Seeing the sights first hand
23.03.2008 19 °C
An adventurers’ dream! Days filled with open windows, sweet smells of the native vegetation, and the hunt for the illusive wild African animals. I couldn’t help myself but smile as we climbed into the buckie (pick-up truck) every morning and afternoon thinking of the possibility…the possibility to see a Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Hippo, Baboon, Giraffe, or any other animal that I had been drooling over in the animal books. It was better than any casino that I have ever gone to; I think I am addicted to the African experience. I feel like I won the jackpot every time I seen one of the illusive animals.
Let me tell you what it feels like. All the hairs on your head stand straight up with excitement. Your eyes irraticically search for an ear, a tail, a horn, a hove, something…something that resembles one of the native animals. And There, just up ahead you see…you see….another Impala. Somewhat disappointed, since it is your seventeenth one for the day, yet you reassure yourself that there is more to come. It becomes like a game, a race to see the animal first before your safari companions. I found myself acting as if I were one of the first pioneers to adventure across the hilly landscape seeing animals that I have never seen before…and pointing out to others so they can see the same sights, as if seeing the animal gives you right to have ownership and extended knowledge. After your fist sighting and snapshots of a magnificent beast , you feel as if you just accomplished something …. by just by getting the first glimpse, the first photo of this remarkable animal. But then if the animal does not “cooperate”, and gives you their best view, their butts you feel defeated….but then again…. who knows what will be just behind the bushes beyond the bend.
We were lucky enough to observe a mother Rhino and her baby graze through the bush. They were shy at first, but soon became the highlight of our day. The mother waded behind the baby as if nurture him as he tries out new skills that she had just taught him. The baby determined which direction they would travel…and searched for the best greens. The mother kept a close eye on us and continually listened for anything out of the ordinary. It was better than any nature show with some Aussie commentating on their movement. I have always been one to respect nature, but after that 20 minute intimate look at the rhino and her baby in their native setting you can see why it is so important to invest time and money into their conservation. We had several close encounters with the Rhinos. The second time we came across them , a tourist pushed their limits and got too close to the baby and the rhino gave them a little scare and warned them to get away before she would run over them. They quickly reversed and got out of their way. We seen Wildebeest, Springbuck, Warthogs, many birds, giraffes, and some beaver looking like animals; our rarest sightings were that of a Servet cat and a brown Hyena. The servet cat was walking on the road and we only seen it for a short bit, but it was a magnificent sight. It looks like a miniature cheetah/tiger. It has both strips and spots. It was the size of a large house cat, but with viciousness of a Siberian tiger….I wanted to pick it up…but the Olivers advised me if I wanted to survive the trip to stay in the vehicle We had to watch the brown hyena from afar through the binoculars. Even though it is an ugly animal, it was still remarkable to watch. From what I could tell by using my informal-biologist degree by watching Discovery channel, I think it was marking its territory and checking for trespassers. It was a single hyena a walked with such a pace on a path that you could tell it had a purpose.
The Pilenceburg National Park is known for their volume of Elephants…and you would think they would be abundant….but we did not see a one. We joked that they took the holiday weekend off and went on vacation. We only spotted foot prints and what we thought were elephants but turned out to be large dead trees. But if I seen everything this time, what would be the purpose of returning….right?
I have included some photos of the animals and sights that I have seen along my first safari experience. I knew after 10 minutes after being in Africa that I am going to come back. I have been getting suggestions on where to take my next safari.