More and more and more rain came our way last night as we slept. We so need it here. It was dryer than the sahara desert out here before this storm, and we were scraping by with so little water that we had extreme water restrictions implemented. While it’s good for the area, it made us very wet again today. We also had a very early day today. Yikes! 4:45 was our wake up call. It was so early!!
Despite the daunting time, we were all pretty awake when we came down for coffee and breakfast. We were pumped to see more animals in a massive game reserve today! The guys hup-twoed (if that’s even a word) to help Bertie change a flat tire too! What good gentlemen!!
It was hard saying goodbye to Somkhanda today. Everyone had such an amazing time there in the park. We bonded over the fire, games, rain and funny happenings and we saw some unforgettable things. We also helped the community out with the cattle crush along the way, and made some great memories together! Thanks for everything Somkhanda, and we’ll see you next time!
Then we were off again! We were going to Hluhluwe (pronounced shlushluwie with a little lisp at the beginning), which is a big five game reserve. That means it holds all the animals apart of the big five including buffalo, elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards. They have about 960 square kilometers of open land that holds one of the largest populations of animals in Africa. They have almost every type of African animal you can imagine there! It also has a huge amount of rhinos. We can’t possibly see it all in one day, but we had the best guides in the business (Richard, Bertie and Ben 10) to guide us in the right direction. Some of us who hadn’t seen a rhino yet were so eager to see one and were hoping for much more throughout the day.
The rain was coming down hard today, as I mentioned before, and even though we properly prepared ourselves, it was wetter than wet. The drive soaked us well and good right off the bat, but everyone was in great spirits! When we arrived at the park, it did clear up for awhile and that helped immensely.
As we entered the park, we were hungry for some cool sightings. We all split off in different directions with the plan to meet back for lunch. Somehow, though, as we all drove around, we saw the same things. First, we spotted some zebras and giraffes extremely close to the road. They didn’t even run away from us, so we were able to snap some awesome photos! We also saw some kudu, impala, nyala, and loads of birds.
We also saw a Hadeda Ibis, which is cool looking but it has the most annoying birdcall ever. It caws really loud and elongated, so it always seems to wake you up in the morning or at night. It was very cool to see though!
Then came the big whammy! We finally saw rhinos!!!! There was a mother and a baby white rhino grazing along the road. We saw rhinos a few times today too. I can’t even explain how excited Will, Shelby and Cheleigh were because they hadn’t seen one yet. It’s great we got to check that one off the list! Yayyy!!!
Then, we were driving along and we saw elephants from a distance on a hill. We rushed to get a closer look over top when we noticed a few cars stopped next to a watering hole. There were about 25 elephants drinking, playing and splashing each other with water. They were all sorts of different ages too!
Because elephants have a matriarchal structure, the alpha female led the group followed by younger females with calves, young males and females coming of age and even a couple babies!! They walked across the road in front of us, weaved around all the cars and went about their business. They were so incredibly close to us it was ridiculous! We were amazed by how they went along without noticing us hardly at all. There was one time where the alpha female looked right at all of us and started walking towards us. She got to be about 3 meters away from the car before it was a bit too close for comfort and we backed away. Apparently, she was protecting her calf while walking across the road. It was the coolest thing ever!!! We are so lucky to have seen something like this up close. We were awestruck.
After that, it was time for lunch. We were all starving since we ate so early. Plus, the rain had found its way back and was now making us cold and wet again. It was time for a break and to dry off. We went to a new place for lunch today where there was some shelter and a little crafts market too. Boy that place was dangerous. We bought a lot of stuff. Woopsie! There were loads of African themed art, jewelry, bowls, carvings, tapestries, etc. We could’ve stayed there for hours looking at all the trinkets they had. It was all so beautiful, and most of us ended up buying lots of things. At least most of it is gifts for our loved ones though! We also had a nice little photo shoot up there!
At lunch, we took a vote on what we wanted to do next. We decided to go out for another hour or so and then see how we were feeling about heading to St. Lucia. Good thing we did too because right after lunch, we ran into a massive heard of about 75 buffalo! That’s three out of the big five we saw today! Wowza!!
Well that didn’t last long… We shivered for another 30 minutes driving around then all of a sudden, the clouds became really ominous. Then came the torrential downpour. It was crazy. At that point, we called it quits and took off out of the park. As much as we wanted to stay to try and see more, there was no point in it because the animals were probably hiding from the rain anyway. Plus, there’s no use in having anyone get sick in Africa! We rushed as quickly and safely as we could to the lovely town of St. Lucia and got there in no time.
We had keys and hot showers awaiting us, and you bet we took full advantage of it! We also had the afternoon to hang out and have some R&R after than early and wet morning. Tonight is our first night in town, and we are all keen to check out the shops and restaurants here. We plan to make the most of our free time this weekend and see as much around here as possible! We are so excited!!
All in all, it was well worth the crazy rain today to see some incredible sights. The memory of doing a game drive in the rain will definitely go down in our memories as a unique experience. There’s so much more to come too! We are so happy we have a whole week with this group because it gives us even more time to have laughs and fun times together. We can’t wait!
Until tomorrow everyone,
Cipo and S’penqueque (Ben and Tara)