They say these are dangerous but I wasn't so impressed. Cath says that is because they were in the water and I was on land. I guess I just don't want to be between them and the water.
Lovely creatures to look at. Calm. We often saw them with Zebra. Apparently they have different strengths and can aid one another if needed.
Cath and I were driving between camps in our Volkswagen rental car when something ran across the road. Glowing red eyes watched us and then a flash of the most beautiful skinned, graceful creature ran in front of us. Of course my camera could not focus but I didn't hold that against Cathy. She still showed me Big Five. If you look carefully at the photo below, you can see red dots. That is the leopard staring back at me as we tried to position our car to take a closer look.
They say you usually have to go into the bush and track rhino by foot but we stumbled across these two very relaxed guys.
They would come drink from our watering hole every few days. Kinda cute really.
The monkey were all over camp. They are sneaky little things-- trying to break into the huts to steal food and toothpaste.
We saw two lovely lion cubs. For a number of nights in a row we could hear adult lions using the cloud cover to bounce their calls back and forth in the night. They were very close to our camp. We tracked them for a while and could see that they were tracking an old herd of buffalo for food. We found three eight month old male cubs right by camp. They apparently just know to sit and wait until their mom comes back with the food. It was cute to see them lounging in the sun and wrestling around. We took Emma, Cathy's little sis, back to see them. She roared at them a few times to let them know who was boss and then was ready to move onto more animal.
One full moon night we happened across a male jackal and turned off the Landrover to watch for a bit. It started calling out to a nearby female- and she answered with a similar sound. Back and forth they called trying to locate one another. Oooh, it was a sound that sent chills through you. Very high pitched and primal. Definetly something to fear if you were alone in the bush at night.
These beautiful, graceful creatures are everywhere. They've become accustomed to the Landrovers and only stop to look at us when we drive by. The first few days I was there I was like "oooh, Impala" but by the end we just drove right by them with hardly a notice. And... I did eat some Impala stew. I thought it was strange that they serve it on a reserve, but it was yum.
I was able to see a whole heard of these-- like 70 or so-- scoot on by Tanda Tula one afternoon. They make a most interesting squeaking sound.
Apparently these are the most dangerous animal in the bush. I was told that if I was caught outside the Landrover by any animal, to stay put... unless it was Buffalo, then to run like heck. They don't look so intimidating but I believed them.
These would swoop down at us while we ate dinner at night. They weren't too frightening though.
These guys were our African alarm clock. They tended to find refuge in the camp when the lion were near. That meant they would be bouncing on our straw roofs in the morning. Thud!
Actually, my first real animal experience was baboon. Cath and I stopped on the side of the road at a scenic overlook and came across an entire family of baboon. They were pretty much just chillin'. One male, two or three female, and a few babies. They babies were playing and wrestling around. Before we knew it, one of them hopped onto the car and was trying to open the door. Thank goodness Cath had just suggested locking the doors. If it had gotten into the car, I'm sure we'd of had some not so happy mommies. It gave Cath and I quite a startle and a great laugh.
My favorite animal. Elephants are a matriarchal society meaning the males only come around to mate and then leave. We did see two males at a watering hole, but most of our encounters were of various breeding herds. They are very large animals but so graceful. You don't hear them walking and they tend to sneak up on you. Literally. One day a few of us were out picking dried leaves for the wedding. I was the only one outside of the Landie when we heard a noise. I asked if it was Ele but another thought it may be Buff and another Lion. Sally instructed me to get in the landrover immediately. As we looked up from our task, we saw that a herd had surrounded us. Cath was a bit nervous as any escape route we had was blocked and you never can tell if the mothers are going to be protective that day. As it turns out, they were all calm as could be. We even had one of the baby ele's mock charge us. It started stamping its feet, waiving its nose, and flapping its ears. The cutest thing. At another elephant encounter our tracker actually called the mother ele over to the Landie. She tapped her head on the hood and reached out to him with her trunk. Absolutely amazing. A VERY rare event.
Puff Adder are one of the most poisonous snakes in Africa and we had one living outside our hut. Cath was taking pictures of some flowers when Mia yelled at her to move. I was in the shower and ran out to catch the action. Cath, crazy girl who apparently takes after her father, started stamping the ground near the snake to watch it puff up. Eventually the gardener came over and caught it. It's still up for debate whether he let it go or ate it for dinner that night. Either way, we watched the ground a little more closely when we ran through the grass by our hut.
Yes, I saw penguin... on the coast. They bray like a donkey. Strangest thing.
Yes, squirrel. I was lounging on a chair and suddenly a squirrel hops on me. I squealed and Cath pulled it off laughing at me. Yes, I was afraid of the squirrel- it kept jumping on me. How often have you seen a squirrel do that? Little did I know it was a tamed pet squirrel. Still. It was freaky.