• Got chased by an elephant through the bushes – check
• Ate traditional South African food – check
• Handled a chameleon – check
• Wore sandals while surrounded by deadly snakes - check (though that was just Jan)
• Caught whiff of dead wildebeest – check
Because of the near impossibility in getting students to come into university for a seminar over a weekend, we were able to take Saturday and Sunday off. And we were more than ready for a break after a jam-packed week of waking up at 7:30am for seminars, community meet-ups and press interviews, and staying up till 2:30am preparing for the next day! And what better way to take a break in South Africa than to go on a safari .
Charles, Jan and I visited the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve two hours north of Durban. We set out on a game drive almost as soon as we arrived. Within two and a half hours we glimpsed zebra, wildebeest, antelope, giraffe and impala. The photos on the left are all my own! (Impala are known as ‘bush McDonald’s’ because they have an M pattern on their backsides, are everywhere, and everyone else in the bush eats them – they even showed up on our menu!)
Our luck continued on our second game drive when we saw vultures, warthog, the reserve's only crocodile Smiley, and drove through a couple of herds of elephants. We also encountered the lodge’s teenage problem elephant, which has been known to attack vehicles. He followed our car for a nervous few minutes!
We were keen to see the reserve's rhinoceros, but had so far only seen ‘rhino bushes’ (ie “Ooh, is that a rhino over there? Oh. No. Wait. That’s just a bush”). We had to seek her out on foot, and finally found her grazing on a hill. Unfortunately, just as we were pulling out our cameras, a wildebeest grumble frightened her away... so you just have to believe us that we saw her .
But it wasn't all play and no work this weekend: Charles and Jan converted our two guides to Opera Mini users! I emerged from my room for dinner just in time to snap this photo of Jan demonstrating Opera Mini features to our driver.