September 27, 2006
More News from South Africa

Our guide stopped talking in mid-sentence and pressed a hand against his earpiece. Then he turned back to us and smiled. "The lions are moving down along the fence line", he said.

The sun was setting over African hills as our open Land Rover roared down the bumpy pathway. We powered across a muddy swamp, spinning tires as we went, and turned up a narrow clearing when we reach the fence. The vehicle then slowed to a stop and we stared ahead into the darkness. A few meters ahead, a lioness walked into the headlights.

There were four in the pride -- two males and two females. One by one, they walked through the lights and past us close enough to touch. We held our breath in awe and a bit of fear. I wondered how quickly the car could restart and move if needed...

Safari Bound!

A moment later, the lions had vanished again into the dark. I turned to Susie and saw tears of joy streaming down her cheeks.

We'd come to the Kareiga Game Reserve following the festival in Cape Town. This 15,000 acre sanctuary boasted lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino, hippo, hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, a variety of antelope, and a myriad of bird species. Private 'chalets" were perched along the hilltop and from the main restaurant, you cold look down across the open plain and see amazing animals grazing.

Park Driving Park Driving Park Driving Park Driving

Each day we set off on 3-4 hour game-viewing drives. The hill roads were bumpy and narrow to the point of exciting. And below, the open pastures allowed us to drive in close for viewing. The park was divided by electric fences into two areas -- a safer zone merely populated by Rino and Hippo -- and a second park with sterner warnings at the gate.

Wildlife Drives Wildlife Drives Wildlife Drives
Wildlife Drives Wildlife Drives Wildlife Drives
Wildlife Drives Wildlife Drives Wildlife Drives

One night we parked in a small valley and let a herd of thirteen elephant graze around us. Then we headed for the highest hilltop to celebrate with a "sundowner" glass of wine. Buy the end of the drive, the sky was filled with stars and the Southern Cross was leading us back to our beds.

Elephant Encounter Elephant Encounter Elephant Encounter

On another afternoon, we rode horses across the fields, through the woods, and down the sand dunes to a deserted beach. My 'steed" and I argued most of the trip to see who was in charge. I pulled on the reigns and she bumped me into a few trees. We both got home safe so I'll call the contest a draw. But that cool hat got knocked off by a low branch.

Riding Excursion Riding Excursion Riding Excursion

Across South Africa, we visited gardens, rode boats, climbed mountains (by tramcar, of course), shopped in local markets and upscale malls, danced to traditional music, and ate great food until we were ready to burst. Each day was an exciting and new adventure.

Africa Tour Africa Tour Africa Tour

South Africa has become one of our favorite destinations.. The country is alive with good people working hard to overcome huge challenges. And it is a remarkably beautiful place. e.

This was our third visit and we brought one of the largest groups we've ever led.

We originally went to Cape Town to fly kites but grew committed to the Cape Mental Health cause. We hope to remain a small part of that effort. And of course, we made friends that we are anxious to see again.

We're anxious to see the lions again too...

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