Tag Archive: Safari



It’s a wrap! Done with my blogs on my recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania. And here’s the blog summary. Just click away.

 

Nairobi

Treetops Lodge in Aberdares

Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria

Hippos of Lake Naivasha

Balloon Ride Over the Maasai Mara

The Day My Camera Jammed

Not Exactly Roughing It

A Visit To A Maasai Village

The Great Migration

Safari Woes

Ngorongoro

Lake Manyara

 

Twelve blogs? I was on a roll ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s more. Mi apologia, but can’t resist waxing poetic ๐Ÿ™„

 

I drifted through my Safari dreams

Long-kept, nurtured and cherished

Stayed awake through the long flight

Landing like a Zombie in Nairobi.

 

From Treetops Lodge to the famous lakes

Nakuru, Bogoria and Naivasha

We finally reached the savanna

Stretching from Maasai Mara to Tanzania.

 

Stopped by to huddle with Maasai Villagers

Just as well to jump with the lion slayers

Then off the next morn for a balloon ride

Over the plains, before another safari drive.

 

Lions feasting on a wildebeest

And another with a zebra foot

Circle of Life may seem harsh

But such is the nature of life.

 

Ngorongoro is so refreshing

Animals too happy to be migrating

Exactly how I felt in our luxury camp

Itโ€™s just too good, I wish not to move.

 

But alas, there is one last game drive

Not just off to the plains nor the lakes

Manyara has a little bit of all, around

Plus a swamp where hippos abound.

 

Maasai Mara and Serengeti

Jambo, Jambo canโ€™t forget thee

Dusted and wasted we felt

Asan Masante, these memories wonโ€™t melt.

 

 

Kwaheri, Africa! ๐Ÿ’•


We’re on the last leg of our trip. And I thought that somehow, I’d miss the “aroma” of Africa, the iconic red-garbed, jumping Maasai men, the distinct chirps, groans, snorts and roars of wild animals, and the savannah dust! Ernest Hemingway once said Manyara is the loveliest lake in Africa. Perhaps because Manyara is more intimate compared to the vast expanse of the Serengeti Plains, and more green, more lush as compared to the open spaces in Ngorongoro Crater. Consider this: Laka Manyara is 127 square miles vs Ngorongoro’s 3,205 square miles and Serengeti’s 5,700 square miles. In fact, it feels more like a jungle. Also, it is home to the tree-climbing lions of Tanzania. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky to spot even a single tree-climbing lion. Instead, we saw more or less the same game from the previous safari drives plus an abundance of baboons and monkeys swinging from tree branch to branch, or feeding on the abundant grass.

The bird lovers will love Lake Manyara. The “jungle” adventure here guarantees many bird sightings including pelicans, cranes and other waders in the very shallow lake which easily dries up certain times of the year. But hardly any flamingos. At least not as much as we saw in Lake Bogoria. Or even in Lake Nakuru. But this is Africa. Each park is unique. I’d venture to say this one is for the birders and tree lovers. There is a “treetop walk” where you can walk on hanging bridges between trees. And if you’re lucky, you may find the tree-climbing lions. Now that would really be one for the books.

(Bird photos from my friend Ernie Albano)

The baboons were everywhere. I’ve never seen so many in one morning. Unli-grass buffet for these baboons. The small ones looked so cute busily feeding themselves. And there were velvet monkeys too, busy swinging in the trees. Since this was our last outing, we weren’t too keen anymore to see more wildlife. You can say we’ve had our fill especially with the last 3 parks — Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. And since the tree-climbing lions were a no-show, we were underwhelmed. No Matata! The Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge with its balconies overlooking the lake and gorge were enough to give us a restful night on the eve of our departure from Africa. Asante Sana, Tanzania!


We came to Africa for the Great Migration of wildebeests, zebras and other wildlife from Serengeti Plains of Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The Migration is an annual spectacle following a cycle where animals search for greener grass, risk lives and limbs crossing the Mara River where their predators lurk to spot the weakest among them. It’s a “food trip” for all of them migrants and predators. So Ngorongoro is a breath of fresh air as we spotted happy, fatter wildlife who seem like they found their “happy place”. A Paradise. No one is moving from here. No migration. The animals co-exist, seem playful and no kidding, they’re fatter!

