Wednesday, July 30, 2008
O-M-G! Final safari day
Off for our morning drive at 6:30. It was Sunday so there were lots of private cars on the road, too – busy with traffic. We drove and drove and drove and saw hardly anything…not even the elephants. They had moved on to the wilderness. A few impala here, a giraffe there…nothing much. It was a very quiet ride. We then said good-bye to our European friends and had our final afternoon drive to ourselves. Shawn asked us what we wanted to see, and of course the answer was a leopard! Otherwise, just take us to a cool spot even if there are no animals, and we’ll just see what we see on the way. We drove past the elephants (only 5 or 6 – not enough for us anymore and not close enough to the road) and to a place where they are keeping some African wild dogs in captivity while they are preparing them to be released back into the wild. Apparently, the alpha female of the pack of dogs was killed by a lion, and the males started mating with their “daughters.” They needed to separate the pack and introduce new females into the pack. They’ll be reintroduced into the wild in September. Shawn then drove us up a mountain road to this incredible viewpoint. It was peaceful and quiet and you could see forever and we ended up watching the sun go down up there- beautiful. And then we heard a lion roar. You guessed it…off we went. We came down the mountain and started to go find the sound when our light caught some eyes in the road…a brown hyena she thought. It crossed the road, look at us again and she said…it’s a leopard! She pulled the vehicle forward, and I expected it to dart off into the grass but it kept on coming – slowly. It crossed the road right in front of us again and went into the brush next to the road. I though for sure it was gone then. But it turned and walked parallel to the road – about 10 yards off. We turned around and followed it for a ways and then it had to cross another road. We just sat and waited, and there it was again. Shawn said this is very unusual behavior because they are typically very shy and most people just get fleeting glimpses. It was stunning, and an incredibly beautiful animal. We were lucky enough to see all the big five on our trip plus a whole lot more (we even saw a flat backed chameleon asleep in a tree – it should have been in hibernation – who knows?) I have officially run out of superlatives for this trip.
I had previously mentioned that we had celebrated Kim’s birthday on this trip, and Shawn (who is also the manager of this place) said that for special occasions, they provide a private meal in our cottage. When we returned from our evening drive, we went back to our cottage and found a roaring fire and beautiful table set for us. The chef and waiter arrived to announce our dinner menu and take our main course orders. We had a lovely meal in our cottage that lasted almost two hours and Kim was ready to fall asleep in her dessert. The waiter came to take away our final dishes followed by someone bringing the hot water bottles to keep our toes warm. Divine!
So that was the safari trip - it exceeded my wildest hopes for the trip.