Day 17 Londolozi – South Africa day 3
This mornings bush drive was another private one. Just us and Jules and Eckson. We are getting a service by accident that some people pay a super premium for. Another couple shows up this afternoon though, so that is all over and was brilliant while it lasted. The sunrise over the bush was again dramatic. There was mist off in the distance. We saw another large pack of elephants and their babies just after sunrise. They were eating which is about all they do. We saw the smallest elephant so far. It was not any bigger than Charlie, weighed more I’m sure, but not much bigger in size. We saw one of the lionesses this morning that we saw the other day. Today she was in charge of all five of the cubs and you could see and hear her annoyance at the situation. Apparently the other lioness was off shopping? The cubs were beyond adorable. I find it hard to believe they would not want or let me give them a good shooka shooka under the chin. We saw our first groups of monkeys today, baboons to be exact. There were a couple large groups gathered around a couple different big trees. They were either playing, or fighting, or raping, we were not sure. There was definitely at least one of each activity that happened while we watched them. The most impressive thing so far was the way the baboons scaled a tree. It was an absolute spectacle to see. They could go from ground level to 100 feet in the air in about five seconds.
Around the middle of the drive we crested a hill with a big valley then a rise to the top of the other side of the trail. The roadway was narrow and well tree lined. At the top of the other side of the valley we all saw a rhino at the same time. Then the rhino saw us. The rhino started running down the trail toward us. A second went by, no biggie, still coming. Another second it was much closer but still far away. Another second later Wifey opens her mouth with a bit of a panic and blurts out something unintelligible. Still charging, and fast. Then Jules throws the land rover in reverse and I could tell that he too had a real concern. At no point was I ever scared or panic. I was invested, thrilled, excited…for the life experience we were having, but fear never entered my mind. I guess my jaded life of “everything is a work” had me think that this was a set up and it happens all the time. Or maybe it was two guys in a rhino suit that Jules radioed ahead to, and they were part of the ride. Neither of those hypotheses are true, it was a rhino charging at our land rover. The actual amount of time was just long enough for me to take the lens cap off my camera, snap one shot, switch it to high speed shutter when I realized he was charging, and shoot off about another 5 or 6 which included the rhino skidding to a complete halt and creating a dust storm like a cartoon character. He never actually got too close, but it would have only taken another 3 seconds to get to us at the pace he was charging. During the aftermath Jules explained that was the first time a rhino has ever charged him. I found that hard to believe, but he insists it is true, you never know what is around the corner in the bush. Eckson never left the front spotter seat, which to me says there was no real danger. Speaking of Eckson, he gives me another indication of why this must be the greatest activity a human can participate. After twenty years on the job at Londolozi as a spotter/guide he still carries a camera and takes photos. A picture of Eckson taking pictures speaks a million words of how unbelievable this experience must be. It is a good thing Eckson and I were there to keep Jules and Wifey safe. The day we almost lost half our safari group if it was not for Eckson and Jimmy.
After the morning drive and breakfast we got cleaned up and then massages. One of the best massages I have had. On top of that it was outside on our deck with the sounds of nature all around. When the massages were over and we sat up, there was a pack of at least ten elephants only about 100 feet away in our “yard”.
Tonight’s game drive was great. We had company for the first time in two days. A couple from LA arrived today. They are traveling Africa for six weeks! We saw our first buffalo tonight. There were a handful of them around but we really never got close or great angles for any length of time. We have officially seen all of the big five game now. I hope we see buffalos better before we leave. They are an odd looking creature. The horns they have on their heads are unlike any other set of horns/antlers I have seen. It looks like some dumb hairdo toupee is glued to their skull. Either that or an awful middle school haircut parted in the middle and slicked down. Or maybe a Rollie Fingers mustache. They should be ashamed. We saw some giraffe bones the other day that Jules told us was from a kill nine months ago. Tonight he stopped at those bones and reconstructed the giraffe neck. It was quite disturbing and brilliant at the same time. We all had a nice chuckle. We saw a bunch more elephants tonight. A few were grazing on the right hand side of the jeep. Out of nowhere one decided to punk Wifey. That elephant mean mugged the crap out of Wifey, enough to make her jump up from her seat and let out a little squeal of some kind. Later, another was really close to the land rover eating a tree. We sat and watched her for while. All of a sudden she decided she did not like us there observing her and calmly made her way closer to the vehicle. Jules noticed this and started up the land rover. She then fell in behind him driving away slowly and started running. Not for too long, but long enough to give some of the sissier people a scare. Two elephant run-ins in one night?! Maybe they are not as cute and cuddly as Dumbo wants me to believe. So now a rhino and elephants have charged us at. Will the fun ever stop here at Londolozi?
When we got back this evening there was another surprise. Tonight they had a big outdoor dinner in the burma area for us, the new couple, Jules, and Kristie. It was amazing. Completely decked out with lanterns, fire pits, gorgeous outdoor bar, and cooking area. The food was tremendous. We had a lot of fun, good conversation, and a lot of laughs. Before desert the Londolozi ladies choir put on an African singing and dancing show for us. I got to use the phrase “you are snotty about your bush”. No job openings here for me.
A select few pictures here.