The ancient name of Africa is Alkebulan which translates to “mother of mankind” or “garden of Eden”. The Egyptian word “Afru-ika” literally means “motherland”. There is a conservation area in this important prehistoric site where the discovered fossils are claimed to be earliest known evidence of the human species. After the discovery of human footprints here, it’s plausible that humanity was born here! I leave it to you to debate in your mind if this is likely the Garden of Eden. But there are more interesting facts to consider. Ngorongoro Crater is in Northern Tanzania where lies the Eastern Great Rift Valley. The area is actually an extinct volcanic caldera — the largest in the world — resulting from a volcanic eruption ๐ŸŒ‹ where the cone collapsed some 2.5 million years ago. It is believed that the former volcano was as big as Mt. Kilimanjaro – the highest in Africa — before the implosion. Today, it is a mosaic of grassy plains, swamplands, forest, and lakes which act as one big playground for an assortment of wildebeests, rhinos, hippos, lions, cheetahs, leopards, flamingos, Egyptian geese, gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, waterbucks, elands, zebras, elephants, vultures and many species of migratory birds. Birders would love it here. Maybe they can name the countless birds we found. There are no giraffes as they can’t enter from the steep sides down to the crater lake, but they litter the volcanic rim.

If you’ve watched the epic film “Out of Africa”, you’d recall the scene where Denys (Robert Redford) flies over the Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro Crater. That breathtaking scene from the air while the soundtrack of Out of Africa was playing — remember? Unlike the Maasai Mara and Serengeti Plains, wild animals here are in plain view. As we drove from the rim down to the crater lake, we found so many things going on it’s almost insane. Wildebeests at play, mommy and baby ellies out for a leisurely stroll, hippos grunting and snorting, some zebras playing “dead” on the sun-kissed ground, the cape buffaloes don’t seem as threatening, ostriches a-strutting, impalas, gazelles and other antelopes looking like they’re just waiting to be photographed by strangers. The area sure looks like some Membership Club or playground. If you’re only visiting one park and limited to one safari drive in as little time as possible, try Ngorongoro. The Big 5 is here. There are rare black rhinos here. And the densest population of lions in the world is here. It may not even require as much effort to find these cats. Besides, it’s cooler and less dusty here!

A permit is required to enter the crater and gorge. Mercifully, responsible tourism is observed here. Is it the Eight Wonder of the World? Frankly, I still couldn’t grasp the idea that a mighty volcano the size of Kilimanjaro once stood here. Even mind boggling is the fact that the volcano erupted and collapsed inward! Do volcanoes do that? And what were the animals that may have gone extinct with that volcanic eruption 2.5 million years ago? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yeah, we’re both thinking dinosaurs. They did find some Dino bones here, along with stone tools used by humans. Now, I’m thinking Fred and Wilma. You guessed it. The Flintstones. On a more serious note, the beauty of Ngorongoro is truly remarkable. But even more intriguing is the mystery it held. For now though, I’m content with what I’ve seen and experienced. I’m happy the animals are happy. I’m hopeful the Tanzanian government maintain the “sanctity” of this site and not compromise for the sake of tourism bucks. God bless Africa!

The Great Migration


Just. Keep. Moving.

This annual spectacle involves up to 2 million wildebeests moving between the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. You may call it a “food trip”. After all, them wildebeests and zebras traveling, migrating together are seriously in need of greener grass such that they move from one side to the other, and then back. The herd crosses the Mara River where predator beasts lurk, searching for the weakest amongst the migrants, ready to pounce on its prey. We didn’t see any of such NatGeo drama where a lion ๐Ÿฆ actually chases and kills and feasts on one poor wildebeest or zebra, but we had close encounters with some lions guarding its prized kill, calling on the rest of its pride to join the feast, and a junior simba dragging a zebra foot.

Animal tracks visible from a hot air balloon.

The Grand Migration follows a cycle. And those who wish to view this magical wildlife in its annual journey must heed certain rituals. Like waking up early. At sunrise, you stand a good chance of seeing a “kill” involving these nocturnal hunters. At the very least, you can catch them eating their prey with a vulture or two waiting for the leftover carcass. It’s not easy especially for the late risers, but the sacrifice adequately rewards. We spotted quite an assortment of these lionesses with her cubs but only a few of the alpha males with their glorious mane.

