Sunday, February 21, 2016

Amazing African Adventure Day 11

WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT!!! Avert your eyes if bloody things make you queasy! 

 Carine came and knocked on our door this morning at 4:50 to make sure we were awake. We got dressed, had a few muffins for breakfast, and headed off on our first morning safari drive. The sunrise was so pretty!

 The big "find" of the morning was a pride of 3 lionesses and 4 cubs. Carine told us it was a grandma w/ her 2 daughters. One of daughters has 3 older boy cubs (they are a few months old) and the other daughter had 3 cubs but 2 of them must have died b/c now she only has 1 baby cub (it's a few weeks old). I had to keep reminding myself not to focus on the fact that we're in an open vehicle and those Mama lionesses could come and attack us at a moment's notice if they wanted to!

 We followed 2 of the boy cubs who are a few months old. They walked through the grass to this wildebeest that the lionesses had taken down earlier this morning! It was surreal to sit and watch them eat the insides of the wildebeest and hear them ripping and gnawing at the cartilage and sinews. I asked Autumn what she thought and she said, "COOL!" 

 This was the picturesque place Carine stopped for us to have our morning break. We had hot chocolate & rusk (biscotti). The kitchen staff had also packed some sugar free cookies for Mom! They really think of everything.
This is what our greeting was when we got back from our morning drive. Stefan & Gregg were waiting for us w/ cold washcloths, and shot glasses of orange juice!

 We had an amazing breakfast spread, and in addition to all the cereals, yogurts, meats, cheeses, and crackers; Lawra took our orders for how we wanted our eggs, bacon, and hash browns.
 After breakfast we loaded in the car (Mom opted to stay at the hotel) and we drove about 20 minutes north to the Botswana border. Before our trip I looked up on the map where Madikwe is, and was so excited to see that it shares a border w/ Botswana. Since we were so close I said we had to go and get another stamp in our passport. I thought we were just going to drive up to the border, hand them our passports, get a stamp, and go on through. NOPE! It was a big ordeal.

We had to go into a non air conditioned building, fill out some forms, wait in line, go to another building, and pay a fee just to leave South Africa. Then we had to repeat the same process to get into Botswana. When we were turning in the forms to get into Botswana the border agent asked us where we would be staying. We told her we were only going to be there for a few hours and then we'd be coming back to South Africa. She was confused and wrote down that we were staying at some hotel. LOL!

After about an hour we finally made it across the border and into Botswana! We noticed that there were a lot of cows, goats, and other livestock that were just grazing along the shoulder of the highway. Definitely not something you'd see regularly in America.
We drove towards Gabarone, but as we started to get closer to some big buildings Lexie said we should turn around b/c she was nervous. It gave her anxiety to have to go through all those steps just to get into Botswana, and she kept asking who we would call for help if something bad happened. So, we avoided downtown and went back to this shopping plaza we saw called The Riverwalk. We joked that we had to come all the way to the other side of the world to see "The Riverwalk" instead of just going to the one in San Antonio.
We were hoping to find a postcard or souvenir to remind us of our short trip to Botswana. But, we couldn't find anything. We walked around this outdoor mall for a while and finally stopped at a grocery store to get an ice cream b/c it was so stinkin' hot.

We were in Botswana for less than 2hours, but I was so happy b/c I got 4 stamps in my passport instead of just one! Lexie was so relieved to be back "home" in South Africa where she knew we could call someone to help us if we got into trouble w/ the law. LOL!
When we got back to the hotel, we had a few hours to kill before our 4:00 safari drive. The kids talked Papa into getting into the pool w/ them. The water in the pool is really cold at first, but after a few minutes you adjust to it and it feels good. Can you believe they are swimming just a football field away from an elephant?!?!
Our big find for this safari drive was in this tree. I'm so thankful that all the safari drivers in the park have radio/walkie talkies so they can tell each other about cool things they find. One of the other drivers told Carine that we needed to come check out this tree. If you didn't know what you were looking for, you would never have seen this ...
... a leopard! It was on a branch way up high in the tree. In another tree about 50 feet away there was a dead impala that it had killed and dragged up into the tree to eat. I guess this leopard was full and was just taking an afternoon nap in the shade of the tree to stay cool. We were glad Carine showed it to us, b/c that means we've seen all 5 of the "Big Five" (elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, lion, and leopard). They are called the "Big Five" b/c they were the most dangerous for trophy hunters to hunt and kill on foot.
 As we were driving around more of the park, we found this MASSIVE termite mound. Carine said it was OK for the kids to get out of the vehicle for a quick picture by it. We liked it b/c the spires on top made it look like a castle.
 This was the place we stopped for our evening snack. I am amazed at how different the landscapes in the park are. We'll go from driving on red dirt to brown dirt to gray dirt. We were surprised how much greenery/grass there was in this spot.
For dinner tonight we got to dine on the lawn. The table is always set so fancy! For dinner tonight most of us had the ostrich filets. They were super flavorful and good. We had to banish the 2 kids to their own table up on the patio b/c they kept FREAKING OUT at all the moths that were flying around. The moths were pretty big and would land on our food. We would just shew them away but the kids would scream and flail their arms around like crazy. What another amazing African safari day!
I totally forgot that today was Sunday, b/c my days are so mixed up here. It's mind boggling to think that one week ago today we were attending church in Protea Glen, this Sunday we're on an African safari, and next Sunday we'll be back in the USA and will be attending our regular ward!

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