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A South African Adventure

December 02, 2018 3 min read

A South African Adventure

By ioMerino Outsider Jodie

"It’s really hard to be stealthy when there is a thick carpet of dry, crunchy leaves under your feet. No matter how softly I placed my foot down, in the quiet early morning it sounded incredibly loud. A bit like when somebody is trying to open their choc top wrapper at the movies during the really quiet, suspenseful bit. The only other sound on this morning came from the creature I was stalking, who was tucking into its breakfast. Keeping my eyes on the patch of orange and brown skin just visible amongst the trees, I crept closer.


Suddenly a very long neck swung up and big eyes looked in my direction. I froze camera halfway to my face. But it was too late, it has spotted me. Busted! Given that it was more than twice my height I would expect it to be unconcerned by my presence, so I was a little surprised when the reaction to seeing me turned from shock to panic and resulted in the creature and its buddies ditching breakfast and making for the hills.




If you have ever experienced half a dozen giraffes – each weighing over a tonne – galloping headlong through the bush, you’ll know it makes quite a racket. With the ground shaking beneath my feet, all I could do was stand there wide-eyed as hooves thundered and branches snapped.


Did I do that?? Whoopsie!


This was Izintaba, a private game reserve in northern South Africa and I was here with my partner and his family (who are South African). This was our second time to Izintaba and I was excited to be back. It had proven to be the perfect place for our family getaway.


You can’t really go to South Africa without checking out some of their iconic wildlife. Izintaba has a stack-load of cool critters to admire. You’ve already met the giraffes. There are also zebras, jackals, monkeys, warthogs, wildebeest, about a million impala, and lots and lots of others.


Did you notice that I didn’t mention there were any lions, elephants, rhinos or crocodiles in Izintaba? Or anything else with big teeth or a bad temper. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Boring!! But before you start moaning about it, think about what it means for your freedom and independence. With no dangerous animals, you can wander around as much as you like without having to worry about being mauled or eaten. And that’s always a good thing.

Jodie is wearing the Keystone Running Tank


The property is two kilometres wide and six kilometres long, with about 40km of tracks to explore. You are free to wander about the property as much as you like, by car, mountain bike or foot. And it is pretty much guaranteed you will see animals every time you leave the lodge. It is quite special when you walk around a corner and there is a zebra in the middle of the track!


And if you are a runner??? Well O. M. G. You are gonna love it!!


I had a running event coming up so I needed to get some kilometres into my legs. This was actually the perfect place for it, particularly considering we were in South Africa. If we’d stayed at my mother-in-law’s place in Johannesburg I would have, unfortunately, felt quite unsafe running around the streets on my own. Quite ironic (and sad) that I felt safer running with these animals. So on 5 mornings out of the 7 we were there, I laced up and headed out the door to run the sandy paths and to scare an animal or two. Do you know how cool it is to lay your footprints alongside those of dozens of African animals?



The tracks were all sand, sometimes very soft, so the running was a little challenging. Plus the area was at around 1200 metres above sea level. Having lived all my life close to the sea, this made my breathing just that little bit harder. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!


When I wasn’t running, I was walking, eating, reading, taking a million photos or attempting to save another dung beetle from the amorous but sometimes indelicate clutches of the nieces. But what I will remember the most about Izintaba is running through the beautiful landscape, the only sound the soft swish of sand underfoot and the occasional grunt of a wildebeest. Add in the guaranteed sighting of several iconic African animals and you have a run to treasure forever."


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