๐Ÿ“ธ by Ernie Albano
๐Ÿ“ธ by Ernie Albano

From the hot air balloon, we shrieked in delight watching the wildebeests and zebras running or just hanging around. So many of them, that it looked like colonies of ants from a distance. The animal tracks were so visible too from the air. The Maasai Mara has acacia trees looking like giant bonsai plants where we spotted elephants, lions, cheetahs and even a lone sleeping leopard hidden up on its branches. I’m sure you’ve seen many photos of these Safari animals. My iPhone cam shots are not bad but I didn’t pass up the chance to borrow some photos taken by a friend who is a hobby photographer. But what I want to share here are photos of how we went about these game drives. Like how about waking up at 3 am, leaving your hotel at 4am to arrive before 5am where your hot air balloon is being prepped for flight? Or eating tons of dust following land cruiser safari vehicles who responded maybe just a few minutes earlier to radioed alerts on animal sightings in the vast expanse of the savannah. And mind you, radioed animal sightings don’t mean you can get there in a jiffy. Some drives can be a half hour to an hour of bumpy rides along dusty paths.

The land cruisers have no air conditioning. With an open sun roof, this is understandable. The early mornings are fine but it gets warmer towards noon. And so you’ve got dusty, bumpy and hot by midday and it’s not a good combination especially if there are no animal sightings. At one point, someone in our group told the guides we’ve seen enough antelopes, wildebeests, zebras and birds. This is so so our guides can skip these searches and instead focus on more lions, cheetahs, elephants, leopards, rhinos, hippos and even hyenas. It was our 3rd day of game drives, and we were tired despite all the excitement. Besides, it made lotsa sense to restrict the game drives to the Big 5. If at all, we’d change the rules only if there’s a kill, a mating or some animal in labor to give birth. Fancy that?

Here’s more. I’m a coffee lover and days don’t start with me without a good cup of coffee. But you need to watch your take of this fine liquid brew if you care not to do your business in the bush. In fact, you can’t actually pee in the bush! There are spots where there are toilets but while on a game drive, you just can’t tell your driver guide to stop so you can pee. No way, Josรฉ. If you think your bladder is not in good condition, skip the morning coffee. ๐Ÿ˜ญ Then of course, there’s the packed lunch. Unless you start very early and wish to get back to your hotel for a decent lunch, you need to make do with a packed lunch. There are designated picnic grounds (with toilets) where you can eat — sometimes with the dust ๐Ÿ˜”. Whether you’re in Maasai Mara or Serengeti Plains, enjoy the dust. It’s on your jacket, your shirt, your pants, your HAIR! I hardly touched nor ran my fingers through my hair after that first time that it felt hard and thick with dust. Yay! Finally, do remember that the hotels and lodges know exactly what should go into that lunch box that won’t spoil till noontime. I’m talking boiled egg, a piece of fried chicken, a simple sandwich, a banana, an apple, juice and water. If you’re in luck, there may be a small bag of potato chips in your box. One hotel packed us a really good lunch — a choice of a veggie burger, or noodles with stir-fried veggies or something I had for 2 straight days: mixed rice and stir-fried chicken with veggies. It may be a cold lunch but certainly better than a boiled egg and fried chicken. Only issue is you’d eat it in a picnic area infested with “pets” looking like giant rodents. I don’t know what they are, but here, have a look. I found a couple cavorting right under the table beside my foot.

Soooo, have I managed your expectations well enough? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Going on a safari requires that one keeps an open mind. There are a lot of surprises, hopefully pleasant surprises more than disappointments. The animal sightings are not guaranteed. You may not see what you like to see, and then see what you’re not interested in. Everything is sooo natural, unscripted, spontaneous and even unexpected. There are rules to follow, safety procedures to observe. You may cut short your game drives but such are decided “in the field”. If you’re the type who easily get bored, I suggest you don’t go. Those NatGeo documentaries watched from your Lazy Boy may be good enough for you. Plus you can have your hot meal while watching. As our Safari guide Joshua would say, you need patience to truly enjoy this. Hakuna Matata!


