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South Africa J-Term Blog #4

Time to catch the sunrise!

Sunrise over Indian Ocean

We woke up bright and early to catch our first Indian Ocean sunrise before heading out to the estuary (a body of water that has rivers flowing into it and then it flows out to the ocean — don’t worry, I had to ask too!).

Students taking a boat to see exotic wildlife.

There, we boarded a boat that took us out to see hippos and crocodiles! Not-so-fun fact: hippos are one of the deadliest animals in the world — even deadlier than lions here in Africa. We didn’t get to spot many crocs, but after the boat ride, we boarded our bus and headed towards the Manyoni Private Game Reserve.


Private game reserves are super cool because, unlike public ones, they are privately held and can monitor their animal movement much better. This makes for some incredible game drives, just like our afternoon one! My group had the best tour guide ever — Bongani! He took us off-roading to find the “Big 5” animals, and on this particular drive, we saw impala, nyala, zebras, white rhinos, African savannah buffalo, giraffes, warthogs, and even a chameleon!

Sundowner in the Bush

We ended our drive with something called a “Sundowner in the Bush,” which is a tradition. It’s basically drinks and snacks at sunset right in the middle of the safari! It was so fun, and the stars were incredible. 

Our early morning game drive was a huge success, and we got to see eight (yes, eight!) lions in their natural habitat doing their thing.

Students see lions up close during a safari.

First, we saw a pride of six lions, mostly young males with their mom. They looked so majestic this early in the morning! Then, we spotted two fully-grown male lions that were feeding on a buffalo. Did someone say real-life “Lion King” circle-of-life action? Absolutely!

Students on a safari.

We stopped for a “Sunriser in the Bush,” I suppose you could call it, and enjoyed some coffee, hot chocolate, and tea before finishing the rest of the drive. We all loved Rhino River Lodge, where we stayed. We now head to our next private game reserve right down the road!

Elephants roam freely.

At this reserve, we enjoyed an afternoon game drive and finally got to see some elephants! While we only saw them from afar, but it was crazy to see something that we only normally see in zoos freely roam across the land. Beautiful, to say the least!

Rhino River Lodge

It was a long, long day, so after dinner and some great conversations, we all fell sound asleep to get ready for our next adventure.

— Morgan Tracy ’22

About the study tour

Service Learning in Communities — Nkume Primary School

Travel dates
May 23-June 6, 2022

Prof. Michele Hancock (education)
Prof. Jacqueline Easley (education)

This study abroad trip begins in a rural region of South Africa where our outreach work at Nkume Primary School continues. Students will have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of the students who attend the school through education, school maintenance projects, and planting new crops in the recently established vegetable garden.

The next part of our adventure takes us on an exhilarating safari experience to search for the Big Five (leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, and buffalo); a moment of solace in the ancient Drakensberg Mountains; and a journey along the Eastern Cape’s iconic Garden Route and complete the experience with a trip at one of South Africa’s most sought-after coastal towns. Learn more