One of several nicknames I was given as a 17 year old exchange student living in South Africa was (translated) “Giraffe Woman.” I would like to think that it was my graceful walk, relaxed demeanor or lovely eyes or lashes that earned me the name, but I suspect it was my height (6 foot tall).
Regardless, the giraffe is one of my favorite animals and one of my favorite sightings of a giraffe happened on what to that point had been a fairly uneventful game drive. I can’t recall the location, although it must have been southern Africa.
When we came around a bend in the road, the area was fairly heavily wooded and to our utter amazement and surprise (not very far from our location) witnessed the very last moments of the birth of a baby giraffe. What a privilege, I have photographic proof, only the memory of how it made me feel to see such a unique thing.
Moral of the story: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT A DAY ON SAFARI MIGHT BRING.
Spending Time With Mountain Gorillas
Spending 1 hour with the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and/or Rwanda ranks as one of my most profound animal encounters. Maybe it was the great effort and exertion it took to get to where they were located. It was not like a game drive where you just sat in a vehicle and drove around until you found something. I earned it by trekking through the rain, and mud, up the hills and into the valleys, through the vines, avoiding the nettles and biting ants. Thanks heavens for my porter who lugged all my water and camera gear and gave me a helping hand too!
But the reward was so unique. I found myself a few feet away from the King (and Queens) of the jungle. In retrospect the best thing that could have happened was when I ran out of space on my camera memory chip and put the machine away and looked at the individual gorillas and their family group as a whole and not through the tiny view on the camera. That was when I saw the tiny rain droplets on their fur and heard them chomping on their lunch of leaves and watched a young cheeky juvenile push another one of the hikers all while his mother watched in the distance. WOW!
White Shark Projects (WSP) was an experience that has been on my bucket list since I was a child. Although we had a very early departure, 5:00am, it was well worth the sacrifice of a few hours of sleep. The transfer to Gansbaai was about 2 hours after leaving The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa. Once at the White Shark Projects shop, we were given a breakfast and a briefing by the marine biologist. The briefing was great; he explained the sharks’ behavior and gave tons of information from migration to eating habits.
When we left the harbor, it was about a 30 minute ride to the dive site. The crew threw the hook in the water, they then put the shark cage in the water and tied it off to the side of the boat. The cage was about 8’ tall and 3’ deep and 12’ wide. It was about 10-15 minutes until the sharks showed up. Once the sharks showed up, 6 people at a time went into the cage.
WSP provided wet suits with hoods, booties and a mask, so all you needed was a swimsuit. Once in the cage, they shut the top and the cage sat 2’ above the water. We stood in the cage on bars and when the sharks swam by we would hold our breath and go under water to watch the sharks swim by.
This was an experience that everyone should have if they are at all interested in the ocean and its animals. I learned so much about the Aquatic Big Five of South Africa, (whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins) on this trip. We saw over ten sharks ranging from 10’-16’.
There are two-three trips a day one at 8am, one at noon and one later in the afternoon. I would definitely do the morning run as seas are more likely to be calmer because the winds haven’t started to blow and the sharks were very active