05 October 2008

Watching wild animals

For the last couple of years my birthday has been sadly neglected, but this year I followed Stuart to South Africa and he decided to treat me to a special trip: a weekend in a fancy game lodge looking at elephants and lions. As it turned out there were loads more animals to see than we expected, more on that later. From the private deck with views across the valley to the mosquito-netted bed to the massive bathtub decorated with flowers and candles, the lodge was out of this world. It’s a small place, only five huts grouped around a communal space where all the eating and meeting takes place, although it also has a pool and a little remote deck where you can watch the waterhole and see if anything comes to drink. The people wo run the place were incredibly friendly and helpful, arranging a private dinner for us on the first night inclusive of a massive pink birthday cake that we couldn’t do justice to, and a bottle of champagne. We got up every morning early (easily done when one is jet-lagged) to be taken on a game drive. The lodge owns an over-sized Landcruiser customised to allow everyone to see and stay out of the sun. There was much ribbing when the driver found out that we are Landrover fans, unfortunately the Landcruiser never got stuck so we had no opportunity to gloat. We also went out in the evening a few times, to watch the sunset on the veld (what they call the bush here). We saw an amazing range of animals, more than we thought possible: elephants, white rhino mothers and their calves, a lion, a leopard and a cheetah, giraffes, warthogs, wildebeest, various kinds of antelope (one of them dead, having been killed by the cheetah), zebras, baboons, and hippos (although of latter we mostly saw their ears, as they stay underwater to keep cool during the day). It was just incredible to see all these creatures so casually living their existence right next to us, mostly ignoring us as we pointed our binoculars at them. The giraffe was more concerned with keeping an eye on the cheetah stalking it, and the zebra with feeding its foal to be bothered by us. More photos on my flickrstream:

No comments:

Post a Comment