Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 9: Kariega to Plett

I’m listening to the Indian Ocean crashing onto the beach a few hundred metres from where I sit as I type this. Soon, I will retire to bed, and continue to hear the Indian Ocean pounding away. Today has been another unbelievable day, and I think – not for the first time – that if it weren’t for the unfortunate political and cultural strife here, this country might be a true paradise.

Woke up this morning from the deepest sleep I have had since I left my own bed. It’s really tough having to deal with the luxurious, super-king-sized beds here. After another excellent breakfast – surprisingly, they did not offer us anything to drink – we headed out for another day of hunting…with cameras rather than guns.

As a Canadian in South Africa, I feel I can’t be too concerned about the ‘cold’ weather these South Africans comment on. However, when Ranger is putting on multiple layers under his coat, a scarf, and a toque, I don’t have a problem reaching for a sweatshirt and a jacket. They were necessary….it was COLD! Only until the sun came up in full force. By the time we were looking at animals, it was toasty warm.

We started the hunt looking at lion food (blue wildebeest is the local favourite). Apparently, a lion can gorge on 150-odd kilos of meat in one sitting…then it will sleep and recover for the next week or so. Almost as impressive as a lion’s mating habits – every 15 minutes for 3 days straight!! Of course, he only lasts around 5 seconds, so….quality over quantity?

Then we saw hippos!! Adult hippos can weigh up to 4 tonnes – the size of a large elephant (but much shorter). That’s bull! Oops, I mean, that’s a bull hippo… They are the most dangerous animal in Africa (in terms of humans killed) for a few basic reasons:

- They can’t back up, so if a person is in front of them, the hippo will walk right over it.

- Hippos give very few warning signs when they are feeling threatened, and blend in the water so well, that boaters can drift right among them without realizing they are pissing the hippos off.

- Sufficient jaw strength to bite an adult crocodile in half!

Adult hippos don’t have any predators other than humans. Are you surprised?

Continuing our trek:

Rumours are this is a target for the males….

….and here we have McDonald’s for lions. See the golden arches (well…dark brown…)?

Somehow, giraffes can hide fairly well…until you finally spot them.

This bird kills snakes by ‘dancing’ in front of them with outstretched wings. The snake strikes at the wing feathers, and the unharmed bird kills the snake with its feet.

This is just kind of funny. We left our room in a mess – clothes on the floor, bed all apart….. This is what we found when we returned:

Sadly, we had to leave Kariega and head on our way to Plett. The animals weren’t content to see us go, however, and some baboons were hanging out on the highway waiting for us! (No photo, sadly….driving too fast and nowhere safe to turn around…)

Uneventfully, we made our way to Plett, and settled in to our beautiful beach house on the ocean. Actually, not entirely uneventfully. At one point, we had to stop for construction. One of the workers walked up and began speaking to us in Africaans. That’s right! We were mistaken for locals!! :)

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