A Spitting Cobra Attack and the BIG FIVE: Welcome to South Africa


I remember thinking to myself “Dude, did this bitch really just spit on me? Or is it starting to raining?” These thoughts were quickly followed by “Gosh, it looks like a cobra!?” …And then I was running….

Yes, it’s kind of true what the others said the next morning: I’m kind of like Snow White, except no cute birds or friendly mice.  Just wolves and snakes. Super!

lens flare Big five south africa

But let’s start from the beginning.

I had a farm in Africa. Uhm, nope, wrong movie.

To go on safari has always been a dream of me. And then I’m sitting there in an open safari vehicle with the wind destroying my hair and then suddenly, there’s a giraffe! Just like that, the giraffe was looking at us. Looking and looking. It waits until everyone has the perfect picture and then she walks away. I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe it.

giraffe Big five south africa

We’re at the Kapama Private Game Reserve. 13.000 hectare of pure nature. REAL wildlife. And in the middle of all this: four lodges. And us. In an open vehicle. I ask our ranger Kim if I can drive, she smiles. I can’t. Four times we’re going on safari. Twice in the evening and twice in the early early morning. And are already on the way from the airport to our lodge and we see the first of the BIG FIVE. A buffalo.

buffalo Big five south africa

The next one is a lion. And I nearly wet my pants. Just 5min earlier I was standing outside the vehicle, just about 20m away from a lion and I didn’t know it. Kim said it would be ok. And now there’s a lion. Yawning. (Yes, he looks dangerous on the pic, but he really was just yawning). And I just realise HOW CLOSE we come to the animals. I always thought when you’re on a safari the animals will be in a safe distance of at least 20m. How wrong I was. I could touch the lion if I wanted to. But I’m not allowed to.

lion 1 Big five south africa

lion Big five south africa

And while his queen is sleeping close by we drive on. Past millions wart hogs, one of the UGLY FIVE. I like that. And zebras. I like that too.

wart hog Big five south africa

zebra Big five south africa

And the night falls in Africa. And it gets late. Then I’m on the way to my room. My room is on the ground-floor. And while I’m walking on the veranda I see it. Oh, a snake. Lying on this old tree stump right next to my door. Maybe I can sneak past? We’re in Africa, snakes are a normal thing here, right? I get closer. All of a sudden the bitch is spitting on me. And that felt weird, especially as this bitch really looked like a cobra. Uhm, better leave this place. Quickly. “There’s a spitting snake in front of my door!” The ranger is starring at me with wide eyes. “A cobra?”. How should I know? I know cobras only from TV. He’s taking a pole and snake-holding-thing and walks to my room. The snake is gone. What exactly was it? Was it really a cobra? Do cobras spit on people? He nods. And asks me, where I felt it. Actually I just felt it on my hands. I need to wash them. As long as it didn’t get into my eyes everything is fine. Uhm, WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED?? IS THIS POISON?? He nods. The spitting cobra spits to defend itself. Normally directly into the eyes of a predator, which could make you blind. When she’s hunting, she will bite. Like cobras normally do. With poison. And suddenly I don’t feel good at all. And even now, like days after, I just feel sick just by the thought of it. That was close.

rhinos Big five south africa

During the next days I realise how big and different this world is. We always try to control everything, make plans, write to do lists. And in the end everything will be different. Coincidence, Fate, Karma, Luck. Life is doing what it wants. And all we can do it to trust everything will be fine. And that life gives us moments like this, when two young rhinos were crossing our path. And you hold your breath and have no idea what to do, because it’s so overwhelming. You want to stand up, leave the vehicle, go to the rhinos and give them a hug. Because they are so beautiful and because there are so many people hunting them. Killing them. And you want to tell them: Go, go away. Hide yourself. And in the same time you’re just happy that you can see something that beautiful.

leopard 1 Big five south africa

I feel kind of the same when we finally see a leopard. I feel uncomfortable. Two vehicles are following him. Circle him. For ages. He walks in one direction, another vehicle shows up. He turns around. He doesn’t look angry, but kind of annoyed. I ask Kim, if we can leave. She says it’s ok. If he really would be annoyed she would notice it. But I don’t feel good with this. Sure, I also want a stunning picture of him and look at him and be happy, that he’s there. But in the same time I feel sorry for him. Sure, he has a good life here in the Private Game Reserve, there are no hunters. And if he’s lucky there are also no poachers. But still. I’m conflicted. Yes, safari tourists don’t kill animals. But still. They do kind of “shoot” them. Click. And while being in a safari vehicle some tourists do get wild when it comes down to the best view and picture.

