Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 2 (Morning): OUR AFRICAN SAFARI - TANGALA: Breaking Dawn

Monday 22nd April 2013
Breaking Dawn

At 4am I wake up with a start.
 “Did you hear that?” I ask ‘The Boss’.
 “What?”, he asks sleepily. 
“That sound?” 
The familiar, deep and hollow call of a male lion drifts through the bush.  
“There it is again!” The boss seems oblivious.  
Soon silence descends and I shudder. I look through the window.  Ghostly shadows of dappled moonlight add to my nervousness.  
“Go back to sleep,” he murmurs and resumes his snoring. 
I can’t.  
The bush is calling…

I lie awake and wait.  Fifteen minutes later, I hear the lion again.  If you have not heard the call of a lion before, it’s something to experience.  The sound resonates across the landscape and stamps its authority on the world.  The ‘King of the jungle’ doesn’t go by that name for nothing. This time, however, the sound is a little different – a distant roar, followed by hollow grunts.  I’ve not heard this particular roar before, but then again, I’m not that intimate with lions.

 By 4.30am I can’t stay in bed any longer although it’s still really dark.  I rise, grab my torch and light the small paraffin lamp next to my bed.  It’s time for a warm shower to ease my nerves.  Perhaps it’s also the opportunity to venture onto the deck and truly experience the African dawn.  I get dressed, grab my torch and venture outside.  The Boss is fast asleep.

 Our wake-up call is at 5.30 – only half an hour away - and coffee/tea is served at 6am, so the kitchen staff should be busy already. It’s really chilly outside and I zip up my jacket tightly and make my way to the deck. 

As I sit outside on the deck, the beauty of the early dawn greets me.  A million stars blink down at me.  The milky way shines across the sky – it’s crystal clear and magical.  The southern cross (a guide to us in the south) lies close to the horizon – another indicator of the impending dawn -  and a shooting star paints its silver trail across the sky. I hold my breath in awe. 

Besides the stars, it’s still extremely dark but as the minutes tick by, the hue of the rising dawn illuminates recognizable shapes – the tree next to the water hole, the anthill in the field.  

 The orchestra of cicada beetles that has been buzzing throughout the night, continues its vigil.  Their rhythmical buzzing rings out across the landscape.  I take a moment to absorb their music.  It seems that they have adopted the rhythm en masse.  If I were a conductor, I would be pointing my baton to the right, then to the left and they would be obliging.  But soon the rhythm changes – these beetles are oblivious of their collective cycle. The symphony of the bush continues.

The two resident Blacksmith Plovers (Lapwings) suddenly shriek out their own early morning angst - they have eggs to protect.  This if followed by the stark calls of two Francolins in the bush. 

Above: Francolin

These birds are very loud and I jump in fright then settle back in amusement.  The landscape is waking up fast.  The warthogs, too, are starting to move.  A domestic squabble breaks out and disturbs the peace for a good minute and the sky is getting lighter as this is all happening.  Our lion continues to roar, but he seems to be moving further and further away. I know many other animals are also on the move.
Above: Yellow-billed hornbill checking their reflection in the window.

Next the hornbills wake and coo to the world, then the waxbills and the finches.  Impala rams break out in a clash of grunts – it’s rutting season and the fight for dominance over the herd begins early.  The bush is alive with sound.  I feel so privileged to be experiencing this and can’t wait to see what more the day offers…

There's so much to tell about our early morning game-drive, but this time I think the photos should speak for themselves ...

Above:  Early morning beverage by the fireside.
 Above: Kudu bull
Above: Giraffe
Above: Dwarf Mongoose
Above: Shrikes
 Above: Rhinocerous mother and calf
 Above: Buffalo
 Above: "Ditto"

 Above: Impala crossing the road

Above: Ticks on Buffalo

 Above: Oxpeckers enjoying a feast of ticks.
 Above:  "Oops, the vehicle won't start."

 Above: Buffalo bull drinking

Many thanks to the incredible trackers and rangers at
Your tracking skills are extra-ordinary!
Thank you!

Sending lotsaluv to all our friends around the world.


Furry Bottoms said...

INCREDIBLE!!!!! I loved living vicariously through you!

NanaNor's said...

My dear friend, What wonderful photos! How I envy your trip to the bush. How amazing it would be to hear the Lion's roar. I think I may just have to jump into Avril's suitcase next time she comes home.
Thank you for sharing your magnificent holiday with us!!
Love, Noreen

WFT Nobby said...

Love the description of the noises at dawn. I'm curious to know how long it is between complete darkness and daylight in that part of the world? (I know it all happens much faster than the long dawns and dusks we experience at our relatively high latitudes in Scotland).
The Kudu bull is a handsome beast.
Less so, the ticks! Do they feed off humans too?

My Dog Sam - Ruptured Disk said...

Hi Maxmom, oh those photos are so good. We love the animal pictures, the ticks...not so much. The narrative is good too.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Moms been looking at your blog and pictures a zillion times . Nice!
Benny & Lily

Mrs. JP said...

Wow, aren't you glad you got up? You would have missed the glory of the sunrise and the shooting star. Those oxpeckers are brilliant birds and most welcome I'm sure. It looks like you had a swell time.

How Sam Sees It said...

Oh beautiful!


Dandy Duke said...

Such incredible pictures! We're happy to know that there are birdies that eat yucky ticks!

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

Tweedles -- that's me said...

woweee!! the photos are great!

MySpecialDoggies said...

Beautiful pictures & landscapes & animals. You're so privileged to be able to enjoy nature so close to home!

Nadine & goldens Neeli & Elle

Beth said...

What a fantastic trip! Loved your first photo, love the animals and seeing you and your honey relaxing. I hope I can see the wildlife in Africa someday, and I don't mean in the zoo! Kind of a pipe dream right now...but dreams do sometimes come true! Hope you are well, Caryl.
xo Beth

Joanhuddleston said...

thanks! I do love your description of the morning. going in September. how many days did we stay. we are staying 5 nights. it must be wonderful. I can't imagine how it must be but am thrilled. thanks so much for the beautiful photos.
Joan in Seattle