On clear days, the soft, pillowy clouds dot the blue horizon. Grass turn golden on certain hours of the day while the few trees left standing (and uneaten by ellies) in the savannah provide shade to some of the most beautiful animals. Safari drives early morn, packed lunch boxes midday, more game drives, before calling it a day. All these can drain you of whatever energy is left. The thrill of animal sightings in their own habitat pumps your adrenaline, leaving you wasted by day’s end. Mercifully, our accommodations in the Ole Serai Luxury Camp make for glorious evenings. The camp’s only 7 months old but it’s so well-run (thanks, Rashid!) and well-appointed. The tents are more permanent structures, roped down tight and “zipped up” every night by able staff. Nighttime melodies include “scratchings” of cape buffaloes’ backs on the ropes supporting the tents, followed by squeals of delight after a good scratch, the occasional rawrrrrr of a lion, leaves crunching while an unknown beast passes and birds chirping early morns. If you’re lucky, a giraffe may walk by oh so elegantly while you’re seated on the porch.

I’ve heard of and read about luxury camps, yet I was still floored by how luxurious this camp is. The soft pillows, the dresser, the escritoire, the sturdy but comfy granny armchairs, the lookout porch, the modern sinks and bath appointments. It broke my heart to leave this camp after 2 nights! Internet may be weak in the rooms but that’s a good reason to head for the Reception Lounge or the Serengeti Cocktail Lounge. My only complaint is how they price their wine. A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon costs US$40, but a glass of the same wine costs US$15. If there’s 2 of you, you’re better off getting a bottle and bringing what’s left over (if any!) to your tent. Well, it’s a “young” camp and they can always review their price listings for cocktails. But they sure have a good crew — in the dining lounge, I remember the very efficient Ezekiel who’d happily take our breakfast and dinner orders. There are always choices, and it’s a chore to decide which from among the good stuff.

If there’s a word I’d use to describe the lounges and our rooms, I need to choose between luxurious and opulent. I mean, even many 5 star hotels don’t have escritoire as good looking as what we had in our room. I felt a longing to write down a thank you letter on some fancy stationery and feel those Karen Blixen vibes ๐Ÿ˜‚ The bathroom and toilet may not be as luxurious as those found in regular hotels but hey, we’re in the middle of a savannah! No tubs too but I’m impressed with the attention to details — the coffee and tea set in the room, the soft towels and robes, the dresser, chandeliers and night lamps.

I just love how the camp looks at night. From our tent, the pathway leads up to the Serengeti Lounge (for cocktails) and right beside it, the Acacia Lounge where breakfasts and dinners are served. I noticed there’s an area for Boma dinners too but I guess one needs to make prior arrangements to set it up ๐Ÿ˜‰ We enjoyed our meals here, and found the selections adequate. It’s just too bad we can’t linger in the porch with our feet up, nursing a drink, enjoying African starry nights. The camp staff will gently nudge you in and remind you to use the radio for help, if need be, before they leave you all “zipped in” inside. Mornings are ok since the roving guards and crew are up and around. But there was one morning they found a loitering lion at the camp’s periphery. Soooo….. early morning jogs may not really be a good idea.

(This is NOT a paid review. Just ramblings from a happy, satisfied guest )


Here you are, way too giddy with excitement in the vastness of the Savannah plains. Then your camera jammed, wasted after all that zooming in for close up shots. Must be dust in the lens. What do you do? You fish out your iPhone and try your best not to lose your calm. These animal sightings have been your Safari dreams and NO ONE, and NOTHING can ruin this holiday for moรญ. Seriously. Then, I found a solution. It was my good fortune to be traveling with a hobby photographer. And I did push my luck by unashamedly asking if I could grab some of his photos. Master Photographer Ernie Albano, you saved the day for me! Even if my camera didn’t conk out on me, I couldn’t have taken these lovely, stunning closeups of the safari animals we met and experienced. And just so you know, your dear wife takes pretty neat photos too with her tablet! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Simba and his Queen both make good profiles but admittedly, the Lion King looks more impressive with his royal mane. Ernie caught him with his mane blown by the wind in the vastness of the golden savannah. And don’t you agree he snapped a good impression of the lioness with keen hunter’s eyes? Or have a look at the Mommy and Baby Ellie out on a stroll, or this cheetah with spots so clear you’d want to run your fingers on its fur…..until it sticks out its tongue! Those zoom lens are good but obviously, Ernie has mastered these shots. I’d be afraid to have him take my closeup — warts, wrinkles and all. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Some animals really look lovely. Like the swans of the Savannah — the giraffes, looking so demure with soulful eyes generously endowed with thick, long lashes. So with the regal lions, exotic cheetahs, graceful gazelles and impalas, majestic elephants, tough looking rhinos, smart baboons, sexy zebras, serious-looking wildebeests. But I couldn’t find an adjective to describe the hippos. We found more of them in Lake Naivasha and in Ngorongoro, but the stinky ones we encountered in Maasai Mara look just the same. Non-descript smelly mammals who look fearsome and aggressive? I’m trying here. Or maybe I’m just biased against them after the mauling incidents and attacks in Lake Naivasha.

