There are more sheep than people in Iceland. By almost three times. It should come as no surprise that we saw these animals everywhere during our trip. Our other frequent wildlife companion on the road was the Icelandic horse. These horses are smaller than typical horses, but they are hardy. They also carry a double-coat mane to protect themselves from the bitter cold winters.
Palo Verde National Park is located in Guanacaste in northwest Costa Rica. It surrounds the Tempisque River, where there is an abundance of birds and other wildlife. We took a boat ride on the river through the forest, which was booked through Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands. Our knowledgeable guide pointed out tons of animals, including herons, crocodiles, lizards, monkeys, and bats. It was nice to get away from the heat by being near the water.
It’s only fitting that I wrap up this series of photos from our Africa trip on the six-month anniversary of the end of the trip. It’s hard to choose a favorite amongst the animals that we saw. They are just so magnificent. I did love seeing the big cats though, as you could probably tell from all the leopard photos last week.
Finding animals at night is a good challenge. On our first game drive here, we were able to come upon this pride of lion, after the sun set and the blood moon rose, feeding on a bushbuck. The bone crunching noise is something that will stick in my head for a lifetime.
On our last morning, just before we had to head to catch our flight, we went on a final game drive. A light breeze and a cool mist had settled all through the Sabi Sands, and most of the animals were in hiding. This morning, we were in search of the cheetah. We raced toward the southern part of the game reserve after getting reports of one sighted in an open meadow. We found this male marking his territory.
One of the animals that we kept hoping to see was a male lion (big mane and all), and unfortunately we didn’t see one on this trip. But it’s okay because that just means we will have to head back to Africa in the future! We are hoping to be able to head back in a few years, hopefully to the safaris of East Africa. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!
As I alluded to last week, we were able to get up close and person with many of the animals at Sabi Sands. Tlangisa is a female leopard who closely follows her two cubs, who were six months old at the time of our visit (back in October 2014). These two frequently played around with each other with their mother watching nearby.
We had another amazing run-in with leopards during our time there. After going through some thick bushes, we found two mating leopards. Nature at its finest! I can’t remember this female’s name, but I’m still following closely online to see if they were successful. Did you know that the average gestational period for a leopard is only three months? If that’s true, there should be leopard cubs that were born not too long ago. It may be a matter of them making their appearances as I remember being told that this female is particular shy around humans.
The last destination for our trip was the Inyati Game Lodge, located in Sabi Sand Game Preserve. We got there via Skukuza Airport, which is located inside Kruger National Park. This beautiful airport greeted us with warmth (it was 107 degrees!) and wildlife (bats seen on the ceiling!).
Because poaching is such a serious issue in most of Africa, our car was searched for “poaching weapons” when we entered the Newington Gate at Sabi Sand. During our three days at Sabi Sand, we saw at least 42 different types of animals, with 18 that we hadn’t seen in the previous destinations of this trip. Going on safari game drives in a private game reserve is so much different than going in a national park (like we did at Chobe in Botswana). We were able to get so much closer to the animals because off roading was allowed here. Also, we were also able to stay out until it was dark, which we were unable to do at Chobe, unless we were camping within the park.
We saw the last of the Big Five while here — the rhinoceros. We felt transformed back into the historic world while watching these gentle animals grazing on grass. It’s so tragic that their population is decimated by poachers who are after their horns.
During our time at Inyati, we also enjoyed all the animals wandering around our cottage, including impalas, bushbucks, nyalas, baboons, monkeys, and guineafowls. On one of the evening walks after dinner from the main lodge to our cottage, we also heard a lion’s low pitch roar.
After Cape Town, we headed to Hermanus, the whale-watching capital of the world. The sole purpose of this side trip was to view whales and sharks. From our balcony, we were able to enjoy the cool ocean breeze while looking at breaching Southern right whales.
We were picked up from our guest house early in the morning for a shark diving experience in Gansbaai, about 40 minutes away from Hermanus. The wind was blowing and the temperature was cool; our first windy and cool day of the trip. We felt like we got a work out while holding on for our dear lives as the waves crashed into the side of our boat. I don’t think we expected the level of seasickness that this activity would induce, nor the fishy odor emanating from the suits, so none of us suited up for the actual diving part (the other 15 people on the ship did though). The boat was rocking so much that it would have been like trying to put on a wet suit while really, really drunk. But I would argue that I actually got the better view than the divers since I was able to sit on the side of the boat where the bait was. I saw every single shark as they swam to the surface and the few times that they actually took the bait. There were seven sharks in total that were visible to us, with the longest being about 3.5 m (11.5 ft) long.
On our last evening game drive, we explored an area where our guide thought the lions would be. And we hit jackpot! The lionesses and young lions crossed the road and headed down to the river, where there were already a couple of trucks waiting. We followed all nine of them and sat in our truck under the setting sun, while they nonchalantly scouted out the scene in front of them. Two of them began diverting, presumably to go for a kill of some unsuspecting animal. Unfortunately, we had some 40 km to cover over the next hour before the park gates closed, so we left before any action started. We heard the following day that two male lions also appeared in that area that evening, although we were long gone by then.
These are some of my favorite photos from our trip, and they wrap up ones from Botswana. On to South Africa!
Chobe National Park is known for its elephants. There are some 80,000 elephants in the park, and we saw a few hundred of them heading for a drink on the Chobe River during one of our game drives. There were elephants dotting the landscape in 180 degrees of land in front of us. We heard the trumpet of the mother elephant when disciplining their young. Baby elephants nurse until about four years of age, and we saw that a few times. We also found out that certain trees give them the runs, and got first hand account of that on video. Another elephant, who had just thrown some mud on his body, decided to shake it out right in front of me.
I have to split this post into a few parts because there are just so many photographs I would like to showcase!
Our five game drives kept our hearts content and full of love for nature. Everywhere we looked, there were amazing animals, though I was most impressed with all the elephants that wandered around. Overall, we saw at least 47 different animals, although this is probably a conservative number as there were a few that we didn’t take pictures of and/or don’t know the names of.