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First Safari: South Africa


hannahcat

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hannahcat

@@Tom Kellie Thanks! I think it'll be worth the wait.

 

I'm keeping my eye out for your Leopard Hills experience -- I haven't missed it, have I? Looking forward to hearing what you think about the area.

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It seems that there has been a rash of first timers contributing their new-found enthusiasm to the South Africa forum, and I am very happy to be contributing my voice to that chorus.   Like many peo

First of all, let me say thanks to everyone who recommended, either explicitly or implicitly through their trip report writing, that it's important to take notes. At the time, of course, I thought "th

So, I suppose I should be a bit more methodical about this, and go back a bit to Cape Town.   Michael, my husband, arrived, and within 24 hours had broken his toe in the shower. We did not realize,

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hannahcat

That evening, we again followed a dog hunt. The dogs ran into dense bush, and even though we continued chasing them -- after several other vehicles had turned around -- they were still too fast for us. They made the kill in what felt like two seconds flat, and we caught up with them as they were divvying up the meat. This time, however, they had the pups with them, so we got to see a little interaction with the little ones, which was nice.

 

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One thing that Fred noted about their social structure is that, despite otherwise being pretty joyful-seeming, community-minded animals, they do tend to bully the pups, often for seemingly no reason.

 

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I'm sure it all makes sense to them, though.

 

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hannahcat

Sundowners that evening was at the hippo hole – a watering hole with one hippo and one tree in the middle of it. I would have sworn it was the happiest hippo anywhere – it kept yawning and rolling around in the mud and making gurgling noises while we were there, just like a happy three-year-old in a bath -- until I read the trip report of @@Kitsafari and she reported a similar hippo. Clearly, they're kindred hippo souls.

 

It was a fun sundowner, but I think we were all sad that we were leaving the next day, the honeymooners to go to Cape Town and us back to the U.S.

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michael-ibk

Wonderful Dog sighting!

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I love the lazy hyaena. :D
Fantastic dog and lion sightings too. Carnivores at the table is a viewing that will never get old. The duikers had it bad in your stay!

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@@hannahcat

 

Such a fabulous first safari, and great photography skills also. Those are surely not your only photos ... have you posted them somewhere on web? Care to share the link if so?

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hannahcat

@@xelas What a very sweet comment! Thank you!

 

I do have a ton more photos, though I think I've mostly shared my favorites here. And besides putting the collection of edited photos in a Dropbox account as a backup method, and putting up just a few pictures on National Geographic's Your Shot, I haven't posted them anywhere else. I'd actually be curious, though, if you have another website in mind that you recommend for safari or nature photography.

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What an initiation you have had to safaris. And such luck. Young leopard cub, leopard drinking, wild dogs, wild dogs hunting ... talk about cups running over

 

Well done also with the photography.

 

I'd actually be curious, though, if you have another website in mind that you recommend for safari or nature photography.

 

Flickr has many many skilled wildlife photographers posting. And some truly amazing images too. Just search by any animal and you'd be off to the races.

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Fred said that when you look into the eyes of a lion, all you can see is ponies dying, and I can see what he means.

 

Thank you for a much-needed end of the workday laugh!

 

(Great pictures of the tug of war, too.)

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hannahcat

@@johnkok and @@xelas You know, I had thought about starting a Flickr account ages ago and then just forgot about it. But both of your accounts are really inspiring! @@johnkok, I love your leopard and zebra pictures! @@xelas, your hummingbird pictures are lovely. Once I finish up here, I'll start an account and will post a link. Thanks for reminding me.

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hannahcat

Finally, it was our last game drive, and it was a bit sad -- but also spectacular. We found a whole lion pride (five females, three cubs, four males) on the move towards the river, going for a morning drink. It was hard not to anthropomorphize them -- there were moments when they looked so much like a human family on a long road trip, I could almost hear "are we there yet?" Unfortunately, the cubs in particular looked a little mangey -- perhaps because of the quality of the water they were drinking? It looked awfully murky to me, but maybe that's just using human standards.

 

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hannahcat

I should have mentioned earlier that, after we saw the female leopard flirting with the male leopard, and our Absolutely Fabulous compatriots had seen the two leopards dry humping, others had actually seen the two leopards mating the day before. In fact, the Absolutely Fabulous duo saw the leopards again, this time consummating their flirtation, which lead to some hilarious dinner time discussion of their somewhat scandalous viewing.

