Flying South Africa Safari Trip (Part 2)

Gideon shared with us on this Africa safari trip that to be one with the animals you have to do certain things in the bush, so he stopped and showed us elephant dung and then to become 'one with the elephant' he got a few off guard by 'eating' part of an excreted fiber.

School kids in South Africa

Table of Contents
Vredefort Dome
To Bongani
Wildlife at Bongani
Typical Day
More Wildlife
Rock Art
Visit to a Local School
My Soul Was Fed In Africa
South Africa Safari Reviews

Continued from part 1 of Candy's South Africa Safari trip...

Friday, March 24th, 2006

We all review the weather for flying, and Deon of African Flying Safaris calls for weather. We end up fueling at Parys and wait out the weather (again). This is the wettest fall in 30 years history. Go figure when we plan this adventure flying.

We finally take off towards Madikwe but half way into an hour's flight we are forced to turn around. We can not get past or around the cloud & rain build up on a 5000' ridge ... dang Mother Nature - we are so close ...

Safety is foremost on this South Africa safari trip and we return to Parys to ponder our next adventure unknown and waiting for us on the ground. Since no flying is the name of the game today, our pilot guides find us a beautiful and lovely B&B in the town of Parys run by a delightful couple, Eddie & Delene, and their family!

The Vredefort Dome (World Heritage Site)

We arrange to make a trek to Vredefort Crater in a full on downpour on wet dirt red roads.

There are many natural rocks that got transformed into unusual shapes because of this earth event. Geologist's description of the meteorite hitting the earth thousands of years ago and how the earth moved was exemplified by slow motion photography of a small pebble dropping into water and forming a water droplet rebounding up in the center air of the drop.

After our crater adventure, we return to our B&B and a feast of traditional South African foods is beautifully displayed and presented to this hungry and weather worn group. WOW!! This feast is beautiful and incredibly delicious. Many of us are astounded over how savoring African dishes and spices can be to ones palate. WOW ... the best food we have ever eaten!

This family has had a lifetime of adventure as they use to be successful farmers with a huge plot of land that grew 10s of thousands of mango trees, tomatoes, potatoes, and cattle. All lost - confiscated post apartheid upheaval. These people that own this beautiful B&B were very gracious in their manner and speech about those days not so long ago - about 14 years. It was to us, a real story of history.

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To Bongani

Back to flying and weather of our Africa safari trip. Guess what? Heavy rain is forecasted for the next few days. The decision is made that we have to resort to ground transportation, a 6-hour drive versus a 2.5-hour flight ... argh!!! It's safe and the right thing to do so we can move onto Bongani Mountain Lodge.

South Africa WomanWe end up being driven those 6 hours on small tour van from Parys to Bongani. All have been pretty good natured about all this weather. As pilots we are used to weather and to not get upset because of it. No problem - pilots go onto plan B, C, or whichever number we are now up to in our South Africa safari trip!

Saturday March 25th, 2006

WE ARE HERE - and it is sunny!! Short sleeves, hats, sunscreen, ah nice. Our drive to here was the most interesting of our Africa safari trip, with the African taxi (back of a short truck).

The ladies carrying boxes on top of their heads captivated my attention - they glide as they walk and balance is amazing... and interesting was the mime in the middle of the street - entertaining for money.

Our driver happened to be a South African pilot doing tours now. Andre is very informative and the ideal South Africa safari trip guide. He shares information on history, local legend, places, gold mining, paper production and local information on the people and native nations. Was a short 6 hours of laughter, learning and wonder. We are finally here in the sun to see animals!

At Phinda the cooler weather allowed us to see animals all day long. Here it will be the typical South Africa safari trip type of game drive in the early morning and late afternoon. All the animals hide from the sun during the mid day even though temperatures stayed around high 70's.

One can see that Bully is happy to be here on our Africa safari trip - there are still moments that the clouds come in and threaten although mostly it is sunny - we were disappointed as pilots that we were not able to fly as we had planned - however - such is the nature of a flying safari - Mother Nature always has precedence. None spoiled this adventure - and actually adds to our experiences here in Africa!

