Good old Johnny Cash pulled through for us today as we literally walked the line. We walked and walked and walked and we were in a straight line all day. The day couldn’t have been any better though. Let me just say, what happened to us today is something that is extremely rare. People will come for three days on something like this and not see half of the animals we did. We were so incredibly lucky to have seen what we saw and we can’t wait to share it with you!!!
Wake up was at 5:30 this morning, which caused a few moans of disapproval, but the sunrise over the horizon made it worth it. We sat and had coffee as we listened to the sounds of the wilderness around us. We were surrounded by movement and noises this morning, and it felt like we could hear things from miles away. We sat listening to the elephants tearing down bushes, hyena sounds in the distance and lions roaring at each other probably fighting over their kill from the previous night. It was unbelievably cool! That was only the beginning too.
We started walking with our guides Peter and Manayte around 6:30. No joke, within ten minutes of tracking elephant tracks, we found them feeding on trees and leaves in the bush. We hid for awhile watching them go about their business and uproot trees as if they were picking up a plate. The raw power and fluid movement of their trunk and body is astounding to watch.
After we were finished watching, we set off again looking for the other female herd of elephants. We came upon some really interesting things like porcupine needles spread across the ground, a dung beetle nest dug up by an anteater, another dung beetle sifting through elephant dung and making a perfectly round ball of poop and all kinds of different types of birds and insects. It’s so different being on foot because you get to see all of these little animals and insects that we all find as interesting and amusing to watch as the big and hairy creatures. It’s amazing how each animal lives and what it does to survive.
Pretty soon, Peter saw a glimpse of something in the distance and immediately changed course to get closer. Sure enough, it was a lioness roaming around in the open. Then, we saw two of them! Finally, we saw lions!!! Since they were awake and alert, we couldn’t sneak up on them because their far to smart for that and they would run off as soon as they heard us. Instead, Peter said it would be better if we show ourselves and see if we can get closer without them hiding away or charging. We got fairly close, but one of them was a little unsettled by our presence so we didn’t push the envelope too much with them. We didn’t want to become their afternoon snack either, right? We were all so excited to see them that we were silently jumping and celebrating.
That was a perfect leeway into lunch and we took a well-deserved break in the shade and ate. We were off again soon after that. We didn’t know what Peter was tracking, but we were onto something very quickly. We were weaving through some trees and a pretty open area when Peter stopped suddenly. He held up his hand and waved us back vigorously. We had no idea what was ahead, but we all stood perfectly still and quiet, eager to see what we found. Then, out of nowhere a black rhino came charging up the hill towards us. We all certainly wanted to pick up and bolt away, but we were told never to do that, so we stayed calm and stood our ground. Luckily, it was only a mock charge for the rhino to get a better look at what was headed towards his sleeping area. Peter just made a noise to let him know we were there and he ran off. I swear my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest, as I think did everyone’s. It was a crazy experience! How many people can say they’ve been that close to a black rhino? Not many! Sorry, no pictures to share of that because it all happened so fast!
As we unwound from that event, we were walking downhill when something else in the bush caught our attention. It was a herd of buffalo grazing and drinking from the watering hole. Now, buffalo have a very good sense of smell, sight and hearing, so we had to stay extremely quiet and hidden so they wouldn’t see us. We snuck up on them and watched them up close. They’re such weird looking animals, I’ll tell you that! It was a herd of males, so they were all big and strong. The wind changed on us suddenly and as soon as it did, we heard one of them grunting and marking his territory. He knew we were there. He came around the tree where we were hiding to take a look at us. He just stood there and stared us down, so we left as not to bother them much more. Walking around some more we got to see another herd of buffalo cross our paths. There was a little baby with them too!
If that wasn’t enough, on our way home, we spotted some goofy giraffes and hung out with them while we waiting for a car to come get us. I’m pretty sure we walked about ten miles today. No joke, it took us a ten minute car ride just to get back. If you can believe it or not, on our way back on the car, we were about to turn into the gate when three massive white rhinos came charging across the road in front of the vehicle! I honestly don’t think any of us imagined today would be this way, but it was more than incredible. Out of this world is probably a better description. We saw four out of the five big five animals today. Leopards are hardly ever seen anyway too! Needless to say, we’re all going to bed awestruck, exhausted and happy.
We can’t believe we have two more days of this! Our minds are blown!!
More updates to come,