We pulled the Land Rover up along side of the road to watch. A pair of African elephants was quietly feeding about 100 meters off and we were spellbound.
The roads were fairly clear in the reserve with only occasional traffic. But slowly, cars and vans began to gather around us sharing our treasure. And some even had the audacity to pull ahead of us, filling all the spaces along the road.
How does an elephant cross the road?? However -- and wherever -- he wants! And if some idiot has closed down the access, he better be ready to move fast!!
Our elephant strode into the roadway, flared his huge ears, raised his trunk and bellowed. Cars scattered!! It was an amazing show!! But as we were about to see, the show was just getting started.
We'd been in South Africa for a week now and just completed a comprehensive kite-tour of Cape Town. Early Monday, we'd flown Northeast to Durban and then connected by private bus to the wildlife reserves of Ubizane, St Lucia and Hluhluwe.
The elephants moved off and soon after the other cars were gone too. Our group of eight in the Land Rover sat smiling at what we had seen. Then the bushes to our left started to move.
A pair of very large Rhinosarus emerged from the brush and crossed ten meters in front of us. They waded into the short grass along the road hovering. We stared in silence, afraid to move or speak.
More brush noise -- a bit less forceful -- and then to our delight, a baby Rhino appeared. He ambled into the road and then turned to examine us. He pawed the asphalt, mockingly charged at us, and then turned and began to prance up and down the roadway. I think he wanted to play! Finally, one of the adults stepped in and guided him into the grass.
Traffic began to gather again behind us. One full Rover inched up for a closer look. That didn't go over well. The largest bull moved behind us and confronted the next car in line. He was scarcely ten feet away.
You can tell when a big Rhino is not happy. They snort, paw the ground, and lower their head to show you a very large horn. They curl their tail. Then they pee all over the roadway. Fast moving vehicles, piloted by slow-whitted tourists don't help. We moved out of the way -- taking with us memories to last a lifetime.
Our time spent at the Ubizane Game Reserve Lodge was magical. We roamed the huge reserves in open Rovers, took bush walks at dawn, and ate way, way too much.
Our accommodations were in private "tree-houses" which looked out into the forest. We closed up whenever we left to keep the monkeys out. At night, you could hear wildlife moving under and around you through the open windows. Huge nets protected you from the few insects. It was very, very quiet.
What did we see?? We saw everything!
Driving the 50 mile long Hluhluwe Reserve, we encountered Zebra, Giraffe, Water Buffalo, Wart Hogs, Impala, and Nyalla Antelope. Boating through the St Lucia windlife estuary, we saw crocodiles and hippos!
And of course, over the two week trip there was plenty more. We visited a cheetah reserve, chased deer from the treehouse, stepped over wart hogs, and dodged baboons. We attended a whale party where the big mammals frolicked just off shore, and moments after this last photo was taken, an ostrich attacked Kevin Sanders camera!
One of our favorite stops is Boulder Beach near Cape Town where there are now more than 3,000 African Penguins flourishing in their natural habitat.. You can wander down along the walkway and waddle right up to them. But be careful. They bite if you are dumb enough to stick your fingers in front of them!!
One last stop was a traditional Zulu Village. We were greeted with dancing, demonstrations of pottery, weapon, and tool construction, and other customs and traditions. Pretty cool to visit a place where the men offer you homemade beer and the single women are all topless....
It was more than appropriate for us to visit the Zulu. The next day we were headed for the historic battlefields of the Natal where the Colonials fought these native tribes. This was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to.
Tune in next week for part three of the South Africa Tour.
This is very important. The 'intellectually disabled' children supported by Cape Mental Health in Kyalisha live in unimaginable conditions. But with the help of the Association, they receive support, care and nutrition. Unfortunately, CMH has just lost one of the two buses they need to bring kids to the center each day.
What this means is that half the kids in need must be left at home. Their parents - usually a single parent - are forced to leave them alone while working. There are no other alternatives for transportation or special-needs care.
Our group was determined to help in some small way, and we invite you to be a part of this show of support from the kiting community. If you can send a small check to GKPI, or authorize a deduction from your credit card, we'll forward the donations. We want to gather as many small contributors as possible. I'm sure our collection will not pay for a bus. But it will show the broader support that exists for this important program and surely draw significant local matching funds. Thank you.
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