If we had not had the Parys stay we would not have met or experienced the wonderful B&B, nor Vredefort Crater, nor excellent traditional South African feast nor the historical accounts by André while driving to Bongani.

We had a few stops along the way that were comical. At one of the rest stops there were local artists that sell their crafts to the tourists (us). Was able to purchase a bowl & cute bird carving that bobbed its head ... the artist said I could take this piece of wood attached to the carving and plant it at home and it will grow. What was so interesting about that is I had another person at home before we left saying to me to bring a piece of wood so I could bury it. The artists’ comments struck me odd and when at home telling the story - only then did the two comments come together... one comical and magical moment of many on my Africa safari trip.

As we pull up the drive to Bongani, pilots have their eyes to the sky and we see 'mares tales' cloud formations: wispy comma-like clouds that indicate high level winds AND usually foul weather in two days from when mares tails develop. We don't care - we are grounded anyway and further validates our decision to continue on the ground.

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Wildlife at Bongani

We are rounding a bend in the dirt road and there are rhinos! Our guide tells us that these are 'white' rhinos. The mis-term of 'white rhino' is from the dutch word meaning wide and that same word in Afrikaans means white ... hence WHITE Rhino where it should have been wide (mouthed) rhino (wide mouth for grazing on the ground).

So, people started to hear WHITE and then concluded that there must be a BLACK rhino... there is another rhino in Africa that has a pointy snout for browsing (eating shrubs - not eating from grazing the ground) and does not have any discernable color difference at all from the 'white' - but since it is a different rhino (in snout only) it must be a 'black' rhino! Go figure that logic, however that is how the name came about for these two rhinos. We did not get any real good pictures of black rhinos - too far away.

Our guide then took us to an area where a giraffe had been prey to a momma lion and her three 7 month old cubs for the past three days... one could tell full well when approaching the kill site (everyone wants to see a kill on an Africa safari trip) - WHEW - the stench was penetrating! As we came up to carcass - there was not a lion in sight.

We continued on a road and there were three small cubs just relaxing in the middle of a road! We were thrilled! So we got to watch the antics of lolly-gagging-about lion kids...and wondering where is momma! She must be near, although the lion kids are not overly concerned - actually they looked a bit bored as if told "... stay put until I call...". The boredom gets to them we think.

Then all of a sudden, ears on all three came to attention, so ours do also... "when in the bush-do as the bush" ... and we are rewarded the next hour with witnessing something once in a lifetime opportunity presents... (the story gets on...hope not to wear out anyone’s patience yet - please) ... MOMMA has called.

All 3 lion kids sashay up the road towards giraffe meal where momma has hollered... literally - she bellowed big to get their attention, and she sure got OURS -'s mom and dinner to be served!

It seems a South Africa safari trip is unpredictable. As we watch momma and kid lions start to chow down on their meal about 10 minutes into mealtime - momma jumped up to attention. We are about 7 feet away from her. She is not happy as she makes a half growl/meow noise and the kids scoot out of sight.

There are a group of rhinos walking nearby on the road coming into view of the giraffe kill zone. Our guide tells us that rhinos are very much like elephants when there is a cat kill, they go over to check out the kill and seem to meander about as if paying respect to an animal fallen prey. Either one, rhino or elephant, are not fond of cats, the guides tell us.

So we watch as the rhinos stroll about the kill area and nose the bones and carcass and then interesting enough, the lead rhino walks over to where momma lion had been lying about and pees. Then walks over towards the lion, as she is watching from about 20 feet right behind the jeep. This happens all within about 15 minutes as we are all frozen in our seats. As the rhinos leave the site, momma lion comes back and sniffs about and then calls the kids back to finish their interrupted dinner.

As two of the lion kids eat their dinner, one is goofing off, and as the guide starts the jeep to move on to our next Africa safari trip adventure, we hear a low growl from momma and next notice an immediate dinner attitude change in Mr. Goof-off... he is busy eating. We all have a good laugh and discussion about what has just been experienced and how lucky we all feel for being witness to real African Magic!!

