My Stage is the World

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive

Carnival of the Animals

on September 6, 2014

For once, getting up at 6am was not a problem, although trying to wash with nothing more than a bucket of cold water was interesting! As we left our room there were – quite literally – baboons everywhere! Little babies were clinging onto their mother’s stomach and we got our first sight of the park – green, vast and so beautiful.

Baboons
Into the jeep and off we went, bumping down the potholed road with the wind whipping our faces and breathing in the strong smell of petrol. More baboons, springboks and birds everywhere we looked, plus elephant footprints and dung. Would we see an elephant though?

Yes!

Turning a corner, a male elephant was hiding in the bushes having his breakfast. It was amazing to see, although he was quite camouflaged.

After taking plenty of photos of a bush with some grey patches we continued on, before turning around and seeing the elephant IN THE OPEN. He was huge and so close, with a broken tusk – it was beyond incredible.
Male elephant
Afterwards, we didn’t see much else although we went through rivers and around trees, but the pressure was off – we’d seen the main attraction. We pretty much skipped to breakfast – omelette and bread with coffee – and ordered our lunch for when we got back from our next trip.

Messing About on the River

We then joined 2 Americans (Sarah and Amanda) and 2 Dutch (Leike and Flora) girls for a Tuc-Tuc ride to Mognori, an Eco village a few kilometres from the park. It was pretty bumpy, but really good fun and our guide Ibrahim was chatty and friendly.
TucTuc selfie
When we arrived at the village, we were met by some villagers who took us down the river in canoes. We helped them paddle and although we didn’t see any animals, it was beautiful – so peaceful and green.
Canoe trip
Back in the village, we were given a tour and saw inside some of the huts. The women showed us how they made Shea butter and we had the option to buy some from them. It was quite surreal because the children were listening to Rihanna!

Ibrahim told us about the village legend of the pigeons, that says that if the keeper is cruel, when he dies the pigeons will fly away and never come back. The medicine man showed us his collection of remedies made from herbs, nark etc. (for poison, erectile dysfunction and sores), and we saw the corn mill, plus the Shea tree and climbed onto the roof of one of the huts.

Tis But a Scratch

Back at the motel after another Tuc-Tuc ride, it was time for a delicious interesting process cheesed sandwich with bitter yam chips – very disappointing, but we were all starving after such a busy morning!

I then made the mistake of having a quick dip in the pool and it was so nice I decided to skip the 3pm walking safari and stay for some sunbathing and swimming. I also didn’t fancy walking through muddy water to see a python… Even mild ophidiophobia can freak you out in the jungle!

While I read my book, the others went on the walk and although they didn’t see anything, it was apparently really good fun. I wanted to go, but the sun and pool made me lazy! I also felt much cleaner than I had in a while.

When they got back Frenchie and I popped over to the office to arrange the night safari, but were told we were too late as it had to be arranged earlier in the day and the guides had all gone home. We managed to corner a guide on his way home and played the ‘stupid tourist’ card.

It worked! He called his boss, who rocked up on a motorbike and agreed to organise it for us. Result.

After grilled fish and rice (with Smirnoff Ice), we set off for the jeep. Climbing on top of the car we realised there were no railings whatsoever. Hold on tight! Our guide Robert was brilliant, very funny and informative. He gave us each a torch and instructed us to shine it to the side and watch out for eyes.

The ride was ridiculously bumpy, but fun, although after 45 minutes I’d only seen a springbok in the distance, plus some janga birds that looked like rocks, but flew up just before the car hit them!

We were obviously very disappointed as the night safari was pretty expensive, but suddenly we turned a corner and saw AN ELEPHANT! Right in front of us, eerily grey in the torchlight. Glancing sideways we managed to see another two, huge and again very close. It was magical.

After that things improved, we saw a Janet cat, hundreds of springbok and gazelles and I managed to spot a crocodile lurking in the shallows. Each time we saw something the driver stopped so we could take a closer look.

Peering left with my torch, I was suddenly pushed forwards by Robert. My first thought was panic so I resisted to stop myself falling out and screamed… Just as a huge branch whacked me across the face. He was trying to get me to duck… Which I quickly learned to do after that!

The journey was getting more bumpy and I almost fell out several times and hit the railing behind me so hard I could feel a bruise developing as we continued! Robert kept gripping me as we hit pothole after pothole – it was like a roller coaster ride!

Passing through the staff village we came across hundreds more springbok on the school playground, their eyes glowing in the torchlight. Robert offered to take us on a four-hour walk the next day so we could see lions, but we were leaving at 10am so had to decline.

Returning full of excitement, we had a quick drink by the pool before turning in, as we were doing another safari at 7am.

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