The Affordable Safari; Your African Dream Hunt, Part III

Amazing Gemsbok with horns over 36″.

Read Part One: The Affordable Safari; Your African Dream Hunt, Part I

Read Part TWO: The Affordable Safari; Your African Dream Hunt, Part I

So far in the Africa Dream Hunt Series, we have covered the details of what it takes to get there, gear selection and preparation, and the costs of the Marupa Safaris package and airfare. Now we will look at the facilities, upgrading the hunting package, what else there is to see, and the trip home for you and your trophies. 

Marupa has some huge Gemsbok.

With the basic 3 animal package completed and hunting days remaining, it only made sense to add on a trophy – gemsbok (or two). I had already considered this option before leaving the states and the only real choice was whether it would be a gemsbok or a kudu that I decided to go after.

Marupa Safari’s Lodge

The pool stayed amazingly cool for day temps in the ’80s, lots of glass in the lodge to let in the scenery.

The Kimberly area lodge is Marupa’s newest facility and was just completed this year. It is an outstanding property that includes a common lodge with a kitchen, dining room, lounge, large patio, small pool, and a large outdoor fire pit area we frequently gathered around in the evening.

Morning guest outside our room.

There are 3 duplex style houses for the guests and PH’s to stay in while on the farm. Each half of the house is set up for 2 guests, for a total of 8 hunters and 4 PH’s. The rooms are very nice with sliding glass doors providing great views of the surrounding area.

Rooms were clean, comfortable and glass fronts let the world in.

There are no fences separating the lodge area from the surrounding hunting grounds, so it is common to see a variety of animals near the lodge or even right outside your room. It’s totally awesome to wake up, go outside, and the first thing you see in the morning is a Waterbuck cruising by in the brush on its way to the waterhole.

But, this is South Africa, you are in the bush regardless of the lovely accommodations and everything here wants to survive and has evolved to meet that goal. The trees have thorns and the animals have hoofs to run away or fangs, claws, and stingers to defend themselves. A couple of scorpions were killed near the lodge during the trip so be sure to keep your door closed and your shoes inside. 

The common area of the lodge made for a great evening to spend with the group.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a delicious dessert were served each day by the lodge chef, Felix. We had an assortment of entrees during the week that included springbuck, cape buffalo, and sable. Farm to table takes on a whole new meaning in the bush of Africa.

Several of the dinners were cooked at the outside grill next to the fire pit while everyone enjoyed beverages and recanting the hunts of the day.

Upgrading 

Looking at the range of game and pricing while planning the trip, I had all but decided I would add an additional hunt and go for a gemsbok. After being on the property for a couple of days it was evident that Marupa had some great looking gemsbok to choose from. A fun fact is that it is the females that have the longest horns while the males are thicker but shorter, so I was looking for a big female.

My PH did a great job putting me on this great female Gemsbok.

Upgrading to a gemsbok was going to cost me an additional $1500, but that was still much cheaper than the $2900 a kudu would have cost me. Everyone on the trip added additional game to the basic package. The group as a whole took a wide variety of animals.

The two returning customers who put the trip together had already harvested the animals of the basic package on previous trips and were after much bigger game. They both bagged large cape buffaloes to add to their trophy rooms in addition to some smaller species.

Visit Marupa’s website for the current pricing and available animals.

Precious foliage protects itself from being eaten.

The Additional Hunt

Hunt #4 – Gemsbok- The gemsbok hunt started like most of the rest with the PH driving to an area he knew to have good-sized animals. It didn’t take long until we spotted a few animals and found a pair, one of which had a great set of horns. The PH was in the back of the Cruiser with me while a couple of others drove the vehicle.

We weren’t able to get close enough for a shot; the pair kept moving away from us and joined into a small herd of 20-30 animals. We continued to follow trying not to push them too hard as we didn’t want the herd all spooked and jittery.

This went on for quite a while but finally, they headed into a corner area of the property so the possible routes away from us narrowed greatly. We dismounted the vehicle and started working in the direction we believed the herd would use to exit the area. The driver continued on to keep from spooking the animals and hopefully discourage them from taking the perpendicular route of escape.

We finally caught a glimpse of the herd moving in the brush about 900 yards away; they were exactly where the PH had expected them to be. We were about 200 yards off of a low fence line that the large fast antelope could easily jump or go through, but we were hoping they would just come down the fence line instead, as we worked into position.

They started moving our way but were a couple of hundred yards off the fence line just like us. We took up a position with a stand of trees and small brush between us and the approaching herd. The herd kept changing course as it advanced and we couldn’t be sure if they were going to pass to the left or right of our position. 