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Today was a special kind of day - as every day is on this Africa safari trip.

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Typical Day on an Africa Safari Trip

This morning this Igwababa (Raven in Zulu) woke up extra early to sit out on the deck before our wake up call.

Here on Earth – here in Africa – 'they say' one is changed forever and the soul re-awakens: I feel this to be taking effect. Something is going on... the weather, the ease in and out of events, the flying, the piloting, the intense love thought flowing from experiencing this interface of animals, people and culture. I have much to write about to capture my heart and a soul re-awakening here in Africa.

Right now butterflies are EVERYWHERE around me – it is peaceful, a down time (a first!) of quiet to write and sit in the morning breeze in the middle of my South Africa safari trip.

Our guide is a man of the bush - he is attuned to the rawness of nature. On every drive he knows all the animals, even a small lizard/chameleon hiding in a tree at night ... stories and culture sharing with us about seeing and viewing beauty as it is. Animals and the land is foremost in his presentations. He ate blossoms and elephant dung to be 'one with' his world.

Today is going to be a warm one so our guide, Gideon, wants to depart earlier if possible. The routine for all game drives on this South Africa safari trip has been waking at 5am - coffee, tea and fruit at 5:30, and out to the jeeps at 5:45.

We get back to lodge for a feast-like breakfast at 9-10 or whenever we are through with the animal adventures. And then some will sack out until 1 for lunch, catch up on wash or anything else that is to do while traveling - even on an Africa safari trip!

After lunch there is only a 2-hour window before we gather for traditional English tea at 4 and start the game drive experience all over again, to return to the lodge 8-9pm for drinks and a dinner feast in the Boma, an outside fenced circular dinner place!

The game drive routine starts all over again in maybe 5-6 hours depending on when we get escorted by security to our bungalows. Evenings escorting is necessary as animals wander through the lodge grounds ... as there are no fences!

There are stories told about cape buffalo that wander through the grounds at night, hence security for anyone who wants to go from one place to another. We were a bit skeptical until the next morning - there was dung left over from a cape buffalo! Lodges are housed within the reserves - only fences exist around the huge game reserves.

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More Wildlife

One of the most amazing days on my South Africa safari trip, with zebras, rhinos, elephants, lions - oh my!! One baby zebra was missing a tail and had a few healed gouge marks on its hunches! Then the guides showed us an adult zebra with similar markings .... probably a lucky escape from being a meal!

There is an interesting collection of terms for a grouping of zebras ... it is called a "dazzle" of zebras. It's amazing what you learn on an Africa safari trip. Other collection of terms used for African animals in groups are 'crash of rhinos', 'journey of giraffes', 'pride of lions', 'leap of leopards', 'raft of hippo', 'nest of bushbabies', 'clan of hyena', 'dule of wood doves', 'business of mongeese', 'pitying of tutledoves', 'drift of warthogs', 'siege of herons', 'paddling of ducks', 'parliament of owls', 'chorus of frogs', 'exaltation of larks', 'bale of turtles', 'murder of crows', 'kettle of ravens', 'troop of baboons', and a 'skulk of bat eared foxes' ... fun eh? Dazzling!

We witnessed a rare sight - a giraffe at a waterhole prepping to take a drink. After the giraffe got her drink - she then glided - literally glided - into the African trees! After she was through with her drinking she looked right up at us as if to say '...what? Never seen anybody take a drink before?' It was comical and magical! Giraffes are such gentle and curious creatures! Just very magical in their movements.

Our South Africa safari trip guide keeps telling us that Africa is Magic and with all that we have seen - we most agree with the magical moments we have been witness and participated with!

We saw rhinos again and some more cape buffalo and lazy lions! They are just like BIG pussy cats (although we know better) and cats are cats no matter what size... their antics are so much like our Cancun at home ... especially baby lions!

