21 October 2007

Viva Safaris - days three and four

Day Three - 17/09-2007

Another full-day game drive on the agenda! This wasn't on the original schedule, but no big deal. As long as we got to do what we paid to do (or more) then we were open to schedule shifts...

It was cooler and windier this time, and in addition to most of what we saw yesterday, we saw lions – a big male and three lionesses. They were 50 m.away from our vehicle, lying under a tree being lazy. I don't blame them one bit. They were probably wondering why we weren't chilling out under a tree...

Today's theme was "animals crossing the road."

zebra crossing

There were elephants crossing the road. And impalas. And zebras (zebra crossing hah! I'm so original!). And impala. Can't forget the impala ;-)

Speaking of impala, they were nicknamed «McDonald's» because of the "M" on their bums...

Tonight's dinner was pea soup and then spaghetti with salad. It was very good.

Day Four - 18/09-2007
We started with a morning game drive. I was excited as I saw several eagles and some mystery owls (not sure what kind they are – perhaps scops?), but as for other animals, there weren't too many out. The park itself, a private game reserve, was very nice...

mystery owl II

We then had lunch at Cheetah Inn, which is the conference center part of Viva Safaris. The decor was, well, "interesting," and played on a cheetah theme. We all just had to chuckle. My lunch – piri-piri chicken with vegetables and rice, washed down with Windhoek Draft, was quite nice.

After lunch, we went to the Cheetah Project at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. They rehabilitate cheetahs and other animals. We started the tour watching a 20 minute DVD about cheetahs in general, with a few blurbs about the center. There were some blurbs about poaching. This really upset me. People really suck sometimes :-/

After the DVD we drove through the park to see cheetahs close-up, as well as a few other big cats. We also drove to a "vulture restaurant" to observe the action; this is an area where the big cats' scraps are thrown. The vultures (and Marabou stork) are guaranteed a poison-free meal. Unfortunately, a lot of people put out poisoned meat to kill predators, and then vultures eat the dead predators and get the poison in them :-( Anyway, I like how nothing is wasted – the scraps from the cats go to the vultures, and then the resulting bones are ground into powder to mix into the cats' food, to give them extra calcium.

One of the neatest things we saw was the interaction between wild ground hornbills and two captive hornbills. The wild hornbills would give the captive hornbills food, in exchange for rocks. Or was it the other way around? No matter; I just found it quite interesting. Ground hornbills make a really interesting sound by the way... just listen!

Other cool things that we saw – a spotted eagle owl (and I saw it first!) and a baby nyala that was no more than a week old!

When we got back to our treehouse, it was still daylight, and the others at the camp were still out on their game drive. We spent the rest of the afternoon washing clothes; we only took clothes for 5 days or so to cut down on luggage weight/clutter. So we borrowed a big plastic wash tub from the treehouse staff, and with Biotex and water from the shower we were in good washing action. We had to hang things up to dry inside the treehouse, even though it would have been preferable to hang them outside and get that «fresh air» smell. If we hung our clothes up outside, the vervet monkeys would have had a go at everything. Imagine – the alpha male running around with my underwear on his head OOH OOH OOOOH AAAAAH!

Anyway, while the clothes were soaking, I went out of the treehouse to take a peek, There were giraffes in the vicinity! How cool is that?! And of course, as usual, the camp was crawling with nyalas...

giraffes at Marc's Tree House Lodge

Tonight's dinner was butternut soup, followed by chicken with potatoes, rice, salad, and sauce. We learned that another group who were out on their full-day game drive saw, among other things, lions mating!

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