SOUTH AFRICA: An Independent Review Spear Safaris

swantrip

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Well, I have just returned home to rural South Australia. What a trip. I have been a long way from home for the last month.

My journey started in late 2015, my favorite aunt unexpectedly died and bequeathed me nearly enough money for an African plains game safari. The old girl liked an adventure, so I thought why not! Cash was tight, but I was sure I could arrange something with the right outfitter.

I spoke with by best mate and hunting buddy Dan, an accomplished bow hunter. We set our hunt dates in stone and started planning the trip of both our lifetimes, chasing blood in the dust on the dark continent.

I started looking for the right outfitter to hunt with. Being individuals, I knew a standard package would not suit Dan and I. AH was a huge resource which pointed me in the direction of several highly regarded outfitters.

I sent emails, introducing myself and started sifting through the replies. One reply stood out, from Ernest Dyason at Spear Safaris in Gravelotte, northern Limpopo region of South Africa.

I read Ernest's mission statement on the Spear Safari's website and received a good feeling about his temperament and the standard of his operation.

After exchanging emails with Ernest and his amazing wife Marita; I telephoned them and we spoke for over an hour. Just like that, the hunt was set.

Dan, his lovely partner Jess and I then flew to RSA.

Transfers out of Johannesburg (Tambo) were by Mark Johnson of Emerald Transfers and Tours. Mark was an utter professional and very friendly. I thoroughly recommend his services if you are undecided about a transfer out of Joburg. He helped me out immensely after issues with my airline.

On arriving at Spear Safaris camp after midnight, I was met at the front gate by my skinner/tracker Johnny and into the wild we went. I was then met at the door of the lodge by Ernest and he escorted to my room.

My first views of the camp were spectacular - even at night. A very classy establishment consisting of a lodge and 5 huts. The grounds were lush with manicured lawns and a swimming pool - all secured by high wooden fencing which gave security and a rustic feel. I watched as fire flickered through the wall of the boma and shadow dance on the buffalo skulls that littered the ground - I was in love with Africa.

My hut, the warthog hut (very funny Ernest) - was beyond any expectations. Plaster lined brick walls with a high thatch roof. My room boasted its own bathroom / toilet, double queen beds, air conditioner + tea and coffee facilities. It was finished with tasteful and traditional African decor.

Every morning, my clothes were washed and ironed by Gladys and chocolates were placed on the pillow of my crisply made bed. Temba, the site foreman was always working on something around the camp, keeping the place running like clockwork.

All staff at Spear Safaris were beyond reproach. They were helpful, trustworthy and always cheerful. Cecilia was the best camp cook I have ever heard of. The wild venisons served were a treat to behold along with desserts that could make anyone swoon.

The hunting on ground was spectacular. I hunted 10 days with Ernest and our skinner / tracker Johnny. Dan and Jess hunted with a second PH - Koos and their skinner / tracker Chengeta.

Not knowing what to expect of Africa - I was told pickings were very slim due to the worst drought in an age. There was still plenty of game around.

The drought had really knocked the animal numbers around, with some species being completely off of the market such as burchell's zebra. Wildebeest were in poor condition, however still huntable with some big bulls around.

There were plenty of elephant, giraffe and buffalo on the properties along with all of the big 5 excluding rhino. Leopard were also prolific but I did not see any. Most typical African antelope and gazelle species were prolific on the properties hunted, and we could really take our time to select the right animals. I was fortunate enough to come across African Wild Dog and Spotted Hyena on the property also, taking some amazing video.

Dan and I took several species each including kudu, waterbuck, impala, warthog, bushbuck and steenbuck. The warthog had suffered from the drought, so we hunted a third concession with better pigs. All hunting properties were set up with blinds - both elevated and ground. Dan shot all but 1 of his animals via spot and stalk, so this is also possible for bow hunters.

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Hunting with a rifle was mainly by spot and stalk out of Toyota Landcruiser utes. The trucks were in fantastic condition, near new and well suited to their task. I used the Spear Safari's client rifle, a Howa 300WM fitted with a Zeiss Terra in 4-12 x 40. It performed faultlessly. Ammo was PPU 180gn in 300WM.

Ernest and Marita also looked after Jess and my wife by arranging Mark, a friend of theirs and a dealer in precious gems to attend the camp. With no pressure - Mark showed us some spectacular stones. I purchased my wife a Tanzanite along with some Transvaal jade. Jess purchased herself the same.

After the hunt, and being pampered for 11 days - it was back to the delights of Johannesburg for a week.

I stayed at an excellent establishment - AfricaSky Guest House not too far from the airport for the entire week. I could not do a lot of touring around RSA, I had run out of cash! A familiar story with African hunters no doubt - I had shot too many animals! I was very well catered for.

I met up with a fellow hunter - Brandon from Utah who was beginning his safari from AfricaSky - and we had a great time together for a few days. We toured locally in Joburg visiting the SAB Brewery, Safari Outdoors, Zimbi Guns and Books, along with various bars and steak houses. Brandon moved off to Mozambique to successfully hunt buffalo.

All up, I spent 11 days with Spear Safaris including a guided tour of Kruger National Park. I could not sing their praises higher. Their service is warm and second to none. I witnessed first hand why Ernest Dyason is respected in the hunting community around the world.

I am in the process of negotiating a second safari with the guys from Spear - but where do I want to go with them? RSA, Mozambique, Tanzania, Burkina Faso..... the list goes on!

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cpr0312

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Welcome! Thanks for sharing, please share some pics with your report when you get a chance also
 

CAustin

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Welcome to AH sir!
 

Nyati

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Welcome to AH, and congrats for a successful hunt.
 

Redruff

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Great report. Thanks for sharing and welcome to a great community.

R.
 

edward

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my wife and i have hunted with ernest three different times,his operation is the best.
 

johnnyblues

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Great report, everyone seems to give high praises for him and his operation.
 

enysse

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Congrats, I have many great things about Spear Safaris too!
 

Bullthrower338

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Welcome to AH and thanks for the report.
 

Spear Safaris

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Swantrip, here are the two Male lions that we never managed to see. They killed this wildebeest at one of the feeding stations during this horrible drought that we just experienced. Had some great rain and everything has bomb shelled, Elephants are still causing havoc though.
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Spear Safaris

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Some more pics from your trip with us, hope you don't mind.

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swantrip

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swantrip

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Sorry I've been away from my computer a few days guys, got a few more pics of the hunt for you! Nice kudu, measured just over 50", very happy with him. Not too sure on the measurements of the warthog but he looks great. Long red mane - looks like a mullet haircut Billy-Ray Cyrus style! The veranda (porch) at the camp is spectacular and very comfortable. It was where we had the morning coffee, RV, relaxed and shared lots of laughs.

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edward

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your dog has gotten big ernest,glad to see its still with you.
 

AB2506

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I've met Ernest a few times when he visited Calgary. I would trust him implicitly.
 

dory

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Good on you mate !
What a neat aunty you had .
:D
 

BRICKBURN

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Good use of an inheritance.
Congrats on your success.
Thanks for sharing your adventure.
 

Spear Safaris

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Our first Cameroon safari for the season. So far so good, Hunting has been hard due to better than average rains and the burn is very late. Hope the next few Safaris go down OK.
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