Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Amazing African Adventure Day 7

We left the house early this morning in order to get to the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve. We wanted to be there early, b/c then the giraffe would be hungry and would eat right out of our hands. Autumn was super scared of feeding the giraffe. But w/ some help from Papa she overcame that fear and LOVED it. As you can see in this pic, she was laughing w/ joy.
After feeding the giraffe, we started our drive through the nature reserve. That place is huge and I felt like we drove at least 100 miles today when it was all said and done. Dad wanted to stop so he could get a picture of this long-tailed widowbird. As you can see, it has this super long tail that is just beautiful when it takes flight.
 We drove to this animal crèche where we got to see lots of baby animals that were being fed breakfast. The cutest to me was a fat baby hippo. We didn't stay there very long b/c there were big buses full of students coming, so as soon as they got there we took off.
 We saw SEVERAL types of animals, but they're so common & plentiful that I'm not going to post pictures. But we saw springbok, warthogs, water buffalo, kudu, etc. One of the most memorable things we did was go to the "Vulture Restaurant." It's at the top of a hill and is this little stone building you walk into that has small rectangular holes cut into it. It looks out onto this animal graveyard. The stench was so bad that I had to plug my nose, or I would have thrown up. So, now our new family joke is if someone stinks when they toot we call it "VRG" ... vulture restaurant gas.
 Luckily we had time to recover from the stench before we went to a real restaurant and had lunch. When we first walked in, there were 2 wild warthogs running around in the grassy area behind us. The food was surprisingly delicious, and the portions were massive. There was a nice cool breeze, and we kept saying how unbelievable it is that we're in South Africa on the top of a tall hill in the middle of a nature reserve eating lunch, and having all these incredible experiences!  
 After our lunch, we drove over to the predator section of the park to see the lions, wild dogs, and cheetahs get their lunch. We pulled up next to this lion and were about 5 feet away from him! It was a little unnerving to see this big bone in front of him.
As you can see, he was literally right outside the window. It makes you realize that you would be lunch if it weren't for the small panes of glass and the metal van door! We are the invaders in their territory and we are their version of fast food!!!
At 1:00 the park ranger brought a truck through the middle of this big grassy circle to drop off a slab of meat for the lions to eat. They have to chain it to this post, otherwise the first lion there would take off w/ it. These animals are so impressive up close and personal.
After watching the lions for a little bit, we followed the meat truck up to the area where the wild dogs are kept. It was interesting to watch the different packs and see which ones got first pick and which ones held back and got second pick. They were super fast, feisty, and hyper.  We saw a lot of them fighting over the same piece of meat like these 2 dogs.
 After watching the wild dogs for a few minutes we followed the meat car over to the cheetah area. It was wild to see the park ranger just lugging huge slabs of meat over the side of the truck. The wild dogs and cheetahs didn't bother him at all when he got in and out of the truck. I guess they know not to "bite the hand that feeds them."
 After all of that fun & excitement of seeing the predators get fed, we drove around the park some more. We saw this adorable baby zebra w/ its Mama.
In another part of the park that was across the road from the main part of the park, we got to see this baby lion w/ its Mama. It must be just a few weeks old b/c of how small it is, and it still has it's soft downy fur.
We had been looking for rhinos all day, and had seen a few but they were so far off in the distance that we could barely see them w/ binoculars. However, after we left the reserve and were on the road heading home I yelled for Dad to pull over on the shoulder. I saw this baby rhino and its Mama sort of close to the fence. We were able to zoom in close and get this great picture.
It was a long day full of lots and lots of driving and lots and lots of animals. It was a great experience and was so worth it! We came home and had leftovers from our big lunch and also a few leftovers in the fridge. We spent the rest of the night just looking through pictures (between 3 cameras we took 691 pictures today!!!!!!!), working on the puzzle, and doing laundry. We have to go to bed early tonight b/c we have a really early and really full day ahead of us tomorrow.

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