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Monthly Archives: August 2010
Thirst comes first.
Silent paws pad down the dirt road, leaving perfect prints. Leopard prints. Warren has picked up the trail of this most elusive cat. It appears to be a male, heading for water. Our eyes scan ahead for the flash of his tail tip. Nothing. Still, my pulse quickens as I flick the video camera onto standby. Leopards are among the rarest of game drive diamonds. We approach the dam slowly, spotlight sweeping from side to side.
The rustle of passing leaves whispers that someone has snuck from view. But we’re focussed forward. Rounding the road’s last bend, we see him! Cutting the engine, we coast closer for a more intimate look. Not too close, preserving the dignity of his personal space. Our frail human faculties can’t detect his scent, although the reverse seems true. Muscles bunch beneath his sleek spots, anticipating action. This is the way at waterholes. Encounters with other creatures are on the cards. After all, Thirst waits for no-one.
Quotes to consider:
“You should not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst.” – William Langewiesche
“Kissing is like drinking salted water: you drink and your thirst increases” – Chinese Proverb
“Good as drink is, it ends in thirst.” – Irish Proverb
“They talk of my drinking but never my thirst” – Scottish Proverb
“Thirst will parch your tongue and your body will waste through lack of sleep ere you can describe in words that which painting instantly sets before the eye” – Leonardo da Vinci
While reminiscing about the Sabi Sand reserve, and taking a cue from that last quote, I simply have to share a few more of Dave’s photo’s with you. These are from another spectacular sighting at Londolozi, legendary playground of South African leopards. We followed this female for a magical hour or more, before she leapt up a tree:
In videography terms, we call those shots ‘simple reveals’. Now for the ‘wide establisher’:
Don’t you just love her body language, delightfully draped in her natural vantage point?
- South Africa Beyond World Cup Football and Vuvuzelas – Best Vacation Destinations (hotelclub.com)
- Ebony Lodge at the Singita Game Reserve: The Armchair Safari (luxist.com)
- Soccer and Safari – A True Taste of Africa (globalthoughtz.com)
- Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition Retreats (apartmenttherapy.com)
- BBC4 ‘Wonderful Africa Season’ (audleyblog.com)
This blogging world is super cool. What a great way to discover new things and interact with awesome people around the world. Last week, we were horrified to learn about the fatbooth iPhone app, which appallingly adds weight to an ordinary mug shot. This was thanks to an excellent post by Agrigirl: It’s Only Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt. Take a look – honestly, seeing is believing! Tammy mentioned more apps, inspiring me to investigate and, quite frankly, take my iPhone more seriously 🙂
My number one app, though, is Sasol eBirds. Dave, being my personal techno-wiz, loaded it for me (if it weren’t for him, I’d have an ancient Nokia). So, if I’m feeling like a bush fix in the middle of Jo’burg, I simply tap in, close my eyes and listen to a few calls. Within a virtual moment, I’m lounging in the luxury of the African wild. Of course, when literally there, we have the bonus of identifying birds and reading all about them.
Or even engaging in conversation, such as recently at Welgevonden. A Mocking Cliff-chat (impressive bird knowledge courtesy of our friends who are accomplished birders) took a shine to the lodge bar. Whipping out the iPhones, we returned its warbling (“loud, melodious mixture of mimicked bird song”). It’s so delightful that I’m going to share it with you – via my iPhone, Sasol eBirds app, and Wordpress’ brilliant Post by Voice feature 🙂
But first, here’s a picture:
Now, for the audio of all three . . . ENJOY!
- Botswana: Safari Under Cover (audleytravel.com)
- The Caprivi Strip (audleytravel.com)
- Picture Perfect [Snap Judgment] (jezebel.com)
- Troubleshooting: iTunes Could Not Backup the iPhone (brighthub.com)
- Rumor: Apple to Pick Qualcomm for CDMA iPhone (cultofmac.com)
Trust = Treasure
A temporary home from home, Losoloago Pan shimmers her welcome. Oppressive desert heat drives us straight to our freezer, emerging with cans of half-frozen mango juice. Stretching, we soak it in, along with the silence. Like shrugging into a familiar shirt, we begin the process of unpacking. Some way off, the silhouette of a Spotted Hyena, less hairy than its Brown brother, lopes behind bushes. We know from last time that both may be about, unusual as it is for their territories to overlap. They’ll visit later no doubt, when the flames of our fire begin reaching for the stars.
The gurgling of a Hornbill catches our attention. Dave is ready, aiming his Nikon into the overhanging thorn tree, which provides scant shade for our rooftop tent. Not to be upstaged, a Francolin scampers towards his feet, followed by some Ground Squirrels. They’re shy at first, growing bolder when we offer little bits of bread. Teeny paws pull our hands closer, light as the brush of eyelashes to cheeks. Never before have we interacted this intimately. Tentative, but determined, they test the limits of Trust. The pleasure, of course, is entirely ours.