elephant Big five south africa

We were very lucky to see all BIG FIVE in between three days. Elephant, leopard, rhino, lion and buffalo. And I’m very happy about this. And I do want to do it again. But next time kind of differently. I’m not sure yet how. Maybe without a camera. Maybe accompany a ranger during his training. I want to know more about it. So much more.

sunset Big five south africa

Upcoming South Africa post:

Why don’t animals get drunk when they eat the Marula fruit and what this has to do with Amarula?


Disclaimer: I was invited on this trip by Amarula.

Have you been on a safari? How did you feel about it?

Hi, I'm Yvonne. Travel addict. Guilty as charged. Right now I'm probably falling off a camel somewhere in a desert, getting a new tattoo from a monk in Thailand or am carrying my luggage through a river in the jungle. But just as well I could be sitting on my sofa in Berlin, in my pyjamas. Good girls to to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. Everywhere sounds much more promising. So be travelous and follow me!

Discussion26 Comments

  1. Love your post about the trip! so entertaining!
    i feel like a sissy screaming my heart out when there was a monkey in our shower licking the head daring me if i still wanted to use it. also love the UGLY FIVE — hyenas included? especially after they have eaten with their waayyyy bloated tummy is well, gross.

    • Yvonne

      haha, omg, a MONKEY?? In your shower??? 😀 I would have screamed my heart out too 😀
      and yes, hyenas are ugly, omg!

  2. OH I LOVE THIS. Everything from the Out of Africa reference to the Ugly Five. And now I want to leave for SA tomorrow… but alas, I have to wait another 3 weeks…

    I love your honesty about safari travel and a feeling of crowding the leopard. I’ve been a bit nervous about that in planning our upcoming trip, especially because we are going over the Easter holiday when there are going to be lots of people. I’m glad that you asked the guide to leave and we’ll be planning to do the same. Thanks for the lovely post!

    • Yvonne

      OH you’re gonna have so much fun!! Enjoy and if you’re feeling uncomfortable just tell the guide, they know what they’re doing. Keep my fingers crossed for you to see the BIG FIVE! 😀

    • Yvonne

      It really was an amazing trip! South Africa is a beautiful country and I definitely have to go back soon, because there’s so much more to see and do!

  3. Great great post!! The snake encounter sounds scary! Good thing you noticed it before you got too close. And as much as I think it is invasive for us to try to get close to the animals to take pictures, I think its a necessary evil because without all the tourism dollars saying “we want these animals alive to take pictures of” there would A LOT less of them being protected

  4. That was close! Phew!

    I got a small bite by a big snake in Thailand 3 weeks ago!

    Thankfully it was not a poisonous one. It makes you realize how Europe is so safe (or boring?) lol.


    • Yvonne

      wow, I would have freaked out! Thank god it wasn’t a poisonous one!!! Lucky you!! (and lucky me) 😀

  5. What a amazing adventure! And such a close call with that cobra. Good thing your eyes weren’t closer to him!! I feel sort of conflicted, too, about nature and humans. I don’t think all animals should live so closely to humans. We don’t always know the best way to react around them and they survive on instinct, which can be a deadly combination. Yet, the idea of seeing them in their natural habitat is intriguing.

    Oh, and Amarula…what a teaser. That’s some good stuff 😉 Can’t wait to read more!!

  6. Thanks for this amusing first-timer’s view of safari. I live in Africa and have been ‘on safari’ hundreds of times since I was a child of about 8 and I’ve forgotten just how awesome but intimidating it can be, so thanks for reminding me!

  7. Oh wow, just wow! Can´t believe I´ll see things like this in two months, that is awesome! Lucky me I´m not that afraid of snakes, more frogs.. Ugh


  8. oh wow…eine Cobra-Attacke überlebt? Das kann nicht jeder von sich behaupten… Chapeau! Und noch einmal „Chapeau“ für die tollen Bilder. Für solch einmalige Begegnungen mit den Big und auch Ugly Five nimmt man doch so eine Cobra-Attacke mal in Kauf, oder? 😉

Leave A Reply

Web Analytics