Ernie took very good photos of the birds too. The yellow weavers responsible for those nests we found in many trees grace many of Ernie’s frames. My favourite. And there were others — kingfishers, herons, egrets, vultures, cranes and many more species we couldn’t name. We stopped to let him take these impressive shots every so often until we grew tired and connived to refrain from alerting him of our spottings. My bad! ๐Ÿค

Thank you, Manong Ernie, for sharing all these Safari photos with me. So crisp and clear, and such depth. Very generous of you. And ohhhh, the last 2 photos I took. Not as crisp nor clear, but just so the readers see you “in action”. Hakuna Matata!๐Ÿ˜Š

And here’s one for the birders. Photo Credits to Ernie Albano, of course.

https://youtu.be/0hHx6IOJscU

LIFE AS A MOVIE (Part 1)


I’m on a REVIEW MODE. I always tell my family that when I grow too old to be able to travel without breaking any bones or being a burden to my travel companions, I’d be quite content in a lazy boy watching my OWN MOVIES and photo albums. It’s my MEMORY AIDE these “memory catchers”. I want to remember all the happy moments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Safari videos certainly rank up there in my collection of memories. How else can you replay those moments when you’re just a few feet from a rhino or a pride of lions? It’s a miracle my hands stopped shaking to capture these moments in video. But my Zambian adventure tops the list too. Aaah….. Zambia. It’s everything I did not expect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first helicopter ride didn’t happen in Zambia. My first heliflight was back in 2007 in Alaska. Setting foot on Mendenhall Glacier was a top thrill too. That’s when I knew I can give up shopping anytime to blow dollars on these expensive adventures. But there were also happy moments where I didn’t have to burn a hole in my pocket. Times with family. Adventures with my “elves”. *Happiness*

 

 

 

 

 


I’m back. One short to make the Big 5. The leopard was a no-show. But the giraffes, zebras and many antelopes more than made up for the leopard’s absence.

 

 

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Game! I was happy and content until I reviewed a blog written by my friend Shane Dallas a.k.a. Travel Camel. Shane did his first safari years back and has since gone back to the less beaten paths in Africa. You can say I’m the newbie where Shane has gone on to pursue other dimensions of travel adventures.

 

 

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I may have seen enough zebras in Entabeni Private Game Reserve. ย BUT they were all COMMON zebras. Not the Grevy’s Zebras with white bellies and thinner stripes. I was awed by the regal giraffes with their elegant necks and luscious eyelashes, but not one I sighted was the reticulated giraffes Shane has blogged about. The ones we found in Entabeni had brown “splotches” while the reticulated giraffes have finer and more defined skin patterns. Spot the difference, if you will.

 

 

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Our very first Rhino!

 

 

The rhino we sighted was the white rhino. White not because of it skin color, but WIDE lipped rhinos. Compare this with the hook lipped BLACK rhino. Smaller in size, but different. More rare, they say.

 

 

 

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The Rare Black Rhino

 

 

And then there are the antelopes. Many impalas. Some elands. But no kudus with their spiral horns. Another friend (whose kudu photo i borrowed) suggests we do a national park next time. More animals, more natural, she says. Well, I guess there’s no “perfect safari”. There are some safari animals indigenous to a certain place. Like the springboks are indigenous to South Africa’s Western Cape while the Grevy’s zebras are nowhere to be found in Entabeni. But that’s fine. There’s always a next visit. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

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Kudus. I only met you on a dinner plate but NOT in person ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Elands. Looking like they just had their sumptuous dinner.

“Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all.โ€

Brian Jackman (2004 Travel Writer of Year )


We finally reached Entabeni Game Park Reserve after 3 1/2 hours on the road from Johannesburg. Made it with a couple of hours before sunset. A cooling breeze gusted under a hazy sun, perfect time for pleasant thoughts. I wanted to let out a blood-curdling scream with the exuberance of an 8 year old. “We’re in Africa, ready for our first safari!”

 

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Entabeni Mountain. The Rock. All of 1.8 Billion Years Old. Jurassic!

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Young Henri Taking Our Photo Here

 

 

The Entabeni Mountain looks so majestic in all its orange-ness. Entabeni means “place by the mountain”. Would you believe this natural wonder is 1.8 billion years old? Yes, Virginia. Jurassic. Imagine them dinosaurs crowding around this majestic creation in those times. Maybe planting some eggs around the 22,000-hectare park beside those humongous termite mounds we found littering the savannah.

 

 

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Wildebeest or Gnus? Entabeni means “Place By The Mountain”

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As my friend says “the swan of the African Savannah”

 

 

Did we get lucky on our first drive? We had the youngest, newest park ranger driving for us today and the next couple of days. Henry is a fine young man of 22 on his first job. Just a month on the job, and we’re in luck to be his first group. We climbed into our safari vehicle like we do it everyday, eager for our first adventure. With the wind riffling through our hair, we gathered dust as our safari jeep cut across the savannah in search of the Big 5. And more.

 

 

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Free rider bird on a friendly Impala.

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Our First Rhino. A White Rhino. And that has nothing to do with the color. Fierce.

 

 

In a matter of minutes, we had our fill of impalas, warthogs, eland and wildebeest. Then, our very first rhinoceros in all its 2-ton fierceness! As the day approached dusk, we found our giraffes. Looking truly regal, the giraffes walked ever so gracefully and elegantly twisting its long neck just enough to show us those wonderful eyes drooping with those luscious eyelashes. If there’s a Big 5 in the safari world, the giraffes should top the list for the Lovely 5 among the safari animals. Truly lovely in a regal sort of way.

 

 

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Hi Gorgeous! Look at those eyes with those luscious eyelashes!

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Elands. Like Kudus with straight horns and sometimes no body lines.

 

 

Henry showed us some rhino dung, followed some lion tracks, showed some impala dung, searched for more safari animals, talked about the birds, the trees, the termite mounds, and more dung. Before long, we asked our dear Henry “no more dung” for today. He obliged. What a lovely, sweet, young man! The same can be said of the rest of the safari rangers we met. Juan, Philip, Adrian and another fellow (who guided us through our Pedi Village Tour) whose name I can’t recall. All so friendly, cheerful and polite.

 

 

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Our friend from Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. Trivia: Males are bulls. Females are cows. Babies are calves. Just like cattle!

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NO, this is not a photo from the website. This is actual photo of our encounter with a Rhino who kept us still and quiet as it passed by the side of our safari jeep.

 

 

We’ve seen and touched the elephants in Knysna Park. We saw our first rhinoceros on our first safari drive. Done with 2. (The cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and zebras we found don’t count.) So, on our 2nd day we were drooling with excitement to see the next 3: cape buffaloes, lions and leopards.

 

 

Maybe hard to imagine why cape buffaloes would land in the list of the Big Five. Our very able guides and safari rangers explained how hunters feared these buffaloes as they can attack without any provocation at all. Much unlike the lions, leopards, cheetahs and many other fierce- looking animals, these buffaloes can attack even if they don’t feel threatened at all.

 

 

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Sssssh….. This cape buffalo is staring us down.

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Horses with stripes? ZEBRAS.

 

 

To be honest, I had my apprehensions sitting in an open safari vehicle before this trip. Without any protective bars, I imagined cruising across the savannah in search of safari animals completely EXPOSED and UNPROTECTED. I was tempted to google search safari accidents before signing up for this trip but decided against it. I’d never consider chickening out, for sure. Let those lions roar. Just don’t expect me to walk into a thicket and step within a few feet of a lion’s paws. I’m adventurous with a capital A but my nerves get in the way sometimes.

 

 

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Rawr! This is my territory, roared the tawny lion with a fluffy mane.

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Get outta here, this lion seems to say!

