South Africa Day 4

Day 4 (February 27th)

We woke up for a breakfast of eggs and toast and sausage at about 7a.m. Then, after packing up our bags we hopped back on the bus and headed just a few blocks down the road for our zip line adventure. We had a safety talk and geared up for the lines. Then we got in a jeep to drive down the road to where the course was. Our guide was really funny and entertaining. After doing 10 different lines, most of which were over 40 meters high. (I don’t actually know how high that is because they only knew meters and we only know feet, so it was a slight barrier, with no one knowing conversion rates) Once we finished the course, we had a short walk back to the truck and drove back to the main office. We had a delicious lunch of grilled sandwiches, and I had a grilled cheese, YUM! Since our guide and bus driver had gone in the third group of 7 people, (I was in the second group of 7) we had to wait around because the bus was locked and everyone’s money was there. We had some time to shop around but the town was extremely small so there was not much to buy. The craft market had most of the same stuff I had already bought, there was a store full of random objects, most of which was junk but I did find a book, the grocery store was as small as a gas station mini mart, and they had a random 50’s café that was Marilyn Monroe-themed. The reason for this strange combination of stores was because the area was actually very poor but about 15 or 20 years ago a man came in and started doing adventure trips, like the zip lining and river tubing, and helped bring in business of the wealthier population. The town was pretty much a tourist trap, especially the restaurant, and no doubt no one would visit that place if these adventure things weren’t there. After about an hour, it was time to leave again and we hopped back on the bus for another long bus ride. After about four hours, we arrived at the Garden Route Game Lodge, which was a gorgeous lodge set in the middle of this game reserve, where all the animals live. We were assigned our rooms and had a few hours to kill until our evening game drive. Of course most of the girls got our bathing suits on and cooled down in the pool and relaxed on the lawn chairs.

After the nice relaxation time, I got dressed and ready for the drive, which happens every evening on a schedule. Right as we entered the park we got to see a cheetah relaxing in the shade of a bush. We saw so many different animals, including zebras, all kinds of antelope, water buffalo, wildebeest, and the beautiful lions. When we found the rhinos, we got to get so close to the mother and her two babies. Because they were grazing and kept moving when we arrived, At one point our truck got in the way of the mother’s view on her youngest baby so she got upset and almost charged but instead jogged over closer to her baby. Rhinos have extremely bad eyesight and can only see about 20 feet, so anything else is just shapes and any movement is a hazard. The funniest animal to see was probably the wildebeest. Not only do they look like anorexic buffalo, with saggy skin under their neck, they have strange habits. For each herd in the park, and there were a few of them, there is only one male for all the women. He is head of the heard, and the only mating male, in fact the only male allowed. All other males born get kicked out of out of the heard once they start showing an interest in the females. Because of this, a bachelor heard exists where all the banished guys go to hang out. With all the testosterone flowing (or whatever get male wildebeests going), they all fight amongst each other and hone their fighting skills. Then, once a season/year, the strongest male of the bachelor heard goes to challenge the head male of the mating heard. Because he is weak from lack of fighting, it’s guaranteed that he will lose the challenge, get kicked out by the new Alpha male and get chased to the bachelor heard. This naturally ensures that the Alpha male won’t start inbreeding with one of his new daughters. The Alpha Male is also extremely territorial about his heard and the second the bachelor herd gets too close it starts making a funny noise, sort of like a loud, lower-pitched bird chirp that sounds like “yip.” When I first heard the sound, I didn’t actually realize the wildebeest was the one making the noise; I thought it was a bird. We didn’t get to see all the animals in the park because our driver, Hannes, was going to save the rest for our morning drive. So after a two-hour drive, we headed back to the lodge as the sun was setting across the African savannah (okay it wasn’t really a savannah, it was rolling hills, but that sounds so much cooler). We headed back to the lodge for a delicious dinner buffet. There was everything from ribs, chicken and steak, to springbok (the national antelope), and soups, appetizers of cheeses and meats and olives. There were rice and bean dishes and just so much food! Dessert was absolutely the best though. Most people went with dishes they were familiar with but I went with the Malva Pudding, which was a kind of spongy apricot-flavoured cake that had a delicious creamy vanilla sauce. It was absolutely heavenly! I let a few people try it, and boy were they disappointed they had gone with brownies! J Definite upside of not being a chocolate lover: I like to branch out on desserts! After dinner we just had downtime, so of course it was time for more wifi, and I did a little more stargazing, since the stars were still gorgeous and bright. Then it was time for bed in the large comfy bed in our elegant room.

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