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Sunday, May 18, 2014

African Adventure 2014 - Chapungu Camp Day 3

Knowing most of our group had early departures, we arose and quickly made it to coffee and tea. Not really to our surprise did we find many of our companions hung over from a late night of drinking and chatting in the bar. Despite their best intentions to get packed and rest up before their long travel days ahead of them, it was not to be. We later discovered that a lion was roaring near camp the previous night around 2am when the rest of the group went to bed. Unfortunately, we were passed out and missed it.

With everyone ready to go a little early, we were able to pull out on our game drive a little before 6am. When we reached the first meadow, we were treated to an absolutely beautiful sunrise. It was probably the most beautiful sunrise, Gerhard quickly found us a herd of wildebeest in a clearing, looking like they were just beginning to rise from a night of slumber. Next we found some zebra, allowing us to add to our collection of bum photos. Throughout our trip, we seemed to find loads of animals willing to show off their rumps. So much so that an album dedicated to the derriere may be in order.


Not long after the zebras, we came across three white rhinos sleeping on the road. Yesterday, we saw a black rhino and her calf in the distance, which was really difficult to see. These white rhinos were much closer. We watched them sleep for a while, when suddenly, the young rhino awoke and started trying to wake her mom. Her mom ignored her calf and continued to stay in dreamland. While watching the rhinos, Gerhard told us that their eyes are pointed towards the ground, allowing them to focus on their food. Whenever the rhino went to look forward, they have to raise their heads. The rhinos are truly magnificent creatures. It is sad that they are poached for their horns. In fact, Thornybush lost a rhino to poachers a little over a month prior to our visit, showing that even private reserves are not off poachers radars. Very sad.


While watching the rhinos, several small red-billed oxpeckers flitted about, eating ticks and bugs off of the rhino. These same birds can also be found on giraffe and buffalo.


Once we left the rhinos, we stumbled upon some helmeted guineafowl, similar to a grouse or chicken here in the US. The guineafowl are much more beautiful than chickens. We also found our leopard friend again, resting near where we found him the day before. Only then did we discover that he killed a warthog and was still working on the carcass, resting in between meals. Without the show from the day before, we left the leopard to see what else we could see. A family of giraffe appeared to be waiting for us as they posed for some photos. The final animal of our morning drive was a family/herd of elephants. They were kind enough to give us more opportunity to add to our bum photo collection.




Back at camp, we all with Gerhard and Cedrick to take a few more group shots by the Chapungu sign. With everyone getting ready to go, we had a final breakfast with our group before saying goodbyes. It was sad to see them leave, but we were happy to meet such awesome people in such a remote part of the world. Near our tent, a male nyala crossed the stream to walk up to our neighbors. It was such a beautiful animal. It is amazing to see the animals walk in and around camp, coming close to the tents. In the tent, Ben did his laundry from the day before. We only brought a few long-sleeved shirts, which seemed to be hugely important on game drives. Even though the daytime temperatures can be boiling hot, the mornings and evenings, especially in the open-aired jeep, are quite cool. Following laundry, Ben took a quick nap while Kari did some exercises. The daily diet of eat, sleep and game drive was starting to get to her. Speaking of eating, lunch was a fantastic curry beef kabob, sweet potato salad, and salad with apple crisp for dessert. One thing that never happened during our stay here was going hungry. We always had more delicious food available then we could ever eat.

After lunch, we jumped back in the jeeps for our afternoon game drive. We had a new family join us: Alan, Rebecca, Kelly and Beth. Beth and Kelly are from Maine while Alan and Rebecca are Brits living in Johannesburg. Part of the reason for their stay was to celebrate Beth's birthday.


Our first animal sighting was some kudu. A beautiful male was hanging out by the airstrip. There was also a family of warthogs searching for food near the airstrip. Cute little piggies. A red-billed oxpecker was riding on the male kudu's back, hoping for some juicy bugs.


Since Ben pretty much hogged the camera on the previous few game drives, Kari took over as lead photographer for the evening game drive. She did a great job. We found some zebra, impala, wildebeest, a monitor, buffalo, and loads of hornbill. We also went back in search of the leopard. Sure enough, he was still close by his kill, appearing to be resting after another gorging on the warthog. Our next stop was to find some hippos. While we had see the tops of their heads on previous game drives, we had not seen much more. We finally found some. Unfortunately, it was getting really dark before they started getting too active. Oh well. At least we saw them starting to move around and grunt a bit. On the way back to camp, we stumbled across a herd of elephants destroying some trees in search of marula fruit. The females walked closely passed us right before a big bull came into view. He was enormous! Probably the largest bull elephant we had seen. As he was walking by, he let his manhood flop out and drag along the ground. The reason behind this is that he was in musth, high testosterone levels searching for a willing female. Absolutely huge! Kari was a wee bit disturbed though.

Back at camp, we cleaned up for dinner and waited for the night porter to escort us back. Tonight, we had kudu filet, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, breaded fried cheese and chocolate cake. It was fantastic! We sat on the deck of the lodge near the pool enjoying the food. With the new people being a family of four and wanting to sit together, we ended up alone for the first dinner of our stay here. Since we were both pretty exhausted, we decided to go to bed early and headed back to the tent not long after dinner.

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