I am so excited. I climb into the four-wheel safari truck and settle into the first row next to Sandy. We get a brief introduction from our guides and slowly set off. We’re not fifty feet outside the camp area when we start to see wild Africa. It’s four o’clock, the sun is starting to set, there is soft light, and white fluffy clouds set against dark gray thunder clouds billowing in the distance.
It is still the rainy season, so we were warned that we wouldn’t see as much as usual. The likelihood that we would see elephants was slim to none.
We’re only 100 yards outside the camp when the driver pulls us up next to two warthogs. They look up at us, uninterested, and continue grazing. One turns around to show us his cute little butt. The other has a long beard. All I can think of is the Lion King and I have the line “for I was a young warthog…” in my head the whole rest of the day.
We also see lots and lots of impala. Big impala, small impala… female , male, baby, big antlers, no antlers, curious, bemused, hungry, camera-shy, camera-hogs… you get the picture.
Our driver continues on and stops to show us a falcon. He is so excited he gets out his Birds of Southern Africa book and shows us the picture of it. He is also really excited about a few trees. While I am loving all of this, I’m starting to think that warthogs, impala, and giant trees are going to be the highlights.
We rumble along a little while longer. We see… more impala. Our guide gets out and shows us a pile of elephant dung. He is very excited – breaks it open, gives it a good smell… decides that they were here about three days ago. “But where are they NOW?” I want to whine.
Very soon after this, our guide pulls us into a small grassy field. As we drive, impalas and baboons scatter – the baboons dive up the nearest tree and watch us. The guide pointed out two sable antelopes a few hundred feet away. They are so beautiful and rare – they have layers of mocha brown colors and long elegant antlers.
We soon pull up behind the other safari vehicle. As they pull away, our guide pulls up and shows us a herd of water buffalo (one of the Africa big five!)hanging out in the distance. We can barely see them but through the zoom of our cameras, we get a glimpse. When the other safari vehicle is safely out of sight, our guide peels off the path and we bounce across the terrain towards the buffalo. We park a safe distance away, but close enough that we get amazing pictures! He later told us that he broke the rules to get us that close, so no one tell on him!
We drive on and suddenly someone calls out “there’s a zebra!” We slow down and there are actually three zebra! zebras? What is the plural of zebra? They were maybe my favorite. They are so cute… they watched us a little while and then scattered, scampering across the path in front of us.
The drive continued, taking us to the bank of the river for our sundowner – typically a gin and tonic, but we have beer. There are thunderstorms all around – lightening illuminating the far side of the river.
By the time we get in the truck for our drive back, it is pitch black. One of our guides perches on the hood of the vehicle and shines his bright light back and forth, looking for wildlife. We see several hippos out of water, including a baby!
So, while we started slowly, we had an amazing three hour drive and saw so much more than we thought we would. We were sure that that would be the highlight of the trip…but then we went on the boat safari…