Monday, July 26, 2010

Safari Adventures

This posting is a day late due to the internet service being down when we returned from dinner on Sunday night. 
Greetings from Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve ( in Rustenburg, South Africa. I left you last night with a promise to be brief in today’s posting, so I’ll do what I can to be true to my word.

Marybeth Gasman, the faculty member from Penn who leads this trip, has commented numerous times that she schedules the cities we visit and the places we experience with a very intentional sequencing, and I now understand why. The early natural beauty of the Cape Town area was a great way to ease into the South African experience. The Johannesburg area visit, including the time we spent at University of Pretoria and in particular in Kliptown, was intense and extremely draining on the emotions. Finishing the trip with a stay at the Kwa Maritime Lodge ( and going on safari in Pilanesberg were perfect to finish off a week and a half’s experiences that have changed all of us for life.

As has been the case many times throughout this journey, I’m pressed for words to describe the safari experience, but incredible, awe inspiring, and invigorating all come to mind. If you’ve ever been on safari, you will understand. In South Africa, when one goes on safari the goal is to see the Big 5 for animals: the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, and cape buffalo comprise the group due to how difficult it is to hunt and bring down each of them. The only hunting that was occurring during our game drive this afternoon was for pictures and the experience versus for hides or meat. We saw 2 of the Big 5 (elephants and rhinos), as well as wildebeests, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, springboks, and numerous other members of the antelope/deer family. It was stunning. I've included a couple of photos I took.

Our safari ended with a group dinner, in the middle of the Park, at Kwa Mazout. Kwa Mazout is encircled by a fence, to protect you from any of the prowling animals. The dinner features traditional African fare, served buffet style. The food and drink was terrific, and after eating everyone gathered around the fire and reflected on the trip’s experiences. It was a wonderful way to spend our last night together before flying back tomorrow night. An optional safari, tomorrow morning, was made available to us. So we will again get to go searching for the Big 5. If time permits, I’ll send a note from the Johannesburg airport tomorrow before we take off.

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