Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Safari Expedition

After a quick lunch of selected cold meat, bread, cheese and wine, we met at the lobby for our first Safari expedition exactly at 3pm. 

We were instructed to take either a jumper or fleece with us and avoid any bright colours. The guide explained quickly, bright colours attracted bugs and unwanted attention from the wild animals, (an instruction I vowed to obey).

About 5 minutes into our adventure we came across a herd of Buffaloes with a pride of Lions a few yards away from them. The guide made reference to the pride of  Lions been the one they found around the lodge the previous night. He stated they made a kill the night before, hence their disinterested manner towards the Bufallo.
The Lions were just basking in the sun and paid no attention to the Buffaloes. We stopped for what turned out to be an hour in the midst of the buffaloes, watching them cross and others just grazing. 

This was rather surreal as I watched their huge horns and the potential injury they could inflict if they charged ; and here we are 'bang' in the middle of them. I watched carefully as I tried to plan an escape route 'just in case'. I quickly realised there was no escaping these buffaloes and I had to face the fact that my life was in the guide's hand. 

We were 3 couples on the trip including my favourite American couple (domiciled in Singapore), a quick glance at them and their laughter, (I guess the lost look on my face) made me relax a bit. My husband squeezed my shoulders in a re-assuring way which helped a lot.
Naturally we took loads of pictures, capturing the Lion cubs playing with the Lionesses (such tender moments to behold). 

We drove closer to the pride of Lions and it was rather exciting, watching these feared ,wild hunters of the forest, sunbathing, resting on their backs and licking themselves clean just like my pet cat 'Suki'.
We then drove for an hour  looking for more of the big five (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo)

We almost gave up and out of the blue saw a lone elephant. The elephant was huge but looked irritated by our presence. I just stared at the elephant and was engrossed with it's size (my first experience of seeing an elephant) , I heard the guide in the background with his story of explaining the history of this lone elephant and how it got kicked out of it's pride. 

We drove further for 15 minutes and saw another pride of Lions. The pride looked hungry and they were yawning and stretching, (managed to capture a perfect picture). I extended my neck in the direction of the Lion's to see what they were staring at, and lo and behold I saw a Gazelle and it's calf. I prayed swiftly and quietly for both animals to be safe. 
The guide kept driving till we came to a hill across a pond (the pond where all animals came to for a drink) where he stopped, laid a perfect bar and asked what we would love to drink. I muttered 'Gin and Tonic' (my favourite drink for any hot weather) thinking that would be impossible , however the guide said 'Not a problem' , took everyone's order, opened the side storage of the van, produced a portable table, served our drinks, brought out a few  'nibbles' as we watched the sunset with the animals drinking the water at the pond. I preferred to stay in the Jeep and keep a safe distance, however I was coerced into submission to join the group with the 'safety in numbers' jargon, I had no choice but to join them. 

The guide looked at his watch and decided it was time to get back. The guide drove with skill though the rough road ,  with bugs flying about (one had to shut their mouth , else a flying bug landed warmly on their  tongue). 
The guide then advised , we had another Safari trip at 5am the next morning, just as we approached the lodge. 

We arrived at the lodge a little late but in time for dinner, exchanged pleasantries with new guests, cheered with glass filled wine, clashing gently and sat down to a 3 course dinner. 
We all sat down for dinner reminiscing on the days adventure and various means of transport people used in getting to the lodge (another story). 

We were ready at 5am after a cup of tea for our early morning Safari trip. I made sure I had a scarf to cover my hair and sunglasses to protect my eyes from the flying bugs, especially when driving through the woods. Sadly we had to say goodbye to one of the couples and at the same time welcome another couple. We drove for almost 2 hours with no success and then suddenly out of no where, the guide saw a Leopard on the tree. 

The guide radioed his colleagues to advise of his find. The leopard came down from the tree and then picked it's meal ( an antelope ) and hurriedly went back to the tree. ( I can only presume his 'catch' fell off the tree earlier). The guide stressed how difficult it was to locate Leopards as they generally like to be on their own and are territorial. We sat there for what seemed like ages, whilst the other guides arrived with their guest. 

We left the other guides and drove for another 20 minutes to a hill with the view of the landscape. The guide made us tea and brought with him freshly baked cupcakes . The hill was infested with Lizards, (that were all too familiar for my liking). They got very close for the crumbs the 'new couple' were purposefully feeding them and fighting amongst themselves for a bigger share . We then headed back to the lodge for our breakfast.

The expedition of a Safari is one filled with unexpectedness as we suddenly saw a dazzle of  Zebra's. This was a defining moment for me as I saw the Zebra's in a mystical way. They were beautiful and I was mesmerised, Woah! 

The guide was explaining the behaviours of the Zebras as they kept a respectful distance from us and the bleating noise the Alfa male was made. 

We drove further for 10 minutes and came across a parade of Elephants. We had to stop and watch these beautiful and equally dangerous Elephants. The guide advised an Elephant only charged if you're in their way, hence why we stopped to allow them to cross. The Elephants took their time and one came so close I was petrified and stopped recording. They walked past our jeep with every heart beat felt in my body pounding and the  sigh of relief when they walked past. (Another one for the memory bank). 


Generally there were 2 expeditions each day (one in the morning and the other late in the afternoon) and twice a week there was a walking Safari trip, one which I politely declined to do. 
We stopped for breakfast in the wilderness and by the lake in the evening, watching the sunset with our favourite drinks. We came across the Giraffe we saw on our first day gnawing on some leaves and naturally took some more pictures. 
We continued each day to find all the big five, however we failed to see a Rhino on our trip ( we found out on the day we were leaving they located one a few km away). 
On one of our trips, we saw an eagle grab a snake and fly to a nearby tree and eating it alive. Eew! 

One evening, when we got back from our expedition,  we were invited to an African night dinner which turned out to be amazing. 
The dinner was in a compound decorated to an African story telling time setting, with linen table cloths, African printed cloths folded neatly and left on our chairs, lanterns and the roaring fire in the middle. 
Dinner was a buffet of Bufallo sausages, Impala stew, rice, potatoes etc and it was a great laugh. 

 On our last day of our expedition we were joined by a mother and daughter. The guide advised the pair on the various security measures, emphasising they shouldn't stand up as the animals might see it as a threat and may charge or attack us. One can imagine how the mother was shoved to sit back down when she decided to straighten her skirt when we were in the midst of Lions trying to hunt a calf (buffalo) down.  

Our last dinner was rather romantic and a classy affair. We all shared our Safari stories and  pictures, (It turned out, the other group saw a Rhino), others were travelling across Africa following the migration of the animals. We promised to keep in touch with our 'American' friends as we headed to the third and concluding part of our trip, 'Mauritius'. 

I personally think everyone should experience a Safari expedition at least once. It's an experience I'll forever hold to my heart. 

All photos are by the owner of this blog.