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There She Goes Again

Discovering myself, one trip at a time.

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Tue
4
Oct '11

Best Day EVER

Up and out by 6:30 am (which is seeming normal these days).  We enter Etosha and right away we see zebra’s, yet another animal I can’t get enough of. Did you know every zebra has a different stripe pattern? Just like our fingerprints, no two are the same. When a baby is born the mother and baby stay isolated for 8-10 days to learn each others stripe pattern, they will recognize each other for life after that.  We spot lots of springbok as well as a few giraffes.  We pull up to a field where another car is stopped and no way, there are two lions just lazing in the sun.  It’s lion-palooza here!  I will, grudgingly, admit that lions lying around are not that thrilling to watch.

We drive from watering hole to watering hole, finding only the usual suspects (kudu, impala, springbok, zebra).

Zebra Crossing

A real Zebra Crossing.

As we’re heading back to the lodge Regan stops the car and asks for my binoculars.  Then he tells us there are elephants in the bush, way off.  Once I look through the bino’s (thank you Charlotte!) I spot them.  Once again, I have no idea how Regan saw them, I’d never have seen them they are so far away and look like shadows in the bush.  Regan says they’re heading for the watering hole so we head there as well.

Guess what’s at the watering hole when we pull up?  Yup, a black rhino.  And springbok and a mom and dad Ostrich with a bunch of babies.

Black Rhino

Why hello Mr. Rhino. Thank you for posing!

Ostrich

Mom Ostrich, Dad Ostrich and the kids, out for their daily constitutional.

There are lots of cars around but nobody seems to realize there are elephants off in the distance.  You can hardly see them, they’re so far away.  It looks like there are about twelve and they are not moving.  Regan tells us they could come out in ten minutes or it could take ten hours.  Whatever, dude. We’re waiting.   Then he spots another three straight ahead in the distance.  Now the race is on, who’s going to be first out of the bush.  The rhino leaves and so do most of the people.  There is one car that has obviously spotted the elephants (probably because we keep looking that way with binoculars) but eventually they give up too.  Pity because right after that the first elephant from directly across comes out.  We think he’s going to keep walking but he stops.  Then another one comes out and a third.  They stop and stand just outside the bush.

We keep watching the group of 12, hoping they’ll come out.  It seems hopeless when finally one starts moving.  And stops right at the edge of the bush.  Oh come on buddy, just a little further.  Regan tells us that as soon as one of them comes out the rest will follow.  Please, oh please, oh please, come out!  Big boy finally does and once he’s out he keeps on moving.  When he’s about halfway to the watering hole the next boy heads out.  OK, that’s two on the move.  Mr. Brave Elephant arrives at the watering hole and he’s not coming to drink, as we thought , he’s coming for a mud bath.  This is so cool, I can’t believe I’m seeing this.  Then I look back over to where I think the other 10 will come out and I literally say “Holy Shit.”  Everyone turns and starts laughing and saying “I can’t believe this.”  There aren’t 10, there are more than I can count and they are now all coming out at the same time.  It’s like this mass of grey gorgeousness, heading our way.  Big ones, little ones, teenagers, elephants of ALL shapes and sizes.

Elephant

Mr. Brave, the guy who started it all.

Elephants

Here they come. 36. All at once. Phenomenal!

Regan starts counting and by the time he’s finished he’s up to 38, plus the three on the far side who still haven’t moved.  I can’t imagine I’ll ever see anything as incredible as this ever again.  38 elephants right in front of you, playing in the mud – you just can’t imagine what that’s like if you weren’t there.  The babies are hilarious, as always.

Elephants

It's mud time at the watering hole. Elephants definitely know how to throw a party.

Elephants

OK little one, you're covered.

As quickly as they came to the water hole (once they came out of the bush, that is) they turn and head back toward the bush but on the way they stop to give themselves a good coating of dirt.  The babies actually roll around in the dirt.  We stay until only the first two out remain.

Elephant

All mudded up with somewhere to go.

Elephants

Time for the elephants to go.

Elephants

Mud party over. Dirt party in progress.

After lunch, I’m in my room when I glance out the window and see a giraffe. I take a few pictures and then realize “the giraffe is going to get a drink.”  Charles had said he really wanted to see a giraffe drink so I grab my camera and start running. I call out to Charles “Giraffe at the Watering Hole!” As we arrive we find the giraffe setting herself up for a drink.  They’re very nervous about drinking, it’s the only time they are truly vulnerable.  It’s such a process for them to bend down that if an animal attacked at that time there’s no way they could stand up in time.

Giraffe

Last time I did this I was in TRX and promptly fell forward. Glad she's more coordinated than me.

We head back out for a game drive in Ongava later in the afternoon.  I actually wanted to stay at the lodge in case the lions came back, good thing I didn’t do that.  Regan said he wasn’t going to go far and he’d have the radio on so we set off, with Erwin along for the ride.  We drive to where the lions were last night and they’re gone.  Regan and Erwin are looking for tracks and don’t see any so they surmise the lions are still in the area.  I’ll take their word for it.

We’re driving along and damn near run over A LION who is lying right by the road (which isn’t really a road, it’s ruts in the dirt).  We actually don’t see that one until we’re stopped.  We see the one behind him and the two on the other side of the road.

Lion

He's not just the King of the Jungle. He's the King of wherever he is.

I was quite unhappy to be leaving tomorrow but after all that we’ve experienced today I think it’s good that we’re leaving.  There’s no way it could get better than this.

Somebody actually asked Regan earlier today where the elephants were (before we saw all of them).  People really seem to think they’re in a very large zoo and animals will be in certain areas and they’re guaranteed to see them.  As great as that would be then we would be in a very large zoo and the whole point of the reserves is to let animals do their thing.   People keep saying Botswana is going to be even better, I don’t see how that’s possible.

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