in a matter of hours and we continued on spotting more hyenas (whose howl was quite eerie), buck, and zebra. To round out the trip, several juvenile male lions were hanging out on the road just before we got back to camp (literally about 200m from the gate) . Just what we wanted to see before heading off to bed!