Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

Playing Around

Country: South Africa 
Location: KwaZulu-Natal
Reserve:  Phinda Game Reserve
Camp:  Phinda Vlei Lodge


Playing Around

This picture shows one adult female, the nursery leader, and 4 juveniles left in her care, elegantly galloping  through the dry winter grasses and almost leafless trees. During the first few days a newborn giraffe will be left sitting in grasses while the mother goes off to feed, but after a few weeks the youngster is introduced to the rest of the herd and nursery groups are formed where one mother will keep watch while the others have a chance to go and find food. This nursery group put on quite a show, burning off their excess energy, simply running around for 15-20 minutes. Very tough to get a stable photo platform.  At a gallop the giraffe can reach speeds of 35 miles an hour over short distances and cruise comfortably at 10 miles an hour over long distances.

This picture was taken at Phinda Private Game Reserve.  Cradled between the arms of the Lebombo Mountains to the west, and the azure sweep of the Indian Ocean to the east, the 60,000 acre Phinda Private Game Reserve is situated in Maputaland, one of Africa's most ecologically diverse regions, with an extraordinary range of ecosystems and wildlife. In 1991, Phinda undertook the biggest game relocation in a private reserve in the world at the time, restoring what has now grown to a total of 60,000 acres of degraded farmland to pristine wilderness.

Phinda lies adjacent to the 'Greater St-Lucia Wetland Park' - a UNESCO World Heritage Site by virtue of its diversity and scenic wonder - and incorporates no fewer than seven distinct eco-systems that can be explored. The reserve is dominated by open broad-leaved woodlands, acacia-bushveld, and palmveld-grass savannah, with a very high carrying capacity for Africa's large mammals.  Mountains, wetlands, freshwater lakes, and the Indian Ocean coastline all bring their own distinct habitats and diverse species of animals, birds, and plant-life. Phinda has possibly the best cheetah viewing anywhere.

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