My South Africa safari experience: the one moment that could’ve gone terribly wrong

hungry lioness at Kruger National Park

Three of the days that we spent in South Africa were at a game lodge in Kruger National Park. Although the whole trip was just incredible, these three days were probably my favorite part of the trip.

South Africa sunrise

The craziest thing that happened to us during our three days’ worth of safaris (six safaris, three hours per safari, 18 hours of safari time total) happened within the first five minutes of our very first drive.

It was just four of us: my husband Joe, the driver Dumay, Lukas the tracker, and myself. We were just moseying along through some twists and turns—a bit uneventful. 

Suddenly, we take a turn and charging straight at us (well, not at us but in our direction) is a massive giraffe running for his life—literally. Three lionesses were nipping at its heels and we came within a few feet of colliding into all four of these animals.

Lionesses chasing giraffeUnfortunately, this is the best photo my husband was able to get because it all happened so quickly. I didn’t get any photos because I was just in shock.

Hats off to Dumay who managed to swerve just in time and get us out of harm’s way. It was amazingly frightening and just heart-stopping. Dumay and Lukas (Lukas had been a tracker for 30 years!) both said they never saw anything like that before, and as awesome as it was, Dumay explained to us just how badly things could have ended if we ended up crashing into them. He told us about another African safari in which a game truck collided into a giraffe and a part of the giraffe crashed into a woman, breaking her back. I told him I wished he would’ve saved that story for the end of our trip!

Angry lioness

Due to our near-collision, the giraffe ended up getting away and the lionesses were not pleased.

Three lionesses

Lionesses walking single file

We followed them for a while as they continued to hunt.

Giraffe in Kruger National Park

We soon spotted the giraffe in the distance, who was keeping a close, watchful eye on the lionesses.

Lionesses hunting giraffe

They soon noticed him, too. But I think they gave up on him for the evening.

Lionesses hunting

Lionesses in Kruger National Park

Eventually, they stopped for a break. After a few more minutes, we decided to leave them alone and move on.

It was an incredible way to kick off our next three days of safaris. I knew nothing would top that moment, but we still had some amazing sightings, which I will make a separate post about.

Essential Travel Information

Flights to South Africa: To get to Kruger National Park, you’ll fly to Johannesburg, which is a bit of a drive to the park (several hours). This is your best bet if you’re flying a major airliner, otherwise, you can fly to Kruger National Park. It’s a very small airport though and I believe only caters to either regional or charter flights. is a great tool for finding airfare that works for your dates, departure airport, and budget.

Lodging at Kruger National Park: We stayed at the Lion Sands Sabi Sand and I can’t recommend it enough. The price is a little steep, but it includes all of your meals, alcohol, and safaris. The property itself is also seriously amazing, and it may be one of my favorite hotels, ever.


  1. What an amazing experience. My friend Dave Patterson told me about it. You are very fortunate to have Lukas as your tracker. I had him twice while I was at Lion Sands. He is without a doubt one of the best trackers I have had, and that is saying something after 9 trips and over 20 trackers.