 

 

We found an entire herd of cape buffaloes on our afternoon safari drive. Looks like they’re having a party! Actually, Entabeni has a breeding farm and we just happened to stumble upon these breeders. They don’t look threatening at all but we kept still and quiet as our safari rangers advised. A lucky break came just before dusk when we spotted a pride of lions in the bushes. Busily feeding on what looked like wildebeest or what’s left of it, we watched a cub happily munching its feast while mommy lion grabbed another piece of dark meat for the other cub. My heart must have skipped a beat, thudding like crazy. Lions in the wilds! So this is how it feels like watching them. Therein lies the thrill, an odd feeling of detachment. I don’t remember how long we stayed, but I do remember there’s a brittle air of expectancy as I looked into a pair of eyes that seem not to miss nothing. I’m telling you, the spirit of adventure is a snatch more intense here. A few meters away, yet the sounds are closer!

 

 

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Hunter Lioness is busy feeding her cubs.

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Warthogs. Pumba?

 

 

As my pulse steadied and my heart found its rhythm, I forced myself to breath deeply. I can’t speak for the others in the same safari cruiser with me, but I bet their heartbeats weren’t normal like mine. Our ranger said they have been searching for these lions the past 2 days. Weren’t we in luck! The saying “Be careful what you pray for” couldn’t be more true in this instance.

 

 

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Mommy Lion takes a rest while her cubs happily feast on what looked like a cursed wildebeest.

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The Savannah and the Mountains. Check out the lone cheetah under the tree.

 

 

Exhaling after holding my breath for what felt like years, I realized I had my mouth wide open in a mindless gape of surprise, excitement, and fear. In that order. As my mind went on a sabbatical, my fingers busily pressed for snapshots to document this rare animal experience. Wish my shots were clearer, but can’t complain. A video of a cub shaking its head as it pulled, chewed and enjoyed its meal in the wilds makes my day!

 

 

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And now there are 2 cheetahs.

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Hippos playing hide and seek?

 

 

Most certainly, this is the highlight of my African adventure. Thank you, Travel Bounty! ย Thank you, dear Henri of Entabeni Private Game Reserve. And thank you Juan and this fellow from the Pedi Village who “rescued” me out of an African toilet. ย Now , that episode deserves a separate blog. Meanwhile, here’s the link to our African Safari video.ย 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEXhHlNPK04

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Tales from Entabeni.


Back from nearly 3 months in Spain and done with all my back blogs, I only managed one weekend out-of-town trip, a day trip to Pampanga, a trip to the Museum and an afternoon in Chinatown. In between, I was blogging, researching and reading travel books and blogs.

 

 

 

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It’s been almost 3 months since I got back. Armchair traveller? Or a couch potato? I have long had all of 45 movies in my iPad to fill in the time waiting at airports, bus terminals and train stations. None watched. Till lately. I even managed to watch “Oro, Plata, Mata” on YouTube! That, plus all the research on my much-coveted Camino de Santiago and African safari. Nearly a daily routine…… Just the latest in my string of “bad habits”. ๐Ÿ˜„

 

 

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Sourced from the Net: An African Safari

 

 

I looked at the photo above with giddy enthusiasm. The sensation approximates my earlier terrible obsessive desire to go to Macchu Picchu. Missed out on the latter while my dear friends went without me. ๐Ÿ˜ข The Camino de Santiago is something I’d also want to do. More so now when I learned a friend has done the 100 kilometer walk recently. All apprehensions banished. I’d do this for sure. Perhaps next year.

 

 

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Sourced from the Net: An African Queen Sunset Cruise (Victoria Falls, Zambia Side)

 

 

Must be post-travel blues to explain all this laziness. I’ve been knocking books off the shelf to fill in the time. I have gained 3 pounds since I got back. I don’t even do my daily exercises now. For sure, something feels off-kilter. When I start cleaning out my closet and begin feeling sluggish putting the stuff back, something’s terribly wrong. So, how do you shake off the blues?

 

 

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Sourced from the Net: Garden Route, South Africa

 

 

I did what most others advise. I’m off again. Soon. Those post-travel blues wiped away as I start feeling peppy again over the prospect of crossing out another item in my bucket list. Watch this page, amigos y amigas. Pretty soon, I’d be donning my loafers and bush jackets as I psyche myself to do that bush walk. Maybe meet and greet a pride of lions. Or ride an ostrich, if an elephant won’t do.

 

 

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Sourced from the Net: One of My All-Time Favorite Movie