Babies of the African bush are like any other kid in playing antics and getting into trouble with momma - it is fun to see all this here on a Magical Africa safari trip! Sleepy one in the warm day, sleepy especially after eating a meal!

We headed to a beautiful hill top for happy hour. I wandered some 50ft away from the jeep to capture a sunset-behind-acacia-tree scene and heard a 'noise', a short distance off to my right but paid no attention to it. I am called to join the group for a glass of wine. As soon as I get a glass, there is a HUGE "roar roar" not so far off to the right again.

The guides immediately tell us to get into the jeeps "NOW"! The guns get pulled out to guard as the other guides clean up the happy hour and retreats. We all sit very quietly ... again a HUGE "roar roar" - it is a single and potentially dangerous male lion not so far away - in fact very close! Exciting stuff happening on this Africa safari trip.

I mention to Gideon that I heard a muffled version of that noise about 10 minutes ago - he asked why did I not say anything? I did not know or figure it WAS A LION! His eyes became large white saucers against his black face! I thought it a bit comical although it was a serious situation.

So we waited and watched to see if Mr. Lion would reveal himself in the dark ... we were not so fortunate this time although we have been blessed with so many spectacular sightings with lions and all animals!

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Today is our last full day of game driving on this South Africa safari trip and we start out extra early to capture the cool of an early morning. There is excitement in the air as we are also planning for added activities in viewing primitive rock art and visiting an elementary school locally so we take all yummy and educational goodies that we brought with us from the USA.

We get more viewing of the animals of Africa as we can never get enough of them - it is most wonderful to be up close and personal to all these creatures in their own 'home'. And stories told to us by the guides.

Gideons bush comments were mentioned in a previous posting. So he did demonstrate one way to be with the animals that one is seeking to see (or hunt) is to eat part of the dung. That is one way to become 'part' of another creature ... not appetizing though ... it was pretty funny.

I did put some of dung in my palm, as it was all fiber just like pounded out tree debris with a very strong musky order. Interesting enough, after I threw it away and a few handy wipes came to me at once - the odor actually lingered on my palm! Nothing removed the lingering smell until the next day... after many washings. Pretty strong stuff from one of the world's strongest creatures met on a Africa safari trip!

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Rock Art

After the last Africa safari trip game drive we go on adventure to see primitive rock art that is reported to be 27,000 years old - WOW!! One has to drive up a dirt road out of the village and about 3 miles in, then a short 1/4 mile hike up and around some large boulders. In this little nestled shaded pathway there is a smooth part of huge boulders that has been recorded to have 10,000s of years of news painted on to the African rock face.

Our guide was telling us that a fence was not posted since that would signal a monetary value to this place, and it is of sacred value - so to keep others from harming this important place - a shaman’s symbol and charm is placed in the rock crack for all to see while preserving the paintings value and integrity. It is a feather much like a hawk feather with a dangling string with some carved rock and a few bone pieces attached to its ends.

There are a few pictures that are hard to see unless one gets very close for inspection. Archeologists have taken pictures of this rock to decipher the layers of paint upon paint left over all these years...and one can see that paintings are painted upon each other. A few petrogylphs are very clear to see and interesting. In some of the petroglyphs it is clear that animals shown are similar to those seen now in modern times.

Gideon being the man from the bush, he demonstrated how they make lashings, or cordage. He commented that when they need anything to be tied down they simply use a specific plant and peel away the outer layer and twist into a strong rope for whatever their purpose is... he just tore it and corded it as he was talking ... people did not know right then what he was doing (I did though - hehehe) and all were interested in what was being made. It was fun to watch the transformation during his story of bush lashings.

We saw more giraffes which was a treat - these beautiful creatures 'glide' through a forest and even their tongues and mouth glide while eating in tall acacia trees.

