Thursday, June 26, 2008

Our first Safari!

We went to a game park called Mahungu about 2 1/2 hours away and left at the crack of dawn. This particular game park is a one day drive through where you take your own vehicle un-guided over designated roads that take you through a variety of terrain like dense bush and open fields (keep in mind: no fences!).

There were 6 of us in our 7 passenger 4x4 and we had a wonderful day of seeing all sorts of animals. We saw:
Impala (their version of a deer),
Kudu (curly horns and cool stripes),
Zebra (self explanatory)
Roan (a browny-red antelope),
a whole group of Baboons (the little playful ones were so cute),
Warthogs (think Lion-King),
Hippos (mostly far off in the distance but our little lunch spot was right beside water and it was evident that we were in the hippo land and we saw one poke it’s head out at us, thankfully it decided our lunch wasn‘t appetizing),
Cape Buffalo (one of “the Big Five”, we saw 3 of them behind a bush not too far from our car and let me tell you they did not look impressed with us and barely took their eyes off of us),
Wildebeast (big and grey, kinda beast like)
And elephants…here’s where the story comes in.

We had been driving all day and we were desperate to see an elephant. So we’re driving slowly along, scouring the bush when suddenly one of our group, Mackenzie, shouts “Stop the car!” There it was, our first encounter with a wild elephant. After looking at antelope all day I could not get over how incredibly massive this creature was - this must have been a bull elephant because he was huge and just off to the left of the road behind a tree. We were so excited and all wanted pictures so we crept forward until we were just on the other side of the tree from the behemoth.

We were all in awe at how beautiful he was and wished he wasn’t so hidden so we could get a better shot. Now during this, Kimmie, a nurse who has been in Namibia for a couple years, was explaining to us what cues elephants give you when they are mad. One of the first cues is that they will flap their ears at you- but as this is also the most efficient way of shooing flies, this cue is difficult to interpret. (Do you see where this is going?!) It started to flap its ears a little, but we were on the other side of the tree and therefore felt quite safe.

Then the elephant decided to try and relocate away from us, so it started to walk the opposite direction, crumpling bushes on its way. The atmosphere in the car was intense with excitement. We all wanted to follow it (Mackenzie was videotaping and we all wanted the perfect shot), so Daryl, who was driving, started backing up (Mackenzie loudly saying “Back-up“ over and over). Apparently we were approaching too fast for the elephants liking, so he turns around and stomps the ground, madly flapping his ears at us. Our lives flashed before our eyes, and Mackenzie was frantically screaming “DRIVE FORWARD” over and over. Daryl threw the car into gear and hit the gas, while I was frantically trying to close my electric window, wondering why they ever designed them to close so slowly. Seriously, I almost wet myself…but the elephant turned around again after a few steps and lumbered across the road behind us into the bush.

Although in that moment all we could think of was “Jurassic Park“, Kimmie wasn’t scared and said that the elephant would have given us more warnings before stomping our car. We’re such rookies! After the adrenaline had worn off, we couldn’t stop laughing at ourselves, and the whole thing is on video! Later at the very end of our day we came across another 6 elephants drinking at a waterhole, and being a little gun shy, gave them plenty of space. They are magnificent creatures.

You have to check out some more of our photos!:

1 comment:

Sara Wiens said...

Missing you! Sounds like a fun if not scary adventure. Check out my message on hotmail. Love you two immensely.
Sara, Robin and Ronan