In the Bush

As you can see, some photos of our safari last week in the Western Cape. Rafe took better pics with a real camera but I wanted to share these for now and, before I forget, write down some highlights. It was a crazy few days!

• We slept for two nights in our own little thatched-roof lodge in the bush. When our nice safari guide helped us into our room I immediately freaked out: there was a huge cockroach flying over the bed. HUGE! COCKROACH! FLYING! He simply caught it with HIS BARE HANDS and tossed it out the door NBD. 

Early the first day, we saw a just-born wildebeest take its first steps. Wildebeests aren’t exactly the cutest animals but newborns! Always cute.

• We were very nearly charged by a rhino. We learned you can tell a rhino is pissed when it startspraying its pee everywhere. You don’t want to be near a rhino when its in this mood. The jeep wheels spun in the mud a little too long for my comfort before we were able to back far, far way.

• We ate our meals in a “lapa” along with the other guests. Theo was enthralled with all the decorative torches and singing songs with the other safari guides around a fire. 

On one ride, an elephant walked over to our open-air jeep and poked his trunk (and tusks!) right into the vehicle. He was sniffing around for snacks. We accidentally left some fruit and crackers in our day bag. Thankfully, Theo was not regarded as snack food.

On another ride, we came across an elephant carcass that was half bones and half skin and guts. It had died of natural causes months before and was just laying there near the road in a semi-petrified state. It was a rather gruesome and bizarre sight to behold. Not sure I’ll get that image out of my mind anytime soon!

• The biggest highlight was probably the night safari that occurred WAY past Theo’s normal bedtime. He was out of his mind excited and was so proud to “help” with his little red lantern. Our guide drove us around deep into the bush to see what we could find. We found lions! They were just sitting there, roaring at other lions way in the distance we couldn’t see. They didn’t care at at all that we were mere feet from them. We were no more than 4 feet away. These particular lions aren’t intimidated by (or hungry for) people. They just do not give a hoot. Their mighty roars were so loud they vibrated our entire bodies. It was awesome, in the truest sense of the word. 

• On the final morning, our safari guide (imagine Steve Irwin but South African) was set to take us to the airport. We were surprised when he picked us up with his two young boys in the van, too. Since we had hours to kill before our flight back to Cape Town, he suggested we all make a day of it in the nearby town of Port Elizabeth. We ended up at Funky Frogs, an indoor play space in a random mall close the airport. His said his kids were homeschooled and didn’t have much interaction with other children so he was keen on having the kids all play together. Unfortunately, Theo was exhausted and our day of playtime was cut short. The whole thing was pretty awkward, also in part because the guide would not shut up about his various insane conspiracy theories.

We learned just how serious poaching is here. On one ride, our guide kept looking up at a helicopter flying in the distance. He said he was worried that they were poachers casing the reserve. Already two of their rhinos were recently attacked and had their horns partially sawed off.

• Theo knows a ton of random animal facts! He can talk your ear off about the difference between crocodiles and alligators, why rhinos are killed for their horns, and how dung beetles lay their eggs. I’d like to say this is due to the many educational books we read him, but it’s really thanks to this PBS Kids show called WildKratts (he’s obsessed with it).

• I’ll personally never forget the night safari and just the feeling of the breeze in our hair, snuggled up with each other under wool blankets as our guide drove across the bush. We were often the only guests in the jeep so it felt very private. Just our little family in the wild (well, and the guide, of course. And the animals.)

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