I went on safari and all you got were these photos. We took P’s family to Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and isiMangaliso for safari, and we went deep sea fishing on the Indian ocean. We caught 7 Yellowfin tuna, and we’ve been eating it in all kinds of ways (mostly raw) since then. I continue to be floored by the flora and fauna we come across in South Africa’s national parks. We saw lions but my lens wasn’t powerful enough for a good shot. Maybe, next year it will be! Also, I made you a little stop motion video of a couple mama rhinos and their babies. Enjoy!
Thanks to Freedom Day and Worker’s Day and Generous Bridge Day From Work we had a 5 day weekend, so we headed to the Midlands in KZN with friends. The weekend was full of boating, beering, eating (fresh, made-from-scratch pelmeni! aloo gobi! potjies! to name a few), and game playing. Seriously, there was a game of musical chairs after dinner one night and it’s hard to get more fun than that. It’s fall and in KZN it seemed exactly like a New England fall, with leaves changing brilliantly on the trees. Life is exceedingly difficult in South Africa.
We went on safari in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in South Africa. We started at dawn and drove around the Imfolozi section of the park, which is located on King Shaka kaSenzangakhona’s (the most famous of the Zulu kings) hunting grounds. We didn’t see any of the big cats but we had another magical moment, this time with elephants.
We spotted a herd of elephants moving through the bush. Our guide drove us around because he saw them heading to cross the road. We waited and then almost out of no where, first one and then about 50 elephants appeared. In front and in back of our vehicle giant mother elephants and babies surrounded us. Some of the mothers trumpeted their horns, warning us not to get any closer. Through we were in a rather large vehicle (a bakkie kitted out with safari seats) I’ve never felt smaller. We were literally surrounded with fifty+ 3 ton+ elephants on on all sides. If they feel you are threatening their babies they will attack- we have friends whose car fills with water when it rains because an elephant tried to crush it.
Before we knew it they had crossed the road and disappeared into the bush, leaving us in wonder how a group of animals who individually weigh several tons could appear invisible after walking a few feet into the green.
We were enamored with the larger game, but our guide informed us the wild dogs we saw are a rare sight as he goes years without seeing them, because they are on the brink of extinction. As you can see if you look closely, one of them is collared so that they be studied by conservationists. Although the warthogs were plenty and thus a relatively boring sight, that was probably my best picture because I was able to get so close.
I wonder if Safari Guide is the career path I should have chosen.
After a long day at the beach in St. Lucia we decided to take the Clio on a drive in iSimangaliso Wetland Reserve. It is a World Heritage Sight and where they brought back one species of the rhino from extinction, though they still rest perilously on the brink. The demand for rhino horns in several Asian countries makes it difficult to protect them from poachers. As an aside, did you know that the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in 2010? Sigh.
We drove through, catching sight of several of the regular things- zebras, wildebeests, and even some Cape Buffalo. We drove onto a little side road and while going past a giant bush we discovered a mother rhino and her baby. It was a magical moment. Had we seen the rhinos from afar we would never have driven so close but because they were obscured by the bush we all sat in silent wonder, about 10 feet away from these giant creatures staring and taking them in. After we got a hold of ourselves we moved to sit in the open windows of the car, snapping photos and pinching ourselves, then drove on. We turned the car around in a little slip and when we drove back we passed them again, the baby got a fright and made a run for its mother and we knew it was time to step on the gas.
Over our days in the bush there were several times when we felt the awesome power of a mother animal with her baby. You feel keenly aware of your size, the size of your vehicle and the size of the animal who is 2 or 3x’s your car, even when when you are in a safari jeep. Mothers, whether they were elephants, hippos or rhinos made a show of strength and warning by baring their teeth, trumpeting their trunks or simply by keeping her giant eye on you the entire time. If we didn’t move to South Africa I probably would have gone on safari once or twice in my 40′s or 50′s and for that I am thankful.