The word “safari” actually comes from an Arabic root: safara – to travel. In English, it has aquired the particular meaning of travelling in the African wild.
Our weekend camping trip to the Lapalala wilderness fulfilled every exotic expectation.
In South Africa, you don’t need a 4×4 to head out on safari. Our trusty Little Red Wagon was quite up to the task, easily handling the park’s muddy, rocky, and sandy dirt roads.
It’s actually quite dangerous to walk around the park by yourself. But on Sunday, Bob and I joined a guide for a special game-spotting trek.
In addition to protecting us from potentially agressive wildlife, Elias also helped us to understand what we were seeing.
We learned to identify the tracks of impala, wildebeast, giraffe, and monkeys, and to distinguish white and black rhinoceri dung!
The one drawback of a walk is that the animals don’t let you get very close. In fact, our usual way of realizing that something was near was that we could hear it running away! But we did manage to get within viewing distance of some giraffe by sneaking up on them from downwind.
Can you spot the giraffe in this picture Bob took?
The better game viewing is from your car. Somehow the animals recognize a person on two feet as a potential threat, but a whole car full of people looks like just another slow-moving herbivore. On our way back from the hike, we drove up on the giraffe in the picture featured at the top of this post. Obviously you can see how much closer it let us get.
The big game aren’t the only thing worth seeing, though. Some of the coolest things to spot are very small. On our hike, we came across a grasshopper which had been run over by a car. Its body was about four inches long, with the most amazing iridescent colors — green and blue and red.
Another cool insect find was the dung beetle. It’s really neat how these little guys roll these massive balls of dung away to their nests to feed their young.
And you see these things everywhere. Which makes sense, I suppose, because there is a lot of dung in the bush. A good-sized fresh pile can have 20 or 30 of these guys, easily.
Here you can see the kids leaning out to get a better view.
Unfortunately we couldn’t fit all our amazing pictures on this blog. But Bob has put together a spectacular slideshow at flickr which showcases the best shots. Besides the close-up of the dung beetle, you will find nyala, impala, jackal, blue vervet monkey, baboons, a baby giraffe, warthogs, and much more.
Simply follow the link to start viewing. During the slide show, click on any picture to read Bob’s comments.