Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday, 7/8

Another fabulous day in Africa! It was still dark when we departed the Mweya Safari Lodge, headed out on a game watch. The spacious and comfortable Land Rover (seats 7 comfortably and we were only 5) had it's roof raised so that we could stand and keep a sharp eye out for game. Things began slowly - the first photo we took was of the rising sun, coming up through clouds that resembled mountains, so it looked like a red orb spewing out of a volcano. After one or two false alarms, we spotted a water buck; an elk-like creature with ringed horns and powerful shoulders. It is hard to believe that such a magnificent animal has anything to fear. In fact, it wasn't the least bit spooked by us, although it was quite accommodating, standing to get a better look at us, and in turn giving us a better look at him. Warthogs began to appear everywhere, then cobs, then an elephant and her calf! And we hadn't even left the compound yet! Soon we did though, crossing over into the open savannah where animals abounded. In the distance was a hippo! So far from water we pondered? Martin tells us the will range up to 5 kilometers inland of water. We happened upon a couple of carcasses that were stripped relatively clean, but there remained evidence that this was a relatively recent kill (i.e. there was still meat on the bones and the internal organs were splashed off to the side!). We did not take photos.

On the way back, we encountered several elephants: some young 'uns and a couple of adults. The largest who was in the road, ambled over to the side, let loose some gas, bulled into the bush, turned around and called for an adolescent that we hadn't seen. Undoubtedly Dad said "Come along, nothing to worry about. It's one of those beasts that's full of humans." Pam has it on video which we shall try to post.

Back to the lodge for a late but delicious breakfast, followed by some rest for the weary. At 3:00 we were on board the river boat which took us up and down the channel for unbelievably close looks at hippos, cape buffalo, crocodiles, and a dozen or so elephants. The elephants I must say are the most magnificent creatures of all. Several of them were on a graded cliff making there way to the summit, having bathed and drunk water. Imagine pushing 6 tons of weight up that hill! Hippos and cape buffalo appear to get along quite well, both enjoying the water in close quarters with no squabbles at all. We came upon a fishing village, shelter high upon a hill with open rolling landscape down to the river, where kids bathed (some au naturel) in the presence of hippos and buffalo. Wait a minute! I thought they said these were dangerous animals! Hard to figure, but a surreal scene nonetheless. Back in the lodge at 5:30 with our spectacular view from on high of the lake channel. Tomorrow early we are off to another part of Queen Elizabeth Park, where we will reside in tents and see lions sleeping in trees. Our thoughts are with you all, family and friends stateside and those in the other groups who are charting different paths. The largest group: Cindy, David, Debra, Gary, Linda, Kate, and Chris are due here tomorrow, and may be coming from where we are heading. Debbie and Katya we are unsure about their itinerary. All of us minus Barbara and Wayne (whom we will meet at the airport) will rendez-vous on Thursday night.

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