African Safari blog

A Very Special Safari: Part III

Destinations

We reassembled for pre-dinner cocktails (an African safari doesn’t have to exclude life’s little luxuries!) The bland coloured safari attire replaced with considerably more glamorous regalia.

Most guests reported to having indulged in the hot bubble-bath that awaited their return in a candle-lit bathroom. The romantic atmosphere further enhanced by the dinner arrangement under the stars in front of a blazing fire in the open-air boma. The extensive menu catered to everyone’s palate which included a vegetarian dish and a novel local dish, kudu kebabs – which were surprisingly edible!

We were pleasantly surprised at the appearance of the local choir whose singing and dancing were so infectious that we all joined in and indeed we nearly lost one of our number, Kim, to the village in the midst of the pied piper-like kanga line! Conscious of our early start in the morning, we all faded away to our rooms as the embers died away.

A new day was just dawning as the 4×4 WDs nosed their way out of the lodge grounds with their cargo of eager safari goers. Our first encounter, not far from the lodge, were two white rhinos quietly grazing away.

They look so prehistoric, which of course they are – as is the belief that their horn (which is made of the same substance as our finger nails, keratin) has many medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. This antiquated and stupid belief is responsible for the hunting of this gentle creature to almost extinction. Indeed the black rhino has been on the endangered list for a number of years and the white rhino is fast following in its path. The reference to black and white is not, of course, an allusion to colour but a throwback to the Dutch settlers reference to the “wide” mouth of one of the species which the English interpreted as “white”. These guys need a “wide” mouth to graze on the grass, while the “black” rhino has a more pointed mouth for browsing on the bush.

As you might expect, considering their long-time inclusion on the endangered list, the black rhino are considerably more rare than their white counterparts. They are also known to be more aggressive and possess quite different characteristics like keeping their offspring behind the mother (like an ethnic black mother) in contrast to their white relatives who keep their young in front (like white mothers pushing prams!) Both varieties of rhino have very poor eyesight but a great sense of smell – so to avoid any altercation (especially with the more aggressive black rhino) it is best to stay down-wind!
Eventually the time came to leave these moving mountains to graze in peace and we headed off in search of a herd of buffalo who have been busy “depositing” evidence that they are somewhere in the vicinity. Though how a 300 strong herd of buffalo can hide from the bush paparazzi is a complete mystery to me.

In time we found a lone daggaboy (literally translated it means “muddy boy” – the photo will show clearly that this guy has earned his name!)

A daggaboy is an old buffalo bull who has retired from the herd and either finishes out his days solo or in the company of a few other retired bulls. Daggaboys are generally old, cranky and unpredictable and best avoided while walking in the bush (which is what earns them their position on the Big 5 list.) Interestingly while being part of a group enhances a buffalo’s chances of survival by creating more predator spotters, it is thought that daggaboys will not go to the rescue of one of their number under threat by a predator. Unlike a breeding herd, which protects its own, it is each daggaboy for himself! Finally we locate the breeding herd in a cloud of breath moistened on the cool morning air. Many were still lying abed at 7:30 am chewing the cud!

On our way to our morning tea location, we got a glimpse of five dainty but camera-shy female kudus (said to be God’s favourite antelope – a delightful story which you will hopefully hear some day on safari!)

By the time we actually stopped for morning coffee, my bladder was recording every bump as a shock wave! So I was very pleased to nose in beside another Savanna vehicle at the hippo pool. I was also thankful that at this hour (about 8:30 am) the hippos had made their way back into the water to escape the sun and other dangers. So we were free to enjoy our Amarula-laced coffee to the strains of the hippo chorus.

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