Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rhinos, Leopards, and farewell to Africa

The Singita Boulders Lodge has been fantastic. The lodge itself is stunning with great food, all you could possibly want to drink, and complimentary cigars, including Cubans. But everything pales when compared to the game viewing. We saw lions, including some guarding a recently slaughtered Cape buffalo, giraffes, and zebras warily watching circling hyenas. Marc and I went fishing, with Patti coming along for fun. We didn't catch anything, but in the span of one hour saw hippos, crocs, and elephants. It seems unbelievable when you are watching it all unfold.

The evening viewing was unbelievable. We arrived at a pond to find that the Singita folks had set up a cognac tasting for us and, across the pond, loomed three magnificent rhinos. We watched them as they watched us, sipping cognac and enjoying the setting sun in the background. The scene was surreal, and I expect that the rhinos felt the same way.

Hyena and babies

Warthog, they eat on their knees.

Marc fishing, didn't catch anything tho.

This lion pulled down the Wildebeest and ate all night.  Tough to tell which was alive and which was dead.

The next morning we set off again and the highlight was a young bull elephant who apparently felt we were encroaching upon his space and took off after us. Our excellent guide, Nikki, explained that it was a mock charge designed only to scare us off. It worked.

Rhinos joined us for Sundowners.

What did Shad find??


Nicky and Shad.

Rare to see a hippo out of water.

Young bull charged us.

Leopard kill in the tree.

Leopards mating.

Bad monkey.

This guys was under our deck during breakfast.

That evening, we watched two giraffes fight. They actually do it by smacking their necks into each other until one gives up. Sometimes, this fight can take three days. There was an odd grace to the process, as the animals stand calmly side by side between swings until one of them decides to smack the other.

As we headed back to the lodge, Nikki received word on her radio that two leopards were spotted in the mating game that leads to sex. She tracked them down and we watched for an hour as she navigated the jeep through the thick growth, rolling over saplings and shrubs, and the leopards engaged in their dating game. They rubbed against each other, slapped each other, climbed a tree together, and left their marks all over the place. In the midst of it all, along came three big hyenas. The leopards paid them little heed, and our guide explained that the hyenas would never challenge leopards. The hyenas would, however, hope that the leopards had made a kill so that they could steal some meat or pick at the carcass when the leopards were done. We watched the game for a while and finally called it a day.

The next morning, our final drive, we saw more rhinos and, incredibly, found the amorous leopards. This time, they were busy consummating their relationship. Sex lasts for about 45 seconds and the guide says is actually painful for the female. Accordingly, the process involves a lot of roaring as the male pins the female to the ground and then enjoys his few moments of pleasure. Here's the kicker: they repeat the process every couple of minutes and can keep at it for two or three days. Marc says that the male must be a French leopard. As we were watching the leopards, we turned to find that a rhino had sauntered up and was watching us. Absolutely incredible.

We are now packed and, after lunch, will head to the small airfield here for the flight to Jo Berg and on to London. I will write more from England as we all reflect on what has been a truly phenomenal trip. Now it is time to contemplate what we've seen as I enjoy a fine cigar.

Please note that I'm making this entry on my I-Pad and can't go back to review the content. Please forgive any errors--I am off for that cigar!

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