Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Selous - Day 2 PM

After we left the lions, we drove a few kilometers and parked under a big, beautiful tree.  Our guide stood up, did a comprehensive 360 degree scan of the area, and proclaimed it safe for dining.  He proceeded to set up our bush lunch, which is a bit of a misnomer for the lovely experience that followed.  We dined on gourmet beef and chicken wraps, cashews, orange cake, veggie sandwiches, and oranges.  We dined in wooden camp chairs with a checkered tablecloth-covered camp table.  It doesn't get much nicer than that!  Our safari vehicle had a cooler built into the console in between two of the seats, so we were never without cold drinks (and, it turned out, cold chocolate bars!).

After a relaxing and delicious lunch in a beautiful setting we took off once again.  Less than a kilometer from our lunch spot we spotted a lone hyena sleeping under a tree.  As was par for the course, he loped away from us as we approached.  Still, he left slowly, giving us great opportunities to marvel at his curious beauty.

A few kilometers later we encountered a small herd of kudu - abundant in Selous but rarely seen.  There were two males and several females and young.  They moved away slowly enough for us to get some great photographs of them and observe their gorgeous stripes and unique antlers.

We spotted a few more gaggles of giraffes and impala herds and finally a large buffalo herd.  The buffalo turned and looked at us, and we in turn stared at them.  They're such funny animals in herds, really.  Solitary males - often referred to as retired generals - are insecure and extremely dangerous, but herds have security in numbers and are generally pretty docile.  And, apparently, skittish.  It was silent, and all was calm, when all of a sudden D sneezed.  Loudly.  As one, the herd turned tail and thundered away from us.  I believe this moment was one of my trip highlights - it was so improbable to see such a large group of huge mammals frightened by a sneeze.

We slowly made our way back to the lodge, having driven about 55 km away during the course of the day.  We passed the gravesite of Frederick Selous, the namesake of the park, and enjoyed a short, light rainstorm.  As we approached the dead giraffe from the morning we noticed a few vultures roosting in the tree and then spotted another hyena, lying serenely in the bush.  This one had a friend, who was busily chomping down on giraffe remains as we drove by.

As we headed back up the mountain we drove over a small stream.  This really was a very small body of water.  As we passed, movement caught our eye, and we were astonished to see a large croc surface and then slowly immerse itself once again.  It didn't seem there was enough water to even cover it, but it managed to hide quite well.

We continued on past the cicada forest and were in a wooded valley when we once again all smelled death.  Our guide said, casually, that we smelled a lion who had died a week prior on the road and had been dragged into the woods by several guides. 

The rest of our drive was fairly uneventful, though at one point I looked to my left, caught a blur of black and white, and calmly mentioned that I spotted zebras.  We had not seen any of these elusive ungulates yet, and these were grazing on a wooded hillside with giraffes for company/protection.  We didn't have good visibility, but it was a still a fun sighting. 

After arriving back at the lodge, we went to our respective cabins to relax.  I sat by the A/C and finished the new Bridget Jones book (a fun vacation read) before heading back to the main dining area for sundowners and dinner.

Dinner was similarly spectacular to the previous evenings, and we retired to bed not too long afterward.  I took another nighttime outdoor shower, though this one had a scary moment when a lizard and I caught each other's eyes and scared each other with our presence.  I did sleep quite well, though, despite the fright.

Bush lunch

Lunch with a view



Running baby kudu

One of my favorite photos of the trip

Well hello there

Running giraffe, and wildebeest. I forgot to mention we saw wildebeest!

This is the herd who ran at the sound of a sneeze

Selous' gravesite

Sleepy hyena

Eating giraffe

Running away with its prize

Crocodile in a small stream


An unlikely pair

And there they go...

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