Tuesday, December 08, 2009

South Africa, Day 5 (part 1)

The story so far:

An elephant at the watering hole trumpeted around 3am, extending my series of five-hour nights. I spent an hour writing and managed to shower before the morning safari, which probably made the safari experience better for everyone else. Plus, as the first stand-up shower in several days, it was a memorable experience for me, too.

The morning safari was shared with a young couple (she was at the lodge writing an article on wine and the wine tasting planned for the evening) and an older woman with a very interesting past as a physician and world traveler. This safari was heavy on the lions, as we spent some time up close and personal with the couple from the previous evening and some juveniles playing near us. There were elephants and zebra, wildebeest, dung beetles, and more. Again, the pictures tell the story better than words.

In each safari, we stopped at some point for drinks and snacks, and our guides Eugene and Lazarus set up a little table on the front of the jeep. It was nice to get a chance to walk around in the bush a bit and get the feel of the land. There was some worry about ticks, but bug repellent was always available.

The way that Etali runs the safaris, our guide (Eugene) drives the car and our tracker (Lazarus) sits on a chair bolted to the front of the jeep. Lazarus was actually born in the Madikwe area and knew all sorts of interesting things about the plants and animals. He also had amazing eyesight and was able to see animals and tracks long before the rest of us could. Eugene was an encyclopedia of interesting facts about the flora and fauna and made the safaris a terrific overall experience.

We returned from the safari in time for a big breakfast with one of the best omelets I ever ate. Thinking it must be close to noon, we agreed to meet back at 4pm after a short nap. Upon returning to the room, I discovered that it was only 9:30am. It’s amazing how much can be done before 9:30 in the morning when the day starts at 3. With all of the extra time, I spent some time soaking in the outdoor tub and enjoying the view and then I slept for at least 4 hours straight. I’m starting to get a little worried that I’ve turned into a cat.

The rest of the story:

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