The company we chose to go with is called Africa On Foot, and they live up to their name. In addition to the typical evening game drives, the mornings begin with a three hour hike to get up-close and personal with the animals in their natural habitat. These hikes began at 6 am, and ended with a well-deserved breakfast.
We were still the only guests on this first morning, so we had a private hike as well. Greg was very serious about our safety. To begin with, he carried a very large rifle with him – just in case. When we walked, it was single file, and there was to be no talking. If we had a question, we could snap our fingers to get his attention, and then stop walking while we talked about things.
We learned very quickly that safari guides out here know pretty much everything there is to know about these animals. Over the next few days, we became experts ourselves on every footprint and pile of poop we came across.
We also learned about most of the trees in the area: from the Mopane (mo-PA-nay) trees, whose butterfly-shaped leaves close tightly up when the sun gets too hot, to the “dead dog” trees, so nicknamed because they have “no bark.” The elephants like to eat the bark and the layer just underneath. If they strip the bark all the way around the tree, the tree dies. As long as the elephants leave a strip of bark to connect top to bottom, the tree can often survive.
As we made our way from trees to animal tracks, we came upon a giraffe eating his daily breakfast. The giraffe was a surprise to us, but Greg led us right to him. There are little birds that stay with the giraffes, and eat parasitic insects off of the giraffe’s body. It was some of these birds that tipped Greg off that a giraffe was nearby.
More pics from our morning hike
We happened on one of the many watering holes just in time for some elephants to come for a drink. First was a young bull elephant by himself. Greg had us get down behind a tree just in case he decided to get aggressive towards us. (The elephant, not Greg.) Elephants, we learned, will not charge through a natural obstacle such as a tree.
This watering hole seemed to be a happening spot for other animals too.
After relaxing for the afternoon, we headed out on another game drive full of animals, such as…
And of course…
The real sighting of the evening was a lioness who completely didn’t care that we were right there. She stretched out like a big house-cat and took a nap while we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed.
Whew! And this was all by our second day. Stay tuned for more wildlife fun.