Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Elephant Poo...All You Need to Know

We were up early for our next game drive. Ganny showed us how to spot elephant tracks, not only by their footprints, but also by the marks that their trunks leave when they swish them on the ground. Here he is explaining the benefits of elephant dung. We probably heard at least one poo story every day!

This water hole was originally part of a termite mound. Animals come and eat the mineral rich soil for nourishment, gradually eating down to the point where the hole collects water. In the dry season, the water evaporates leaving this indentation.

Elephants will shake the grass to release dirt, sand and seeds before eating it.

Are these ossicones bald or do they have fur? I would guess bald, therefore a male. But I managed to guess wrong most times! This guy was right on the side of the road (hence the power lines). Animals will often feed there as water will run off the roads into the ditches so the grass is greener, and also people in vehicles might litter and throw out a tasty treat.

Our next stop was the Painted Dog Conservation area.

The painted dogs are becoming extinct due to poachers. For the last 15 years, the conservationists have been going to schools to teach children about the painted dogs and how everyone has to do their part to stop the trapping of them.

We were going to walk to the rehabilitation facility to see some of the dogs they are currently treating for illness. We had a choice of walking 300 m to the left or taking a lovely 800 m walk along the raised boardwalk. Of course, we chose the long way!

It was a beautiful day and a lovely walk...

And we arrived at the rehab centre, which was quite depressing...

There were two dogs being treated. They looked so sick and so sad. It was hard to watch.

We went into the research facility where they spoke to us about their efforts to preserve the breed. They had a little gift shop where I was happy to buy a cloth bag to keep all my "stuff" in and to support their work.

We left that area and headed back on our game drive. Not one of us spotted this lion until we had gone by and Ganny started backing up. Good thing the guides have good eyes!

A beautiful male lion just trying to hide in the shade...

And when he did this, we kind of freaked. We thought he was getting up and going to attack us. Crazy tourists. But, at this point in our safari, no one had told us that most of the animals just see vehicles as big blobs. They don't see us individually, unless we do something crazy like get out of the vehicle. So the people in the back were saying "Let's go. Let's go." And Ganny and Manuel thought we were crazy because we didn't want to stay longer and watch the lion. Manuel only told us that story later. we know. Sadly, we never saw another lion like this one.

Pretty much what a day in the park looked like. Lots of blue sky, beige and brown scenery, and acacia trees.

We stopped to let these elephants go by, and now that we knew they weren't interested in us individually, we all sat quietly as this guy came right up to us and then turned and walked in front of the vehicle. They've been seeing vehicles in the park for many, many years, so it's a common sight to them.

Love the little babies...

And with that day over, it was time to head back to the camp for another lovely sunset.

Gathering at the bar before dinner...Pat and Robert on the left; the wonderful bar staff; and Bruce and Jim.

And a group photo...

This was Norma, the chef at Elephant's Eye. She was so sweet and shy. Each night she would come out and tell us what she had prepared. This is Elephant's Eye's third year in operation, so we had a birthday party with champagne.

The next morning, we were up early as we had 600 km to drive to Nata Lodge in Botswana. Your wake-up call would be someone outside your tent nicely saying "Good morning" until they got a response from you. It was cold and dark. These ladies were beyond helpful and kind to us. We loved our stay and were sad to move on. New adventures awaited!

We were heading to No. 3 on the map, the Nata Lodge on the salt pans in Botswana. You would think it would be a short drive, but because one of the roads was in poor condition, we had to go all the way up to Kasane, near Victoria Falls where we had started.


It looked like the Prairies...

This is a lay-bye where you can stop and rest. The sign behind says "Disclaimer. This is a wild animal area and you are stopping at your own risk." OK...

We made a stop in Kasane at the medical clinic. What trip would be complete without a visit to the doctor? Jim had been having pretty serious nosebleeds due to the dryness and using his cannula for his oxygen was only making it worse. Two others in our group saw the doctor as well, so we didn't feel like we were holding everyone up. The doctor was great and, with a visit to the pharmacy, we were all set to go.

I found this on the wall in the clinic. Divide by 10 and you'll get an approximate price.

Time for a roadside lunch. We had left Ganny behind in Zimbabwe and Manuel and Mbusi found us a shady spot to set up for lunch. This vehicle was designed by Jenman especially for safaris of this type with 10-12 participants.

And then we would all pitch in...hmm...wait a minute, the women would all pitch in. Love you, guys!

Here we are arriving at our next camp, the Nata Lodge.

So, the shower routine went like this. It was too cold and too early to shower in the mornings, so we would normally shower when we got back from our game drives before going to dinner. We only had time to deposit our bags in our room as Manuel wanted to take us to the bird sanctuary. No shower yet...

The lovely pool which was heated, but no one had a chance to try as we rushed past...

The drive to the sanctuary was like a washboard and we were already tired having driven 600 km that day. There were supposed to be flamingos, pelicans, and other birds, but there wasn't a bird in sight. However, there was a breathtaking sunset.

No comments on hair, please, anywhere in this blog. It was bloody hot and most times we had hats stuck on our heads.

Sister Wives at sunset...

It was gorgeous and peaceful...Manuel had a cooler and we all enjoyed a beverage and were happy that we had come to the birdless sanctuary!

Our group photo! Manuel and Mbusi in the middle...

And that was a lovely ending to a long day...

We had a dinner reservation, so there was no time for a shower before dinner. Hopefully tomorrow!

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