We moved cautiously changing location behind our cover several times trying to get the shooting sticks set up for the anticipated shot. The herd was moving slowly in our direction and stopped just beyond 200+ yards away, centered out in front of our cover that was too dense to shoot through.

Dolf set up the sticks at the right edge of our cover and scanned the herd. He found a female with a great set of horns, though we aren’t sure it was the original we began following, but who cares. Like on the previous stalks, we talked back and forth making sure I was on the right animal and when it presented a clear shot he gave the direction to “take it.”

I was firing standing, resting the rifle on the shooting sticks, and was fairly stable as the shot broke.  “You missed,” Dolf quietly shouted. It hadn’t felt like a bad trigger break, it wasn’t near as far as some of my other shots had been, and this was a bigger animal. “NO Way,” was my reply as the herd scattered. My mind was racing as he reiterated I had. 

Then the shooter in me started thinking, and I quickly looked down to ensure my adjustable elevation turret was still set at the proper spot, it was. Then I grabbed the scope and twisted it trying to determine if all the air travel and rough roads in the back of a Land Cruiser had knocked something loose, nope it was still rock solid atop the rifle.

All this time Dolf was doing what a good PH does and found another animal with a nice set of horns that was moving around to our left to get past our position. We quickly got me on the right animal, repositioned the shooting sticks, and I was back on the trigger. 

This time the beautiful animal went down, as it got back up, I placed the second shot much better, having noticed that the wind I had completely ignored in the chaos had pushed my bullet out of my desired target zone.

As we went to get a closer look at those long slender horns, the LC tooted the horn in the distance off to our right. The herd had evaporated but there stood a lone female with great horns; “You didn’t miss,” Dolf sighed. Hunts don’t always go exactly as planned. We went over to finish the original trophy both somewhat confused and saddened.

In retrospect, we realized that the wind was much stronger than I held for and at the distance, it completely carried away the usual “Thwack” sound you hear of the bullet striking the animal. The wind had pushed the bullet out of the kill zone and to the credit of the large female, her only reaction was to bolt with the rest of the herd, so Dolf assumed I missed.

Everything didn’t go exactly as planned but the results were incredible.

Typically, if you shoot and wound something that isn’t found, or shoot something the PH hasn’t told you too, then you’ve bought that animal. In this case, I did exactly as told and didn’t miss or let anything get away. So, Pieter (the owner), Dolf (PH) and I had a discussion and Pieter let me buy the additional trophy at a very reasonable price as I certainly didn’t want it to go to waste. 

During the discussion, Dolf, being the true professional he is, said he would pay for the animal, but my missed wind hold on the first shot was certainly partly to blame for him calling it a miss and I wanted the huge animal so it was going home with me.

Sights to See

The question is more like what didn’t we see? There was game everywhere and it seems we saw everything from the tiny steenbok up to the behemoth elands (2000 lbs). The lofty giraffes we saw looked down on everything but amazingly would disappear in the background with just a few steps and turns.

Speeding zebra and curved horned sables were no match though for the cuteness of the 2-week-old lion cubs we played with at the Lion Refuge. The refuge had 58 lions from the two-week olds up to some 20+ years old. I happily would have paid again to exit if I knew the money would go to the care and feeding of those animals.

This little guy was the cutest part of the trip; his larger relatives were the most intimidating.

In addition to the hunting trips, Marupa can arrange trips to Cape Town Wine Country, Krueger National Park, and a variety of other destinations. We toured the Big Hole in Kimberley which was the site of the area’s largest diamond find/ mine – very impressive.

The diamonds in the vault and the historical timeline of Kimberley was worth seeing

Returning Home

Leaving the Jo’burg airport for the trip home is fairly academic. You check-in as normal, get your boarding pass, check your luggage, and declare your firearm in your case. You accompany them as they take your firearm case to the Firearms/ Weapon Check-in Office. Here you open the case and present the permit you got upon arrival. The officer quickly checks it and you lock the case and he takes it to the plane.

Time to get the guns back out of the country and on the way home

Upon arrival in the US, you pass through Passport Control which is uneventful other than waiting in the inevitable line that will be there (length depending on airport and day/ time). Then, very similar to the process in SA, you retrieve your checked bag from baggage claim and move to the oversized baggage area where all the firearms are collected in an office. 

Eagerly waiting to get my gun case through customs and back on the domestic flight home.

A couple of passengers at a time are brought in and a CBP officer will have you open the case and present your passport and CBP 4457. They will verify the serial number of the firearm. Then they do some voodoo stuff on their computer and another officer sprays your hunting boots to make sure you’re not bringing back any bad germs or bugs. 

After a small group is completed, they escort you from the baggage area to go recheck the bags for another flight or go to the ground transportation area. 

Trophy Processing

Unfortunately, you don’t get to take all the spoils of the trip home with you right away. All the trophies you hunt have to stay in SA for at least 90 days. Marupa takes care of all the preparation of your animals; the skinning, salting, treating for parasites, quarantine, vet certificates, packaging, crating and arranging transport to an Exporter in Jo’burg.

The cost for all these services depends on what you are bringing back and how big the crate is; this is not billed until it is completed and ready for transport. The Exporter will contact you via email to coordinate import with your Import Broker or help line one up with you. This service is typically handled by a firm such as Cooper Smith.

Sad to say goodbye to the Dark Continent, but I will be back.

Then your trophies catch a long flight as you did but end up in Customs with your Broker working the crate through the process. Once your crate clears Customs, pickup or delivery is arranged to bring the crate to you and then it’s time to put the taxidermist to work.

This process can take 6 months or longer depending on the season, Customs volume, etc and costs vary depending on the size and weight of the crate. My animals haven’t gotten that far along so I can’t say exactly what this part will cost but it will be worth it to have them as reminders of my incredible hunting trip halfway around the world.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is it was an amazing trip. The service, facilities, staff, food, professional hunters, animals, weather, and just the overall welcoming and accommodating attitude of everyone associated with Marupa Safaris was fantastic. 

No matter how big they are they disappear in the brush in the blink of an eye.

Financially the Affordable African Dream Hunt for me breaks down like this:

$1200 Airfare (I used points to drop this from $2000)

$1000 Basic 3 animal Marupa Package (Typically $1500 7 days hunting)

$130 Pre-Approved Import Permit

$1500 Additional gemsbok hunt

$300 Souvenirs

$600 Tips (PH, skinners, house staff, chef)

$4730 – For an amazing Bucket List Dream Hunting trip. The trip was a fantastic experience and an incredible value even when compared to travel within the US. You can see if I hadn’t added the gemsbok the price would have been within almost everyone’s budget to save up for. 

The memories and experience will last a lifetime and looking at the trophies will take me back in the years to come.

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About the author: Jeff Cramblit is a world-class competitive shooter having won medals at both the 2012 IPSC World Shotgun Championship in Hungary and more recently the 2017 IPSC World Rifle Championship in Russia. He is passionate about shooting sports and the outdoors. He has followed that passion for over 30 years, hunting and competing in practical pistol, 3gun, precision rifle and sporting clays matches. Jeff is intimately familiar with the shooting industry – competitor, instructor, RO, range master, match director. Among his training credits include NRA Instructor, AR-15 armorer, FBI Rifle Instructor, and Officer Low Light Survival Instructor. As a sponsored shooter, Jeff has represented notable industry names such as: Benelli, 5.11 Tactical, Bushnell, Blackhawk, DoubleStar, and Hornady. He has been featured on several of Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery episodes and on a Downrange TV series. Jeff’s current endeavors cover a broad spectrum and he can be found anywhere from local matches helping and encouraging new shooters as they develop their own love of the sport, to the dove field with his friends, a charity sporting clays shoot, backpack hunting public land in Montana, or the winners podium of a major championship.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Steven Lewis June 15, 2020, 1:05 pm

    How many of those animals did you wound/fail to dispatch cleanly with that 45-70? Seems like most of your shots were beyond the range you’d imposed. How much better would that 6.5 PRC would have been?

  • Daniel Jordan April 14, 2020, 4:10 pm

    I’ve hunted with Marupa twice.
    Pieter and Dolf are amazing.
    The quality and variety of the game is outstanding.
    The accommodations are very good!
    This is an adventure and hunt you will never regret, the staff takes care of your
    every need.
    While no African hunt is comparable to hunting whitetail in your back yard for pricing. The value cannot be matched anywhere in North America, Europe , New Zealand etc.
    Do yourself a favor a book we these fine people!

  • Lamar Turner April 7, 2020, 8:14 pm

    Grest story telling, seems like I was on the hunt with you. I don’t think you left anything out.

  • TOM BROLLINI April 7, 2020, 8:59 am

    What about the costs of the trophy’s? Bet that adds a bunch.

  • Dr Motown April 7, 2020, 8:18 am

    Tack on another $2500+ for taxidermy/shipping costs, so plan at least $8-10k for a “budget” safari

  • david rice April 7, 2020, 7:57 am

    great material.

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