Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Lions and warthogs and elephants, OH MY!

Friday, September 2, 2016


We were picked up this morning in a Jeep with zipper walls at 5am by our guide, Theo. He drove us about an hour to the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Park. There are 96,000 sq hectares of safari land for the animals to roam.

It was absolutely beautiful! 

We drove around and quickly began to see the gorgeous animals of South Africa. Our first view was of lions (which can be hard to find in SA), we then saw a rhino, elephants, a giraffe, impala and wildebeast! It doesn't matter if you have seen elephants before or not, when you get close to them, they are the most remarkable animals in the world. They are giant, and yet the look so gentle and sweet with their big eyelashes and giant ears. Gentle giants. 

As we were driving around, our guide spotted a cheetah high up in a tree. We could not believe how he could have spotted it (no pun intended). He told us it is very rare to see a cheetah. There are so few of them, that the park also tracks the cheetah. This one was wearing a large tracking collar.
Can you find it?

This beautiful animal was astonishing to see and to watch. I could have stayed in that one spot for hours. We later went back to see the cheetah. We then went on to have a small breakfast in a large clearing. It was incredible to be out in the middle of a safari space and enjoy some hot tea, fruit and muffins. 

Our guide also told us that there are many torn up trees throughout the grounds because elephants will pull up the trees and suck on the roots for the water they hold.

We then continued on our safari journey. We got to see some zebras. I love this picture of the beautiful trees behind this stunning zebra. What an experience!!

As we continued to drive, we met up with my old friends, the warthogs!! Did you know that warthogs sleep, rest and hide in holes when afraid? They line the holes with grass to make them warmer. Although they can dig holes, they normally use the holes dug by other animals.  

We saw many other interesting faces, including baboons and kudo. We also got to see one of the best yield signs I've ever seen!

 This is Andy, our Program Manager and his partner who we called "Klompie" or 'Me. We had a great time driving around for the day, seeing all of the animals and learning about them.

We were totally blown away by the size of the rhinos. This is a photo of a mother and baby. It's hard to think that something that large can still be cute, but really, all baby animals are!

We returned to see the cheetah again, and she had moved down from the top of the hill. It took some time for me to spot her, but our guide saw her immediately again. We also got to see a large buffalo!

Before leaving for the day, we had the opportunity to see another elephant up close. I was so thrilled to get to be so close to this giant animal!

We had a great day at the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Safari Park. Thank you so much to our guide Theo, for finding so many animals on our trek. We have been told that seeing cats in South African can be a challenge, and we were graced with both lions and a cheetah. We had a great experience!

We were then driven back to the hotel for the rest of our sunny day. I took a walk downtown and met some very talented people in the market.

 I purchased several wooden items and unique gifts, including a small table from the vendors at the market. Many of these items will be on sale in our silent auction at the World AIDS Day Gala on Saturday, December 3rd. For tickets to the Gala, you can visit HERE!

Around 3pm we made our way to the dock where we would continue our safari journey, on a crocodile and hippo pontoon boat tour. Before we heading out, there was a young gentleman who was carving what he called "monkey apples". He dug out all of the fruit, carved the skin and made these hanging balls which could hold a tea light or bird seed. We purchased two of them and made our way down to the dock, where we waited for our boat into the water filled with hippos and crocs!

 To be continued...


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