Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holy Kudu!

Nestled past the picturesque Garden Route, Addo Reserve is home to one of the biggest herds of captive elephants (about 450).   Having done the drive-through safari at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, I obviously knew what to expect.  You drive in past a security gate, take a break to browse over-priced, gift shop kitsch, grab a bite to eat in the restaurant, and then through another gate onto a paved road surrounded by stubby trees and dry brush.  This time, though, the animals weren’t crowded into a football-stadium-sized field and the tourists weren’t bumper-to-bumper feeding the monkeys Kit-Kats as they clambered onto their hoods.  No, it was eerily quiet at 7am and nary a car to be seen on the winding roads.  We watched patiently, desperately even, for any movement in the distance, a patch of color that didn’t quite fit, hoping not to be the unlucky few that managed to travel so far not to see anything.  A few horned heads ducked, distinguishing them from branches, and then we watched as a herd of kudu retreated from us. 

Right on.  The day continued and we saw ostriches, zebras, mongoose, jackals, elands, buffalo, tortoises, warthogs, lions, and a whole lot of elephants, breaking into the When I Was a Young Warthog when appropriate.  Meanwhile, Tia became progressively more excited each time she could tick another box on her list of animals to see (note: lawyers adore lists).  When we met a South African family with precocious, British-accented children midway through the day that asked us if we’d seen any elephants we secretly rejoiced that we weren’t the suckers that: (a) slept in, (b) showed up at the hottest time of day, and (c) were truly nonplussed that wild animals wouldn’t just wander up to their car and say hi.  Again, note my use of lists (happy wife = happy life).  Don’t feel too bad for the family, though.  We saw them later at the restaurant and they’d seen plenty.  The precocious 13-yr. old girl bragged about how they also saw so many tortoises on the pavement earlier that she could just walk over and pick them up.  Pick them up?  Have you not been reading any of the signs with that £50,000 per year public school education, girl?  Our previous sympathy now gone, we told them about the pride of lions we saw lounging around a watering hole earlier that day.  Eat that, animal-abuser.

Frequent rewards for our vigilance kept us hooked until the park closed at 6:30pm.  Spending yet another day driving around in Hot Dog, however, threatens to make us all fat.

No comments:

Post a Comment