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Posts Tagged ‘Safari’

The Giraffe is not officially part of African Big 5. But I believe seeing one live in the wild clearly leaves an impression just as memorable as any of the big 5. A safari is not the same without seeing this magnificent mammal.

amazing at times how difficult to see, but this one came close

From watching them run in Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls, to seeing them cross the barren Namibian landscape, my closest encounters came again at Kruger National Park one morning.

On that day, I even captured a few younger Giraffes on film (or digital)  As the animal (male) ages its spots get darker (and of course it neck gets longer)

two younger giraffes take a curious look...

Stay adventurous, Craig

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At a time in my life, the Big 5 represented professional services firm. Two of the five (Arthur Andersen and KPMG) employed me and paid my salary for ten years. Ah, but those days are behind me.

Now, after my African adventures the Big 5 represents the African Big 5. Five special animals all safari drives hunt. No, not to kill thankfully (that was years ago), but to see, to watch and to enjoy.  The African Big 5 animals are; the Elephant, the Lion, the Buffalo, the Rhino, and the Leopard.

For some, the African Big 5 can seem too much like a checklist, a status for people who traveled to Africa. “Did you see the Big 5?” And for those that say no, well it is almost as if you missed out.  Trust me, you didn’t.  If you took in a safari, you didn’t miss out at all as odds are you had an amazing experience. If not take one. It’s a journey into the soul of Africa and the world’s true animal kingdom.

always good to have a crazy safari guide...

And as any experienced safari guide will tell you, what you see is part skill (they do work for tips), but also largely luck.  And frankly, for those that only care about that checklist mentality, or to capture the best photos to show someone else, well they miss much of the joys of witnessing and watching the wild. So do not get caught up in seeing every animal, but when you have a great view of an animal – enjoy it. Watch each, play, fight, hunt, chase, hide, love, eat or rest. You’ll be amazed.

Ok, easier for me to say since I saw all big five, but seeing Hippos submerge, Giraffe’s run, warthogs get frisky, a jackal under moonlight, or just even a bird in the tree at sunrise. All Amazing moments, all memorable moments.

But for all who want to know about the Big 5. Here they are:

The Elephant.

Just like I described in the, thirsty heard of elephants at Chobe, a single elephant was my first sighting, but then I witnessed herds at Chobe. Surprisingly very abundant on my safari excusrsions.

But probably the best moment was my last; a sighting in Kruger. A male elephant in musk starting to walk down the road. We stopped and essentially sat and separated the male from his prospects – the females in the breeding herd. A cause for excitement and stress.  We eventually and causiously passed and I took this photo. You can see the shadow of the vehicle in the photo.

the elephants let's us pass.....thankfully

The Lion.

Rumors at the Chobe Lodge circulated of a Lion and four cubs. While I explored the Namibian Fishing village, I missed this sighting, but the next morning our safari went back to the same spot and we saw the female lion – but no cubs. Still exhilarating. However, in Kruger days later, we watched a male Lion wake up from a nap and slowly turn towards us. Conserving energy he just looked, almost winked and then eventually went back to his nap. I took this image.

even from a distance, he was king.

The Cape Buffalo

In Kruger we witnessed a herd of Buffalo from a distance. The sheer numbers amazed. But, I think I preferred the setting at Chobe, Botswana where a single older Buffalo away form the herd traveled with a friend. The egret simply followed in his footsteps to eat all the insects disturbed from the Buffalo’s path.  At that moment I snapped this image.

the sole buffalo had a friend

The Rhinoceros

No longer found at Chobe in Botswana, the endangered species could only be viewed during my safari at Kruger. And luckily we happened to find a few Rhino. Some we noticed sitting in mud, and in this image I captured two coming out of the bush and heading (slowly) towards our range rover. Never a panic. Ok, maybe a small one.

the mother and child head straight for us....

The Leopard

The most elusive. And on the last afternoon safari drive in Kruger, the last of five attempts we finally did see the Leopard. It completed my Big 5. And truly the best for last.

We first sensed something, when a tree full of monkeys were alarmed. So loud. (nearly going ape). The guide confirmed suspicion and said something clearly spooked them. Then on the radio we learned just up the road a leopard was spotted. We were off to view it.

When we arrived, we waited and suddenly through a clearing, ever so quickly, we watched the spotted cat  come in and then out of view.  A brief moment. He allowed us to see him. We waited for another chance, but eventually decided to move on in to continue the search for more viewings.

When we heard over the CB he came out again, we raced back. Still some distance away, we witnessed another leopard along the road.  Darker spots, clearly a different leopard. An afternoon of two leopards and no photos although this time I took out my camera as it entered the bush and snapped a few random images. Nothing. Again, the leopard vanished.

taken just seconds after the leopard enter the bush...vanished

Ok, yes, I was fortunate to see all big 5 (only photos of four of them), but I didn’t do safari drives for that purpose. I might be able to say, “Yes, I saw all Big 5,” but the true magic is not in the counts but in the adventure. You see them on their turf and terms. You are truly in the bush. You are truly in Africa.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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a sole Zebra takes a look

Although my first view of a Zebra was through a bus window on traveling in the land of Zs – Zambia and Zimbabwe, it was not until South Africa where I watched the African equids up close and personal.

It was at Kruger National Park where I enjoyed a few Zebra sightings. See if you can tell which Zebra was white with black stripes and which was black with white stripes.

these Zebras are enjoying time with some Impala.

Actually, the question still remains a debate. White or Black Stripes? Apparently the answer is ‘it depends.’

stay adventurous,  Craig

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After watching my first sunset on the Chobe River from the shore, the next night I captured the moment from the river during an excursion into Botswana’s Chobe National Park just the other direction from the Namibia and the fishing village.

On a day where I drifted passed a herd of thirsty elephants and witnessed two hippos submerge in close proximity to a crocadile and other elephants, I anticipated another beautiful sunset. Yes, a fitting end to another amazing day on my African adventure.

As I headed to the stairs to climb to the open upper deck to capture the moment, I snapped this image. It captured not only the sunset, but the scene.  As if it was an elephant or a lion, everyone positioned themselves to see the setting sun. Everyone wanted the photo. That evening, I wasn’t alone with my fascination and focus on the sunset.

Happy Sunset Sunday.

everyone wanted the perfect picture on the Chobe River, Botswana

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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drifting along the Chobe River

Here two Hippos are joining friends in the river with a few other tourists taking in the view of the elephant in the back. And all this is just a few meters from the herd of thirsty elephants. The animals coexist in such proximity by the water. Amazing.

stay adventurous, Craig

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a single elephants approached the Chobe..

After witnessing the excitement of a single elephant on the edge of the river taking a drink, the boat headed a bit deeper into Chobe National Park. Then as we drifted, a breeding herd came for a sip. By the end of my African adventure, my ‘elephant in the wild’ counter may have topped a 100 across all my days in Africa. But each time it was indeed special. Very special.

...a thirsty heard comes to take an afternoon drink along the Chobe

stay adventurous, Craig

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