I've been boring you all with pictures and writing that has nothing to do with why we (and pretty much everyone else) visit Africa: to see wild animals on safari. After our trip in the 10-seater toy airplane (including two pilots) to Singita Boulders (which is amazing), we didn't even make it the 200 yards from the private airstrip to the lodge before we saw a tree full of baboons. At lunch on the deck we saw an elephant, crocodile, a mongoose family, and some antelope of some sort. I will never keep all the species straight. Monkeys ran around the restaurant stealing people's bread.
Young elephant by the Sand River, July 2017
Then we met our guide and group of two other couples and went for our first (of 18) game drives. You hop into a specially outfitted Land Rover with three rows of stadium seating, plus the diver/guide and a tracker sitting on a bench mounted on the front fender. Then you go off driving around the game preserve looking for stuff. I think we had an exceptionally productive afternoon.
Zebra looking at the sun, July 2017
To some extent, the drives are random: the guides and trackers won't always know where any specific animals are, but they know where they may like to hang out. They also communicate with other guides who are out and about regarding the more difficult animals to locate.
Pretty bird, July 2017
My experience with zebras (in the zoo) is that they always turn their butts towards you. This one didn't. He just looked west towards the sun, low in the sky.
Hippo in the water, July 2017
It turns out (who knew) that hippos spend much of their time mostly submerged because their thick skin gets sunburned.
Impala herd, July 2017
The only impala I had ever seen were the ones made by Chevrolet. When I was in sixth grade, my BFF's parent bought a 1963 Impala which had the first seat belts I ever saw in a car. I though it was the nicest car I had ever been in. Frankly, these were much more beautiful. And notice that there's one guy and his harem here.
Rhinoceros grazing in the grass, July 2017
We got right up to these rhinos. I mean, I could have spit and hit them. Not that I did. Although they are herbivores, they weigh upwards of 5,000 lbs. and have big horns. And they can move fast. Two of the rules on the games drives are:
1. Don't stand up. The animals seem to ignore the trucks and their passengers, but you can change that equation by creating a new shape by standing.
2. Don't get out of the truck, especially without the guide or tracker with you.
These drives are safe, but the animals are wild.
King of the jungle, July 2017
Mark, our guide got a call over the radio that a group of three lions, all brothers, had been spotted. The other guide gave him directions to where they were, which apparently weren't quite clear. We wound up missing a turn (the "roads" are just dirt tracks, and there are no signposts). We eventually found them, but they were just sleeping in tall grass and not really easy to see. Apparently, lions sleep a good part of each day. We wound up sitting for a good hour, waiting for them to do something. Anything. One of them did stick his head up for a bit and I got a few nice shots..
Dinner was blah, blah, blah. There was entertainment blah blah blah. (1)
But really, today was all about seeing a bunch of animals.
We will get a wake up call at 5:30am tomorrow, and meet in the main building for coffee before heading out on our morning drive.
(1) Singita and the staff are amazing. More later on that.