Friday, May 23, 2014

Game Drive Day Two

Our morning started out before day break.  We all met in the lodge for some hot cocoa then loaded up in our trucks for our second game drive.  The first thing we saw was a herd of wildebeest which did not really surprise us.  They are everywhere.

This half grown wildebeest is enjoying breakfast but I do don't think mom was all that keen on the idea.  The herd seemed very jumpy and really did not like the fact that we were invading their territory. They danced around snorting and showing off as if they thought they could make us leave.

This guinea fowl, along with several others, started out on the ground but they were disturbed by a black- backed jackal and flew to the tree to escaped becoming  breakfast.  I did not realize guinea fowl could fly that high.  It was rather comical.  They are so heavy bodied that their weight made them sway back and forth on the limbs of the tree.  It looked as if they would fall out or break a limb at any minute.  I am sure they would have retreated to the safety of the ground if that dreaded jackal would just mind his own business.

We have seen hundreds of ostriches since we have been in South Africa, but until this game drive we never knew why some where black and white and others were grey.  We had speculated about a few possibilities but I can now tell you with confidence that the grey birds are the female and the beautiful black and white birds are the males.  That explains why we usually see more grey ostriches than we see black and white ones.  It is fun to see them as we travel down the roads.

These two pictures are of a secretary bird.  They are strange birds to watch.  They  stand erect almost like a human strutting around as if they owned the world.  They are called secretary birds because of the long quill feathers that stick out of their heads like long tresses.  The quills look like the ones secretaries used to write with, therefore the name secretary birds
According to Jonathan, these vultures have stuffed themselves to the point were they can not fly.  They will have two sit for several hours and digest the meat they have gorged themselves on before they can fly back to their homes.
Here is the Nambidi Reserve cafeteria.  This is only a small portion of the impala we saw wandering over the side of the hill.  We were surprised at how little our presence affected them.  They did not seem to care if we were there or not.
We kept seeing the giraffes on the side of the hill but Jonathan made the decision to take us to where the lions were so we never got to see the giraffes up close and personal.  This was the best picture we could get from so far away.

You can imagine how exciting it was to come upon these two beautiful  lionesses.  This made number 4 of the big five that we saw.   The only one of the big five that we did not see was the leopard.  Jonathan told us in the nearly three years that he has worked at this reserve he has only seen the leopards twice.
We followed the lionesses for several minutes as they walked down the road.  They did not seem to care one way or another that we were following them.  We watched until they separated. 

One lioness went down the hill by a small stream and the other lioness went up over the hill and layed down and watched.  It was so amazing.
Just as we drove around to where this lioness stopped to rest a  wart hog ran out of the bushes.  We were not able to get a picture of him.  He ran then stopped and turned to look at us and the lioness, waited a bit then ran off into the brush.

We stayed for about 20 or so minutes and then drove on down the road to see what we could see.  And this is what we saw.
These big male lions had been walking around the reserve for several hours being observed by various groups.  They decided it was time for a bit of a nap.  Jonathan was in radio communications with other drivers so we knew a bit about what was happening around the reserve.  That is how he knew where to take us to have the best chance of seeing the animals.
These impalas where up on a hill above were the lions where sitting.  It was quite interesting to see how still they stood as they observed the resting lions.  They did not move a mussel.  It was as if they could not help themselves to look at the goings on but they stayed at alert to assure they would not end up someones breakfast or lunch.
This is the oldest and largest of the three lions.  They are brothers. born a few years apart.  
Talk about lazy, after a long morning workout.
These lions stayed within a few yards of us most of the twenty or so minutes that we stayed and watched them.  They were truly exhausted from their morning of trying to show who was boss.  Some of the other senior couples got to see the lions roaring at each other and challenging each other for the position of dominate male.
Jonathon, told us that as long as we remained in the vehicle we would be fine but that we where not to stand up or get out of the vehicle.  He said standing up made the lions nervous and getting out of the vehicle made us a
prime candidates to become breakfast.

We traveled on down the road and came to the pond for a pit stop.
From Left to right: Sister Zackrison and President Zackrison, Elder and Sister Sutherland,  Sister and Elder Edington, Elder and Sister Carlile and Sister and Elder Jaeger.  This pond is where the Hippos where the night before.  We stopped to have hot chocolate and muffins and to take pictures.  These are the wonderful people that shared this second game drive with us.  
This is Jonathon, our driver and guide.  I never realized what a big man he was until I stood next to him.   He was an excellent guide.  He did a very good job of finding the animals and making it a lot of fun for all of us.
These are our best friends here at Bloemfontein.  They are Elder and Sister Carlile.  They are the MLS (Member Leadership Support) missionaries and right hand people for President Zackrison.  They are remarkable, hard working, caring missionaries.  They are mom and dad to the young missionaries and are there to help solve all kinds of problems.  They buy beds and furniture.  They take missionaries to doctors appointments, feed them and make sure they get on the bus for transfers.  They do just about everything that moms and dads do and then some.  They are great examples of righteous servants.
This is Sister and President Zackrison, our Mission President and his wife.   They are wonderful people with a huge job to do.  They understand people and are very easy to get along with.  They are real people who understand the need to get away and have a few days R and R.  We are grateful for the opportunity they gave us to enjoy some time seeing what Africa is about.
This is Sister and Elder Jaegar.  Sister Jaeger is the Sister that nearly ended up in Jonathon's lap when the rhino started to charge the land rover.

We headed back to the lodge where we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and then had to leave so we could go see the cheetahs at the reserves chetah rescue compound.  What an amazing experience.  Thank you President Zackrison for the opportunity.

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