Hey. Time to wake up.
Dark? Of course it's dark. It's a quarter after five.
You're on vacation and you want to sleep in? First lesson about Africa: there is no such thing as sleeping in when you're here to go on safari.
Now, get up. Security will be here to collect us in a few minutes. Why? Because we aren't allowed outside during the dark hours. Lions, Cape buffalo, hippos, leopards, snakes, that's why. Didn't you hear the lions last night?
Listen, be glad you're in a unattached cottage. If you were in an attached cottage like I was at Kirkman's Kamp, Marg would have been here an hour ago to see if you could hear the lions roaring. I agree, it's a wonderful sound.
C'mon. Five minutes to coffee or tea and rusks. Mmmm. But here at Phinda Private Game Refuge, the rusks are shortbread!
We need to be out there while it's still dark. Of course you can't see anything in the dark. The point is to be in position when the light begins. Best light of the day in the first hour.
Look. This is from last year in Kenya. This is why we get up and out there early.
|A kori bustard at sunrise.|
Now, isn't this worth getting up early for? There are several fever trees around this pond.
Why are they called fever trees? Well, when the Europeans began colonizing the bushveld, they naturally built around water sources. After a while, they were struck down with fevers and chills, and sometimes convulsions and death.
They blamed it on pollen from the smooth green-barked trees and started calling them "fever trees." Ironically, they were actually sick from malaria which was carried by mosquitoes that bred in the waters, and the tree roots and bark contained ingredients that could have helped them.
Dreamy, isn't it?
|The proper name for fever trees is thirty miles long, so it's shortened to|
Early morning is a good time to find birds and the golden rays produce such warm photos.
|This little bird is a rattling cisticola.|
One thing about going out in the early morning is you have to watch carefully where you're going....
....for speed bumps in the road.
Why did the crested guineafowl cross the road?
So the photographer couldn't get an in-focus shot of a moving target.
There are times when it's best to cede the right of way, especially when it's to a Cape Buffalo. They are highly unpredictable and, with the hippopotamus coming in first, kill a number of people every year. That's why they're call the Black Death.
Moving out of their way is smart when they can stand six feet high and weigh 1750 lbs.
|See that little bird on its back? That bird might never set foot on the ground, but live on animals all its life. They pick the insects out of the animals's coat and mucous membranes. Works for the animal, too.|
Ah, now here are my favorite of the antelope--the kudus.
Here's something you rarely see--a giraffe lying down. They're pretty vulnerable in that position.
Watch when you're around the water. This bird is the ubiquitous Egyptian goose.
Isn't this a pretty place?
Watch the bushes as we drive past. You never know what might be peeking out.
And don't forget to look overhead, too.
Back at Zuka Lodge for breakfast.
Let's take the gear to the bungalow... Hang onto one camera, though.
Say hello to the two-tailed... I don't what it is. Maybe a Cape dwarf gecko. Say hello anyway.
Nope, nope, no time for a nap. You don't want to mess up the bed, do you?
This spread is just for starters! They'll take your individual order too. That's Holly and Laura, and Marg is on this side. I'm sitting next to her, so you can sit on this end.
The biscuit is divine. PASSION FRUIT! Where have you been all my life?
|These house sparrows were luncheon guests.|
So, here's the deal. After breakfast, you can take a nap, download your photos, recharge the camera batteries, and so on. We skip lunch because we eat breakfast so late.
Marg is always working on the deck and you can ask her questions about photography or Adobe Lightroom. Take your camera with you, because you never know what might show up at the waterhole.
|There's a warthog family.|
|And some nyala.|
|Very curious, aren't they?|
This is a snack before we go out on the late afternoon drive. We'll be out until after dark, to catch that last hour of golden light.
So here we are out in the field again, mid-afternoon. Why don't we go out right after breakfast or lunch? Too hot, the light's too harsh for photos, and the animals are usually hiding in the shade.
Telusi says this bull elephant is heading to the lake for a swim.
This is the lake he'd going to.
Here's another fever tree.
And another one--a big one.
Whoa-ho! A white rhino. Yeah, I know it really isn't white. The "white" comes from the Dutch word for "wide" and it refers to the rhino's upper lip. The black rhino, which is pretty scarce, has a triangular-shaped lip.
You can see that this rhino has been dehorned. They do that in the hope poachers won't kill them if they have no horns.
It does, however, mean they can't protect their young from predators. That makes the mother a bit skittish.
I'll tell you, the eyes of a cheetah when the late afternoon sunset strikes them--mesmerizing!
Flat cats. That's what photographers call cats that are lying down and not doing anything interesting.
This female has three cubs that's she's struggling to raise. Cheetahs are so endangered. Lions, buffalo, and hyenas will kill the cubs.
They have their eyes on some warthogs in the distance, but it's unlikely the mother will chase those speedy little things.
Yep, warthogs off in the distance.
Oh, now they're looking in a different direction. Maybe we should look behind us.
Yikes. Another rhino.
The sun is starting to go down. Time to wander back towards camp.
Hey, here's that bull elephant, fresh from its bath. Now it's coating itself with dirt and dust. It does that to protect its hide from insects and sunburn.
|Look at its temple. See that dark line? That's drainage from a gland there. That means this bull is in musth and ready to breed. It also means we will keep our distance, so use your long lens.|
And there he goes.
I wonder what's for dinner tonight?
|Oh, maybe steak and veggies?|
What's this? It's beautiful. We're dining outside by fire and lamp light. How cool.
|Roast potatoes and yams.|
|Oh, my goodness. Roast pork with cracklings.|
And now, you can get some sleep--after you download and charge batteries, and get your stuff ready for a quick departure tomorrow morning, and take a bath.
And that's what it's like to be on safari in Africa.