I woke up yesterday and saw a giraffe. In the wild. Like, not a fake one or a sad one at the zoo. I saw a real giraffe in the wild. This is cause for two blog posts in one night.
Yesterday, Maya, Marie (my new friend who is also on a fellowship) and her friend Wasim, went to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. It’s located right outside of Gaborone and is the area in which I ran last weekend. Mokolodi offers giraffe and rhino tracking, game drives, champagne brunch and game drives (!) and many other educational opportunities. They have a variety of animals but lions and tigers are not among them. As you hopefully saw in my pictures from my run last week, Mokolodi is a beauuuuutiful area. Especially, right now. It’s so green and thick. The rolling hills break up the flatness of Gaborone and are enchanting. The weather was perfect yesterday and to be quite honest, I would have been happy just driving around the reserve looking at trees and sand. (Even the sand is pretty).
We went on a two hour game drive in a huge (like 16 person) game drive jeep. Unfortunately, two small children sat right behind me and screamed almost the entire way. Note to parents: children should NOT go on game drives. I see why most safari companies have age requirements. I also see why I don’t have children. Anyways, our guide stopped at various points throughout the two hours to tell us about the animals, trees and plants we saw on along the way. While I figured it would be nearly impossible to actually see the rhinos or jaguars (which the reserve does have) we did see a giraffe, kudu, impala and warthogs. Now, I’m not a science person. I couldn’t really tell you squat about these wild animals but I can tell you what I observed:
Giraffe: Beautiful. And he knew it. It was like he was modeling for us. I felt like the dumb tourists on the movie Madagascar snapping away with my phone but he, and the environment he was in, was too beautiful not to. If only my pictures could do it justice. He had a very dark brown coat and awkward legs. Which is probably why he was chillin’ behind a bush. Because he was so self-conscious about his skinny legs. My sister has skinny legs, not giraffe skinny, but skinny. She likes her skinny legs though.
Impala: They were everywhere. Seriously, like millions of them. They are basically deer. All I could think about was how much my brothers would love to shoot one.
Kudu: We saw quite a few Kudu as well. They were ginormous! Apparently, they are the second largest in the antelope family?? (I might have made this up, don’t quote me). They looked sort of like a camel with a few stripes. They BOUNCED when they ran. I didn’t think a huge creature like that could have hops but I guess there is hope for me yet.
Finally, the warthogs: OMGOMGOMGOMG. I saw Pumba! I also, like an idiot, didn’t realize that Pumba in Swahili meant warthog and Simba meant lion. Disney actually was trying to teach me something! Anyways, I saw a mom warthog and three little baby warthogs. It took all my willpower not to jump off that jeep and hug them. THEY WERE SO STINKIN’ CUTE. I mean, the mom definitely wanted to fight us, but they were one of the highlights of the reserve. Fun fact: due to their short necks, they kneel on the front legs to eat. Isn’t that cute? Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pics as they were on the other side of the jeep but I’m hoping to see those cute little pumbas again.
We stopped on our way back to the lodge to rest at a man made lake and eat some snacks. While there, we saw a giant sign that said “Beware of Crocodiles”. Believe it or not, I can read. I also can listen to the directions. I wasn’t going near that lake but then the guide said don’t worrrrry about it. If the crocodiles wanted you, you’d be gone already. Oh, sweet. Thanks dude–makes me feel soooo much better. I didn’t see any crocs and we finished up our drive. It was awesome. It was so awesome that in a few weeks, I’m going to go Rhino trekking with Marie. Essentially, two rangers take a small group out in a jeep. They find the most recent rhino tracks and then from there, you get out and hike/track through the bush until you see them. This could take HOURS. But, they’ve been successful every time they’ve gone out. It’s going to be epic! I’ve also got a few more safari trips planned in the future, so by the time I’m finished here, I should be a total pro. (At least I should be a total pro at wearing khaki).
After today’s run near Gabane, I was reminded yet again of the unreal beauty of Botswana (and I’ve only seen a small part of it). I wish I could transport all of you here so you could witness it first-hand because pictures truly do it no justice. (Especially my crappy iPhone pictures). The area I ran in today reminded me of Minnesota. There were rolling hills, lush forests, and little farms that dotted the route. There were even cornfields! I saw plenty of cows and goats that even I had to remember where I was. While the running totally sucked, the views were yet again, worth it.
Going outside when it’s 80 degrees is pretty cool. Going outside and seeing wild animals is pretty cool. Running is still not cool, but the cows I see while running are pretty cool. Life has been pretty cool these past two weeks. I’m excited to see what happens this week!
Photos of the week here: https://goo.gl/photos/FhhNMn63u4TxeRkU7