While we were visiting Antelope Park we had the unexpected privilege to spend time with Disa, Dala, and Dingane - three chubby little bundles of fluff that were still wobbly on their feet and could barely squeak out their little eowwws.
Author Archives: kim
Our first outing with the 2MZeds was a training walk to learn how to safely interact with the lions. It was just a bit ironic that it immediately followed our walk with Dendi and Damara, where we witnessed a heart pounding standoff between the 2Ds and a herd of buffalo, and were ordered to run as fast as our legs could move us.
Prior to our arrival at Lion Encounter we heard tales of volunteers on lion walks running for their lives from herds of buffalo and elephants, sometimes climbing trees for safety. While this sounded very exciting, and not just a little scary, I tried to recall the last time I'd climbed a tree. When my memory drew a blank I realized I'm not sure I ever have climbed a tree, and I tried to assure myself that if I were to find myself in a similar situation adrenaline would see me through.
Although I left my heart in Africa last year a part of it now resides in Thailand, a country I've never been to, as I follow the day-to-day progression of events at two internationally respected wildlife sanctuaries. The Elephant Nature Park (ENP), and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), have been repeatedly raided by armed government officials from the Department of National Parks (DNP) in what appears to be retaliatory actions for statements made by ENP and WFFT decrying the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, and the Thai government's suspected complicity.
Getaway Magazine has invited Africa or Bust! to be contributing blog writers for their wonderful travel blog, and to share some of the stories, advice, and lessons learned from our honeymoon travels in Africa.
We haven't seen a family pride yet - until now. Camouflaged within the grass we see some movement, and then one by one a whole family appears: one male, two females, and eight beautiful cubs! Craig reflexively eeowws at the little cubs, and one of the younger ones eeowws back and starts heading towards the truck. I turn to Craig and say, "I'm calling them the Honeymoon Pride!"
Craig and I acknowledge that there are some things here that we're not entirely happy about, and there are some things that are just simply different from what we've known these past couple of weeks. But that was the point of this part of our trip. It wasn't meant to be the same as the first part of our trip; it was meant to be intentionally different. We're settling into a groove here at Elephant Plains: outstanding wildlife viewing, delicious food, a luxurious room, spa treatments. Really, what's not to like?
It feels terribly awkward, and Craig and I are really uncomfortable. You're far enough away from the other guests that you can't really have a conversation with them, and yet you're in a group setting and it feels like you're supposed to socialize. The fire in the middle of our circle, combined with all of us looking across at each other, makes me feel like I'm on a reality TV show and that there is going to be a vote to decide which one of us is going to be thrown into the fire pit. We feel like we're on display; like we're being watched. You might say we feel like the animals do when a safari vehicle drives by.
Amai has a good gig going on. As she's walking, she picks up branches, grass, and rocks with her trunk, and flings her trunk back to us offering whatever she's picked up from the ground as a gift. Of course, the gift is offered with the expectation that she will get one in return in the form of a treat. So the handler takes the rock or branch and then gives her some feed, and a few times I get to put the feed into her trunk, too. I am completely charmed by her antics and am grinning from ear to ear.
When we get back to camp, it looks like the staff are getting ready for some big shindig on the main lawn. There are banners up, tables out with AP swag, the Ingonyama dancers are waiting in the wings, the staff are dressed up in their best khakis, and the elephants are wandering around. Elephants? We've never seen them in camp before. This must be something really big.