Here in South Africa, the extended lockdown seems to be making many of us feel like a pile of this. With no real end in sight as to how much longer we will have to be in isolation, I thought that I would invite you, my reader, to enjoy a virtual day in the bush with me.
To quote Mary Poppins…”Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”…
Pack a virtual suitcase and let us head out on a virtual highway out of your urban surroundings and back into the bush. And the beauty of this trip, seeing you are not leaving your home, you will not have to worry about police roadblocks and huge fines for non-compliance.
This roadside toilet offers a view second to none. A monument to the absurdity of human nature, it is locked and seems to serve no real purpose as there is no community nearby to make use of it.
Time to unpack your suitcase when you reach your destination. You do remember what a suitcase is used for? One of the advantages of this COVID-19 lockdown is that I don’t need to pack in order to travel. Packing has always been the least pleasant of my pre-trip activities as I invariably forget one item no matter how many lists I write or how carefully I check. My biggest ‘mistake’ was leaving not one but BOTH my camera battery chargers at home when I headed off to Istanbul. Trying to find even one proved to be a pointless exercise and I had to learn to shoot less and actually enjoy my surroundings in real-time, rather than through a view-finder.
Time to head out on an early morning game drive. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues through winter, then we as guests to the bush might well miss those freezing winter mornings…not a bad thing either. Especially if you are travelling in the Eastern Cape!
An African sunrise…what better way to start a virtual safari?
The one aspect that I can guarantee on this outing is that you WILL get to see some of the more elusive species. It is not always about those ‘tick-off-a-list’ sightings, but often about the unexpected ones…like this young cheetah pretending it can fly. Also, you can take your time and enjoy this sighting…you are not going to be rushed to the next one.
But, game drives should not focus on Big 5 sightings. Stop and marvel at this large female Golden Orb spider as she gathers food in her web.
FYI: The silk that is used in this web has a tensile strength that exceeds steel of a similar diameter.
Do not dismiss Impala sightings. Even though they are plentiful and often ignored as a result, they have an innate beauty that almost demands attention. And if you find a herd early in the morning, all the animals that you see have made it through a night filled with lurking predators and the ever-present threat of death.
This is the only place that a rhino horn deserves to be…on the nose of a rhino. But still, this mammal teeters on the brink of possible extinction due to the fact that poachers are still being paid to supply the horn to the faceless few that control the illicit trade in both rhino horn and other animal parts.
When you return from a morning game drive and THIS is waiting for you. There is nothing that a plate of bacon and eggs cannot resolve. And it has to be crispy bacon and more than 3 slices.
After relaxing at the lodge for most of the day, it is time to head out on an afternoon drive. It looks like this hippo was waiting to turn us into a meal. This particular animal was on a mission to chase us away from the dam where he had taken up residence.
Late afternoon sunlight plays on this grass species. Just take a moment to enjoy the quiet beauty that they offer.
Doing a dance? This elephant was showing off its moves without being threatening. However, as will all interactions with wild animals, you have to be respectful of their space as well as cognizant of their mood.
And finally…a drive that delivered an animal that I had waited 53 years to see in the wild. I got to spend 90 minutes with this Pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world. Not only are its scales utilized in traditional medicine, but its meat is eaten both in Africa and Asia. This sighting was back in November 2019, and I still cannot believe that I finally found my ‘unicorn’.
All the colours of the rainbow? Not quite, but more than enough to enjoy during an evening sun-downer stop.
Did you know that if you shine a black-light on a scorpion it glows like this? The entire animal glows and scientists have no idea why. So, if you think you are alone in your accommodation, think again.
What better way to end of a day in the bush than to sit around a crackling fire swooping stories and experiences?
The night sky over a lodge in KZN. One of my favourite places to be and hopefully, once this is all over, I will be able to return there and once again marvel at the vast open skies, unencumbered by the wash of city lights.
I am currently in lockdown in Johannesburg, luckily in a suburb that has more in common with a small South African town than a large urban metropolis. I am truly grateful that I have a home office/study/man-cave to work from. I do hope that you have enjoyed this virtual safari with Travel & Things and will return for more soon.
Soon a new feature will be added to Travel & Things. A series of Zoom interviews with a variety of participants from within and outside the travel industry. Watch this space for the guest list that will be posted on the Travel & Things Facebook page shortly…
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