Groucho glasses were a hit with the people on our Africa safari trip ... it was just so funny - as I took pictures of the staff with the glasses on everyone, all wanted to see what the picture of them looked like... it was hilariously funny and most could not stop that belly laugh which shakes your body! We just roared and laughed at some when we 'gently tucked their nose sides' into the glasses white nose. All were great sports about getting their pictures taken and enjoyed seeing what they looked like. Since the groucho glasses were such a hit we left them with our guide and could hardly wait to play trick on others.

As we headed up a steep incline to the ridgeline on rubble and huge flat slap rock we round up onto the top of the ridge and are rewarded with a vast setting sun blazing through a rainy horizon! It is beautiful.

Our guides stop the vehicle and get ready to set up our happy hour and treats in this magnificent setting and all STOP! OOPS... Not here as we look out into a hidden danger!! ONE VERY MEAN LOOKING BULL Cape Buffalo ... jeep slowly backs up and turns around to pick a spot safely from the Cape Buffalo. He just glared at us the whole time - a lone bull upon his mountain top... not good for us until we are a safe distance positioned somewhere else to enjoy a magnificent view and happy hour!

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Visit to a Local School

So here we are in a beautiful afternoon of our last full adventurous day being driven to a school in the local village as part of our South Africa safari trip. It is about 40 minute trek to the local school house. What we saw coming into the school yard was this beautiful mural which lifts one feelings in what otherwise would be just regular buildings. We are at the local school where our guide's children attend.

So many goodies and pencils and other things we brought from good ole USA for children - we gave it all to the teacher so she could use them for various 'reward' system or encouragement for hard work ... she liked what we had and was so thankful. We felt like we did not bring enough. And hope to send other things. Was thinking that maybe an elementary school here could be penpals to a school like that in a local village.

Gideon was very proud to show the school where his kids attend. The children crowded around in a polite way to see pictures of themselves on digital cameras. Melody who was traveling with her grandma on this trip really got the kids attention which was great - who wants to just see adults!? She was surrounded with children and you could see such joy and happiness in Melody! So I got a picture captured in the midst of that joy.

There was curiosity and a bit of hesitation to 'touch' my blonde fine hair, when I leaned down to indicate that it is ok upon them wanting to touch - some of the kids would touch mine and then theirs and then mine again - the contrast brought giggles and fast talking amongst them... and some wide eyes of amazement. A picture would be taken and then play back on camera screen brought them into a tizzy of much giggling and comical laughter! It was so interesting and fun to be a part of the children - all part of the greater experience on an Africa safari trip.

We were shown around the school yard by a teacher and went into their big room for activities... they had a rack of computers - VERY OLD ones that get thrown in the trash by everyone. We were engrossed in the rack of computers and they’re using these old disposable ... I had no idea that all these computers that get thrown away and nobody has any use for here - and still functional - had a use! WOW ... we just stared at them in wonderment!

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My Soul Was Fed In Africa

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Rain, rain, rain - remember the mares tails mentioned a few days ago? Yup, we have tons of rain again as we leave Bongani to Nelspruit airport to fly to Kruger International on our way back to the US.

Our friends Karis and Fred experienced a major head on collision right in front of them and as their driver swerved to avoid the wreckage, it left them pretty shook up. Yes, we are leaving something of ourselves behind as it feels, not sure what one can call this, maybe just a tad of our soul - although we have gained so much in this adventure of all the senses and more!

Yes, definitely - we have gained more in our soul - if anything - that which resides within us has been richly re-awakened.

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Going back home to my home's collage - with simpler designs, colors and muted hues, integrated Grace - I feel so much, have experienced so much on this South Africa safari trip and am so much with Love of this Grace.

"Create your world in such a way that you openly share all the love inside".
"Live with Love - A State of Bliss" Mother Teresa

My life is a Love Collage!

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Safari Location: Mthethomusha Game Reserve (adjacent to southwest corner of Kruger National Park), South Africa
Safari Company Used: African Flying Safaris, NV, USA
Accommodation: B&B (Parys), Bongani Mountain Lodge
Duration: 14 to 23 March
Traveller Details: Candy Johnnie, USA
Rates & Availability: Make an African safari trip enquiry

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