Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Indiana Jones Adventure

This past weekend, I had the privilege to go on a three day safari to finally experience and see the beauty of South Africa. The place we went to is called Imfolozi Park and it is one of the most celebrated game parks in South Africa. I have never been on a safari trip before, and to be quite honest I thought it was going to feel like visiting the San Diego Wild Life park, however, it was completely different. This is a real safari, so no fences, no cages, and anything can happen so we need to make sure we follow the rules. 

Going into the cars, it was seriously like walking on to an Indiana Jones car except no one checks your seat belts and you don't encounter that weird buddha statue thing that they tell you not to look at in the eyes. It's a bumpy car ride and especially Matt's driving is ridiculously fast and he likes to weave in and out very quickly. Which made the drive so much fun when we didn't see animals for about an hour or so. They even have a radio with a walkie talkie, so it literally felt like the Indiana Jones ride. 

Every morning we woke up at 5am and we were able to see this beautiful sunrise. And as Lauren calls it you can see the "Jesus rays", where the sun comes through the clouds and forms different rays of light. It was so amazing to be a part of God's creation. To wake up to a sunrise like this and to be walking around with people who are so wonderful and in love with God. 

My roommate was Kaitlyn and we both got to share this beautiful chalet! Many others got tents, and not like camping tents, more like really sturdy tents with beds and a bathroom attached to it. At times I wished that we could have slept in the tents just for the experience, but I was also blessed to sleep in a chalet where we got nets over our beds so we didn't get eaten up by mosquitos. But I had such a great time rooming with Kaitlyn, she is a nursing major and had such a different perspective on her trip here so far, so being able to have that one-on-one time with her was great. And she is humorous, so we meshed well together.

Our three safari guides were Matt, Nigel, and Reg (my professor). 
1) Matt was the main guide who really knew the park very well. I was in his car the first day and he definitely drives really fast but he probably knew the most about the animals and told us many interesting facts about them. He even told us that he once went swimming with wild elephants. Of course it is dangerous but he explained how he gained respect from the elephants and how they were comfortable around him. He said that was probably one of the best moments in his life.
2) Nigel was the second guide that worked with Matt and I was in his car the second day. He probably drives the slowest out of the three but out of three he was probably the most sarcastic man I've encountered in South Africa. Made me feel a little at home :) He doesn't like lions because they are boring. His reaction to when Reg asked him about leaving the lions was "WHAT? nooooo, why would we leave all this exictement?!" (all with sarcasm..) Oh Nigel, you are one awesome guy. His favorite animal is the cheetah but because he has been on safari for so many years (and he used to be a crocodile hunter, psh crazy cool right?) that he now bird watches. Sounds boring but he says that he likes it because it's more of a challenge, to find birds and to know what type of bird they are.
3) Reg was the last guide who obviously came with us because he is our professor from school. Reg is pretty much like our grandpa who takes care of us kids and he has so much wisdom about everything, And he always wears really neat sweaters, which makes everything that much better. His favorite animals are the cats: lions, cheetahs, and leopards. We didn't get to see any cheetah or leopards, but he was happy to see the lions sleeping in the tree. He told us that sometimes it's better not to see everything we wanted to see because it gives us a reason to come back.

Recap. The animals we saw were:
  • white rhinos
  • lions that sleep in trees (the only pride that does this, so we were very lucky to see that)
  • hyena (that was eating some part of a rhino)
  • dung beetles
  • tortoise
  • impala (like deer)
  • buffalo
  • water buck 
  • giraffes (fun fact: their tongues are about 20 inches and their tongues are blue so they do not get sunburned on a hot day)
  • zebras
  • warthogs (PUMBA!)
  • elephants, lots and lots of elephants :)

So blessed to be a part of this trip, we will be back soon!

Always, Allex


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