Quotes to consider:
“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – George MacDonald
“Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough” – Frank Crane
Here are some more images to illustrate the scene:
- Botswana: Safari Under Cover (audleytravel.com)
- Botswana High Court denies Kalahari’s indigenous Bushmen water rights in their homeland (foxnews.com)
- Taking a punt on the polers of Botswana’s Okavango delta (guardian.co.uk)
Grace = Gift
We call it ‘Big Sky Country’, the Central Kalahari. Somehow the horizon seems more expansive. Parked alongside a pan in Passarge Valley, we contemplate the meeting point of Heaven and Earth. Mesmerized, we forget to sip our nicely chilled drinks and nibble on the cashew nuts. Regal Gemsbuck drift nearby, quietly crunching the rough grass. Further away, a Ground Squirrel family frolics above its burrows. We’re done filming them. That was exclusive to Golden Hour. Maybe they’ll humour us again in the morning.
Light lingers solely in the sky, gone from the sand. The first rumble of far-off roaring reaches our ears. Warm up for the hunt. Anticipation tingles through the evening air, tempered by a peculiar peace. ‘I have a theory,’ Dave murmurs. ‘It’s almost as if the animals enter a trance-like state, accepting that one of them will go down.’ He’s right, I muse. Predator and prey appear to share a primordial pact. Premeditated panic knows no place here. Only Grace.
Quotes to consider:
“I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” – Wendell Berry
“Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
“We cannot go faster than grace…If God will not go ahead with us, we must wait and go with God.” – Marcia Hollis
This is how the Gemsbuck looked a little earlier:
GEMSBUCK HERD – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Journey = Joy
‘Gearbox’. Not for nothing is it named that. Gnarliest road on the reserve, it snakes steeply up the side of a spectacular valley. As we approach, I engage my core, calling on my inner yogi to straighten my spine. It’s one of the ways I maximise the pleasure of being in the bush. Along with breathing deeply. And looking for little things among the magnificent. Pulling aside to let another vehicle pass, we spot a Chameleon. The feather touch of its feet feels like love on our skin.
Further on, a Kudu bull leaps across our path, the heaviness of his horns tilting his head. Chattering Monkeys peep from treetops, sending a Warthog bolting from beneath. It kicks up the scent of faintly bruised bushes. As we stop and start, warm air contrasts with cold wind on our faces. A mystical moon begins to rise. The main gift of the game drive is its focus on the moment. There is no destination. Instead we return to the same place we started, each experience unique. All the Joy is wrapped up in the Journey.
Quotes to consider:
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Basho
“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” – Tim Cahill
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end” – Ursula K. LeGuin
As an afterthought . . . here’s a pic of the little guy:
CHAMELEON – Welgevonden, Waterberg, South Africa
Several things happen simultaneously:
. . . and Dave calmly fires off a sensational sequence, hand-held from our roof rack:
I don’t know how my husband does it, but there you go 🙂
He shot this near the Khwai River Lodge, just North of Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. No, we weren’t doing the five star thing, rather the real bush deal, camping at the Khwai Development Trust site just up the drag. Thereby hang a whole lot more tales, but we’ll save them for another day.
Our friends in the Prado had inadvertently come between the elephant and the water. Never a good idea. They got off fine, albeit shaken and stirred!
A few years back, Dave and I were privileged to meet Lewis Pugh, most famous for being ‘The Human Polar Bear’. What a phenomenal, compelling man, who is harnessing his unique talent for the greater good. Most recently to lobby world leaders about global warming. He took on the Himalayas, learning that Mount Everest is not to be bullied, but rather treated with quiet respect. Much like the man himself.
Managing to raise his body’s core temperature with his mind, he is able to swim in freezing water, clad only in a speedo. The Himalayan stint in May was 1 km long at 2 degrees C. To find out more about this amazing feat, read about it on Lewis’ website: My Latest Expedition and watch Carte Blanche’s video: Carte Blanche: Lewis Pugh (Part 2).
Lewis’ message? “Conservation of the environment is no longer their problem or my problem but our problem.” Himalayan glaciers provide around 2 billion people with constant water, defying the thought of what might happen if they melt. Almost a third of humanity may be affected as radically as our threatened polar bears. You can see more about the Arctic issue on this stunning site: A Beautiful Lie.
Although polar bears don’t occur naturally here, we had a close encounter once at the Johannesburg Zoo, when Dave helped to clean their pool. Here are a few pics, just for fun. Note that, unlike Lewis, the divers all wore wetsuits!
SORTING COINS FROM THE POOL