Friday, January 16, 2009

Silver Wind: Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Day 4

Those of us accustomed to cruising in the Caribbean generally consider “wild life” to be the rush back to the ship after a day at Carlos ‘N Charlies in Cozumel. Today’s wild game drive was entirely different and the real thing. People here in South Africa talk about spotting the Big Five—elephants, buffalo, rhinos, lions, and leopards—and we were about to see two of them.

Addo Elephant Park, which covers over 126,000 acres is as wild and untamed as its residents—elephants, lions, wildebeest, leopard turtles, and kudu. The elephant herd was nearly extinct when the park was established and now there are some 300 that have been bred from the few that remained. We were pretty well assured to see at least some pachyderms and when we reached their favorite watering hole, there were dozens. The baby elephants were particularly adorable, following in their mothers’ shadows to escape the sun and heat. Cameras clicked away as the elephants frolicked in the water and we were treated to quite a show when two males began a skirmish.

The piece de resistance, however, was a rare lion sighting. There are only a dozen lions in the park and we were fortunate to see two—a male and a female lounging in the shade. Our bus escort said she’s been in the park thousands of times and has only seen one. It was quite a thrill. That was what we came to Africa to see and we certainly won’t go home disappointed.

Tomorrow we’ll be in Durban and visiting a much smaller private game reserve. Will we add the other three of the Big Five to our list of sightings? Our cameras are ready!

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