Home again, home again, jiggity jig
It sounds good, but getting home is no jiggity jig.
Drive 45 minutes from the lodge to Hoekspruit Airport. Sit around almost 2 hours, then fly to Johannesburg. Wait 6 hours, then get on the plane and fly almost 16 hours to Atlanta. Clear immigration, pass through customs, re-check luggage, go through security for the third time, take the train to the far end of the airport, board the next flight, fly 5 more hours to SFO, collect luggage and make it home, 34 hours after we got in the van to leave. Our guide drove us, which made for a pleasant ride and a good chance to give him his tip. That worked well for all of us.
The whole trip was great, every last little bit of it. I got to spend a day with a pro taking photos in places I could never go alone. We saw elephants, rhino, giraffe, water buffalo, impala, eagles, hammerkops and one damned lion.
Finding this miserable old lion was a major effort–our faithful tracker, Foster, and two other trackers, set out early to find something, anything, leonine. They trudged through the underbrush until they found Simba here, then radioed out so we could link up with them.
Normally, Foster sat in the tracker’s chair mounted on the front of our Toyota Land Cruiser. While he was off chasing lion tracks, somebody usurped it.
We saw some more giraffes:
The ostrich doesn’t really bury its head in the sand, it just looks that way sometimes.
Like social climbers who affect a British accent for life after one short trip to London, we have all decided we must pronounce the name of the striped animal “zebbrah”, not “zeebra”. Whichever you choose, they’re fun to look at and their babies are cute.
After an afternoon of lion hunting, we had sundowners by a lake, then wandered home in the dark, with Foster shining a very bright light into the trees and bushes to see what could be found in the dark. His impressive skills turned up a galago, or bush baby. This is a tiny, nocturnal, tree dwelling primate, hard to see even if you know what you are looking for.
There was also a giant owl in a tree:
There was one more thing I wanted get a picture of–the sky. There is no light pollution out there in the middle of nowhere, so you can see more stars than you’ve seen since your last Boy Scout camping trip. Plus, it’s the southern hemisphere so the stars are different–no big dipper.
Getting there is exhausting, coming home is at least as bad. Being there is heaven. We had a spectacular time, saw things we’ll never see again, loved being with family and friends. Life is good.