Cheetahs on the Hunt in Welgevonden Game Reserve

Over the recent long weekend I spent two days at Mhondoro Safari Lodge in the Welgevonden Game Reserve, which is in the Waterberg region of Limpopo. This trip amazed me in several ways, the first of which was how close Welgevonden is to Joburg (about two-and-a-half hours), and the second of which was how luxurious and fantastic Mhondoro is. It’s definitely one of the top three nicest (if not the nicest) safari lodges I’ve ever been to.

The third most amazing thing about Welgevonden was, of course, the animals.

Male lion in the grass at Welgevonden Game Reserve
Lion in the grass at Welgevonden Game Reserve.

I’ll have a lot more to say about Mhondoro in my next post. But I don’t want my cheetah hunt story to get lost in the shuffle of that post so I’m telling it here.

I have been a travel writer in Africa for nearly a decade and during that time I have participated in dozens, if not hundreds, of game drives and bush walks and other wildlife viewing experiences. But the Holy Grail of wildlife viewing — watching big cats on a hunt — eluded me until my trip to Welgevonden.

Cheetahs on the Hunt in Welgevonden

Spoiler alert: I didn’t see anything kill anything else. (I’m not sure that’s something I want to see anyway, as I imagine I’d feel very distressed. But Circle of Life and all that.) I did, however, see a family of cheetahs racing across the plains in pursuit of a herd of blesbok. It was the closest I’ve seen to a live Sir David Attenborough documentary.

Mother cheetah and cubs
This mother cheetah (center) has four eight-month-old cubs, two of which are visible here. We’d already been watching this family all morning — earlier the cubs were on high alert as their mother left them to chase away the male lion pictured in the image above. Note the mother’s thousand-yard stare: She’s looking out over the bushveld at a hapless herd of blesbok in the distance.
Mom has zeroed in.
Mama cheetah running
There she goes.
Cheetah on the plain
Not pictured here: A herd of giraffe watching curiously from the side, a couple of ostriches striding off to get out of the way, and three of four jackals circling around hoping to swipe a few bites of the cheetahs’ eventual kill. It felt like a scene in The Lion King. My eyes aren’t as good as a cheetah’s so I never saw the blesbok.
Cheetah cubs on the hunt
The cubs chase after their mom. These cub are already weaned and need to start learning to hunt themselves.

And that was it. Our guide later told us the cheetahs caught and devoured their blesbok but no one (at least no humans) saw it happen because it was too far from the road.

We had several more great sightings during our visit to Mhondoro — stay tuned for the next post.

My visit to Mhondoro was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.

Also I’m doing Pinterest now. If you like this post, please save the image below.

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13 Comments

  • Reply stargazer076 June 25, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Incredible photography! I’ve never seen a kill either but I must have arrived at the scene of one just moments after it happened. Mother Nature at work. One can only marvel.

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2019 at 9:08 am

      There are so many different crazy things to see on a game drive. I once saw a herd of wild dogs eating an elephant carcass in Botswana. Also not a kill but still insane!

  • Reply IHUNANYA June 25, 2019 at 11:05 am

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  • Reply AutumnAshbough June 25, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    That is so cool. I’m surprised the comparatively little Mama Cheetah was able to drive off the large lion, though.

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      Well I think if the lion really wanted to kill her he would. (Although cheetahs aren’t actual lion prey — apparently lions just occasionally kill cheetahs for sport, or maybe for territorial reasons.) She was just doing her best to discourage him from coming near her cubs. It was so interesting watching the cubs — they were on high alert watching her off in the distance while also trying to stay halfway hidden just in case.

      • Reply AutumnAshbough June 25, 2019 at 10:14 pm

        I guess he’d have to catch her first. And she’d lead him far, far away from the cubs in the process.

  • Reply catherine June 26, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    thank you for the beautiful pictures! and how are your two cheetahs, the Melville cat and the Midget? it’s been a while….

    • Reply 2summers June 27, 2019 at 7:01 am

      They’re good! You’re right they need to post.

  • Reply Lani June 27, 2019 at 5:29 am

    Cheetahs are so beautiful. I’m sure it was pure magic to see them up close…and she’s off to conquer these Pintersts lands – ahoy!

    • Reply 2summers June 27, 2019 at 7:00 am

      Hahaha. Undecided on Pinterest 😂

  • Reply Kal June 27, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Wow! It must have been a great sight but I am not sure I have it in me to see the kill (even-though I am a true crime fan). I love how unusual your posts are. I know I am always in for a treat whenever I check your blog 💛

    • Reply 2summers June 27, 2019 at 7:52 am

      Aw, thanks so much Kal!

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