 

We were very lucky that we also were able to witness the two leopards mating on the last morning -- actually we witnessed several mating sessions, but they're fast! I only got pictures of the first one.

 

Here is the male leopard:

 

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And here he finds the female:

 

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There was just time for one last coffee by the river and a picture with our new friends. We also got to see a hippo out of water, which looks like one of those things that shouldn't work, but which does and somehow even looks quite genteel at times.

 

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And that would be my last picture of our last drive except, as you know, I've been holding something back from the day before.

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hannahcat

This last post is probably a good part of the reason it's taken me so long to finish this trip report. I've held it till last because I like the symmetry and because it's the most meaningful to me -- and because I usually end up crying when I try to edit these pictures.

 

I started this trip report with a post about losing my father and about Michael's and my first game drive on which we saw a mother leopard and her cub. On the day before we left, we took another trip to see them.

 

I am not generally a mystical person. And yet these moments with these leopards -- the obvious love between them, the Sistine Chapel-like reach and touch between the parent and child -- convinced me more deeply than anything else might have that the love between me and my father was not stopped at death's door and that I carry my father with me wherever I go. To whatever force allowed me to witness those two leopards at that time, I am profoundly grateful.

 

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Thanks to everyone who read, liked, and especially commented on this thread. This really is an extraordinarily kind and supportive community, and I'm so happy to be a part of it.

 

And I'm also happy to be done with my trip report! Now I can read all of your trip reports guilt-free for at least a few months. I am looking forward to reading all of them.

 

 

 

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SafariChick

@@hannahcat wow, those cub and mama photos are just beautiful and so special. I can totally see how you felt as you did - really wonderful! Thanks for a great report full of lovely photos and stories!

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michael-ibk

That has to be the most charming Leopard sequence I've ever seen on Safaritalk - well done! You had a fantastic safari, And I really enjoyed the very high quality of your pictures and your personal writing style. Thank you very much for sharing!

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Towlersonsafari

Simply beautiful!

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Peter Connan

As Michael said, the most charming Leopard photos ever!

 

Especially the ones where they almost seem to be holding hands!

 

Thank you very much for an excellent report.

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@@hannahcat

 

Joining the above members in their comments about the photos. One only would made me proud, you have a whole set of them!

 

As for the love and death, I have lost my father a couple of years ago. Be assured that memories and feelings does not fade with time. Just the opposite, they become stronger, purer, because they are not anymore "obscured" (influenced) by everyday life situations.

Edited by xelas
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@@hannahcat.

What an amazing first safari!

Your writing is really engaging throughout and your photos are excellent

I love the lion family (on this page) - especially the cub batting dad on the nose.

But you did save a real treat for the end - a very touching interaction beautifully photographed

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A very touching and heart-felt finale; and what a finale. A truly excellent series of leopard mother-and-child interactions, made all the more endearing by your words. You have no doubt done your father proud.

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hannahcat

@@SafariChick @@michael-ibk @@Towlersonsafari @@Peter Connan @@xelas @@TonyQ @@johnkok Thank you so much for your comments -- they really mean a lot to me. And I agree that these are just charming pictures, although honestly if they are, it is through no skill of mine. With the possible exception of leaving the lens cap on, I could have done practically anything and gotten great pictures from those two -- it was just total luck of the draw, and a really emotional bit of luck for me. Thanks especially for the comments about my dad, @@xelas and @@johnkok -- I hope and trust what you say is true.

 

Also, I went ahead and re-read my whole trip report from beginning to end last night, and it really stuck out to me that I never properly thanked @@Marks or @@Big_Dog for their ongoing supportive and interesting comments, which was really unconscionably rude of me. So, thank you ever so much -- I really have enjoyed your comments and your fellow love of perhaps the more grisly side of nature.

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Those final leopard photos were fantastic. Yoiu should possibly consider selling a few!
And don't worry about not thanking, it's quite alright!

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Alexander33

@@hannahcat

 

I can only echo what others already have. Those leopard photos are fantastic, but so many other memories and photographs you brought back were as well. Thank you for a beautiful report.

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The continuation of your report was thanks enough! :)

Your final leopard moment is beautiful. Those moments can mean so much; I'm glad you were able to find comfort there (and to share the images and story with us).

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