Ben first visited South Africa back in 2001 to live and work in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and since then he has explored numerous corners of this remarkable country on multiple return trips to his all-time favourite destination.
Vast game reserves, stunning coastlines, beautiful vineyards and outstanding food all contribute to Ben's love of South Africa. He says, "Where else on earth could you view the Big Five at dawn, enjoy lunch overlooking whales on the coast, sit back for sundowners amongst the vines of a renowned winery and then tuck into a seven-course tasting menu in the shadow of one of the world's most famous mountains?"
Ben has significant experience of self-driving in South Africa, covering everything from the northern wilds of Madikwe on the Botswanan border to the striking Drakensberg mountain region and the legendary battlefields of Zululand. His passion for wildlife has also taken him to many of the country's best reserves in search of ever-more elusive sightings.
I'll never forget when…
Whilst on safari in the Sabi Sands Wildtuin (Greater Kruger National Park), I was lucky enough to witness an incredible sight.
A leopard in a tree is not uncommon in this area, but on closer inspection we discovered a very large male sitting in a bare tree that was far too small to provide adequate cover for it. Directly underneath the tree it emerged that there were three lionesses unhurriedly eating the leopard's recent impala kill, with the leopard looking positively embarrassed above. Eventually the lionesses had their fill and wandered off to relax under a neighbouring tree, leaving the leopard to carefully plan his escape route, and after several minutes of looking around he leapt with lightning speed down the tree and darted across the plains, pursued at pace by all three lionesses, before hot-footing up a new and improved tree in which to take proper shelter.
Predator interaction at its finest, this experience will stay with me for a long time.