Next Stop, Zulu Nyala

The next leg of our trip took us from Johannesburg to Durban, via plane, followed by a three-hour car ride to our destination, Zulu Nyala. Cutting it close once again we arrived with only 20 minutes to spare before our first excursion. Suitcases dropped off in our tent, we skipped/ran back to the main entrance where eight of us plus Chris, our guide for the week, ventured off in our eleven passenger, open jeep. Bill and I took our place, as we did most of the week, in the last row, over the back tires; we bounced in our seats as we drove over rocks and roots, gulleys and ruts.

Pulling out of the driveway, Chris drove down the dirt road toward the fenced-in reserve across the street. The metal gate slid open, allowing our entrance and our first view of the 4,000 acre reserve, cameras at the ready. We saw hippos, rhinos, nyalas, impalas, warthogs, zebras, giraffes. With every new sighting the eight of us oohed and aahed.

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hippos

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hippos and warthogs

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Male nyalas rub their horns in dirt to make them look bigger.

At one point, Chris jumped out of the jeep to show us where a rhino had been poached years before, its bones left to decompose back into the earth. I’d heard of rhino poaching but didn’t know much; Chris told us it’s right up there with drugs and human trafficking. After seeing some of the poverty in South Africa I could almost understand how the lure of thousands of dollars per horn would be enticing for some. During the week we were given beaded bracelets adorned with a small coin-shaped metal bead stamped with a rhino in observance of World Rhino Day.

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Save the Rhinos

Talking quietly into his radio, in Zulu or Afrikaans, to the other guides for updates on the animals’ whereabouts, Chris drove us around the reserve for the next two hours, stopping whenever we came across a group of animals or one of us shouted for him to stop. He assured us, after seeing our first nyala, zebra, giraffe, we’d see many more before the week was over. We jerked our heads left to right, in front and behind, afraid to miss anything.

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Grazing

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Rhino, warthogs, zebra and nyala. Because of the drought they’ve been getting fed.

That part of South Africa is in a drought, they haven’t had significant rainfall in 18 months; it was hot and humid even though their Spring is just beginning. By the end of our morning excursions we were happy to shed our jackets, let the sun warm our bare arms and shorts-wearing legs. The truck’s tires kicked up dry brown dust as did Chris’ boots when he’d periodically hop out of the jeep to point out animal tracks or dung. When Bill rinsed out his baseball hat in the sink at the end of the week the water turned the color of strong tea.

As we rounded a bend Chris spotted the cheetah relaxing just off the road. He pulled the jeep over and we proceeded to take more photos of the beautiful and regal cat than was necessary.

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Alert

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just yawning

Zulu Nyala doesn’t have lions; we would have to go to another reserve if we wanted to see them. We all wanted to spot an elephant or leopard; it wasn’t to be our first day but we had five more days to go. And little did we know what the cheetah still had in store for us.

We wrapped up our first day eating dinner with our new friends from Country Manor. Laura and Gregg, who we met the night before and who had arrived after we’d left for our first excursion, would be rounding out our group of, now, ten. We went to bed early, excited about our 6:00 am morning excursion, wondering what the day would have in store for us.

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Cape Buffalo

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Warthogs

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The view from our porch

28 replies

    • Thanks, Jill. I wrote about our experiences at the end of every day for the first time ever. I promise not to bore you with all of it. 🙂 I’ll be uploading Bill’s pictures this weekend, they are amazing! I’ll probably post some here and on FB. Have a great weekend!

  1. Oh thanks for this wonderful story and images. I feel like I was right there in the truck with you, bouncing through the dust. I love the cheetah…ahd the warthog on it’s knees, as if in prayer. As I read this, I was thinking of the trip my mom took to Africa before she became ill. It was a photo safari from horseback. I also began thinking that I really should put this on my bucket list.

    • We went out once on foot in the reserve which was great but from horseback must have amazing. The dollar is so strong over there right now that I think you must try to get there soon! 🙂

  2. Great Ger reading about your adventure. It was a fabulous experience and you have recorded so well, we can revisit with you and enjoy it. PS: Glad you and Bill are home safe and sound. Have heard some stories about those rhinos! xo Mom

  3. That must have been fabulous to see all these exotic animals. And so up close too. Love the cheetah pics. Are these animals tame? It looks like you two had some amazing experiences Geralyn. Experiences that I’m sure you will never forget.
    🙂

    • They’re not tame but most of them are used to vehicles. There was a mom and baby white rhino who were new to the reserve and weren’t really used to that yet. And, the day after we left they were dropping 2 black rhinos in the reserve and were going to try to leave them alone until they acclimated. We really had a wonderful time, Staci. Thanks!

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