Today was another early morning but this time, 200% worth it. We reported to the game vehicles at 7am after some coffee and set out for our sunrise drive, searching for every animal that we had missed the day before. Our first hit was the two elephants kept in the park. Unfortunately, this reserve is only 8 combined farms and about 2000 hectares (~5000 acres) whereas other parks like Kruger (northeast South Africa) are more than 4 million hectares. Because of its small size, it cannot sustain free-roaming elephants or lions (legally) and, instead, has those two species cordoned off and taken care of by highly trained zookeepers. For the first time, this park felt more like a park than nature by having these animals contained. However, the elephants and lions were all rescued from hunting lodges and rehabilitated/socialized so I guess it’s all for the greater good. We watched the elephants eat their breakfast (lots of grass) with the sunrise behind them and it was the definition of a money shot (see below for proof).
Next, it was onto more ostriches, zebras, lions, antelope, then, finally, the giraffes. I learned more wildlife facts than I can remember and absolutely basked in the beauty of these animals all while witnessing the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. It was pink, blue, orange, and cast shadows over the lateral acacia trees to create a surreal vista. If you remember the beginning of “The Lion King”, that’s exactly what this morning felt like. The biggest animal highlight of the morning was the giraffes who walked right next to our vehicle. They’re so friendly and so majestic! See below video for our giraffe escort (sorry it’s huge)
After we returned to the lodge, we had a wonderful breakfast of omelets, fresh fruit, toast, and the like. On our way out, we hit up the gift shop for some animal shirts and many postcards. We hopped back on our shuttle and begrudgingly headed back to Cape Town. I’ve spent the rest of the afternoon grocery shopping, catching up on the blog (sorry, fans), and watching Mad Men. It’s time to sign off so the Xhosa word of the day is “giraffe”: indlulamathi.