Zulu Nyala, South Africa
Saturday Morning, September 9
Cathy picked up a cough in France that has made it hard for her to get much sleep since we arrived in Africa, so we decided to break from the group and skip the day trip to St. Lucia. Cathy didn't get to sleep until 5 am, so it was a big help to not have to be ready to leave the hotel at 7:00. Instead, we lounged around and spent some time looking at photos and trying to catch up on writing the log.
Saturday Afternoon, September 9
Marius was with the rest of the group in St. Lucia, so he arranged for us to go with Lucky for our afternoon safari. We were with two couples that had just arrived, so it was their first trip into the park. They got lucky, because the elephants were found just as we started our ride. The terrain was really rough and rocky, it was a little unnerving to be crashing through the brush and rocks with a ranger we didn't know, but Lucky got us to the elephants, and back out again. The elephants weren't as visible as our previous sighting, doing their thing nestled in amongst trees in terrain that wasn't drivable. One of the adult females did walk over and take a look at the vehicles. We were thinking we were in for another challenge, but she stopped about 10 or 20 yards away and just gave us a look.
The newbies were all excited to see an elephant up close, 20 yards away, and we just smiled at each other knowing it was possible for the elephants to get a lot closer.
On that ride, we also saw a journey of giraffes, about 12, which included a young giraffe that still had the umbilical cord dangling.
It was very fun to see the young giraffe. The whole group was unconcerned with the truck and just did their thing around us. It wasn't clear whether the adults were trying to get the youngster to practice running, or the youngster just took off, but suddenly they were all running around the field, with the adults running alongside the little one, everyone having a good gallop. It was like they were playing giraffe tag and we had a perfect view from the center of the playfield. It's impossible to capture that in a still photo, but here's one that shows a bunch of them in motion.
At the back of the giraffe group, we found a rhino family: adult male and female with a young male. We spent time parked a few yards from them watching them mow the grass. With a giraffe just off the edge of the photo, we got a great look at mom and junior:
Dad was nearby eating his dinner.
At one point, momma rhino was making some unhappy grunting noises which we thought meant she didn't like our company, but Cathy noticed she was actually keeping dad away from junior. They moved as a group, but mom didn't trust dad around junior.
Zebra are nearly as common as the nyala and impala. We see them everywhere, not just munching grass at the tent lodge. Here they are watching us.
Cathy got this nice photo of an especially large tree uprooted by an elephant.
Most of the animals tolerate the vehicle, but tend to walk away from it. This means we get lots of views of animal butts, which don't make for especially great photos. Here's a good shot of a cape buffalo that Cathy snapped before the group turned around to show us their rear view.
It was our first day in Africa with nothing really hair-raising happening. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
All photos ©2006 Tom and Cathy Saxton. All rights reserved.
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