Africa - August 19, 2012

Got an early start, loading up the truck and heading out at 5 a.m. The landscape in this section of the desert is the same as far as the eye can see -- gnarled, thorny, barren acacia trees, scrub brush, and tall grasses. Monotonous yet mesmerizing. Staring at it for hours on end from the bus, it's impossible not to drift in and out of sleep so much that you begin to wonder what's real and what is a dream.*

Arrived late afternoon in the Khama Rhino Sanctuary where we quickly set up camp and hopped on an open-air jeep. Animals spotted: white rhino, gemsbok,** springbok, steenbok, impala, kori bustard, red-billed oxpecker, yellow-billed hornbill, and did I mention rhinos? Winner of Today's Most Beautiful Animal Award goes to the gemsbok. Watched the sun set over the Kalahari as a white rhino and her calf drank water from a pond 50m away.***

We had been warned of temperature extremes in the desert, but nothing prepared me for the total and instant loss of heat when the sun vanishes. Upon reaching camp, I put on four layers of clothes and spent the evening sitting around the campfire with our tourmates, all of whom are about 30-40 years old, well-traveled, and lots of fun. Turned in early to rest up for tomorrow's trip to Maun.

The gemsbok (or oryx) ain't scared of no white rhinoceros. We, however, stayed well away.
Brad's footnotes:
* We actually did better at staying awake than most groups, Gerrit told us later. Most are lights-out in 5 minutes, and many of us chatted for hours. It's a good group.
** I knew this animal by its other name, the oryx. The horns are incredible.
*** Our group split into two for the game drive, and we hear the other group saw zebras and the rarer black rhino. But they didn't get the oryx. So, sucks for them.

No comments: