This is not a tale of bunnies, but of something much bigger... Valentine's Day. And elephants. There were some of those, too. Kathy and I decided to treat our long weekend in February as a Valentine's Day getaway, and we chose Addo Elephant National Park as our destination. On our first day, though, we went to Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary, where whilst enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee, I discovered these rabbits.
After the coffee, and admiring just how cute rabbits can be, we were off to the main event: the elephants. It began with a show, during which four elephants demonstrated their comprehension of verbal instructions:
But, truth be told, we were not there to watch the elephants, but... to ride them! Seriously. Here I am just after securing my seat, with the help of Heward, my guide:
Talk about the experience of a lifetime! Even just the short ride we took, watching the blesbok run by and admiring the view -all from the back of an elephant - felt absolutely exhilarating:Later, we got to feed them:
On our way to our lodge, Chrislin, we passed a field where we spotted this lonely elephant...
It is rather remarkable to be driving along, look out, and see a parade of elephants! (That is the proper term.)
Our second full day, we went on a guided game drive, along with two other folks: one from Germany and one from Colombia. (We ended up dining with the latter that evening and quite enjoyed his company. He was a very talkative but also very interesting microbiologist who teaches at the University of British Columbia.) We began our drive by spotting this kudu:
Soon after, we spotted this Cape buffalo:
Later, we saw this pale chanting gosshawk:
And this dung beetle:
This ostrich was fascinating to watch, the way it moved and the shapes it took as it shifted its head and neck:
Our guide, Brett, a South African, pronounced it "zeh-bruh", but here the last letter of the alphabet is "zed", not "zee". And, regardless of how you pronounce it, it is a notable moment when you realize how close they are:
Then, we came across these rather laid back red hartebeests:
And, lest you thought the dung beetle was merely a bug, I present evidence that they are among the park's most honored and respected residents:
Also, while in one sense the zebras were cool, in another, they were not. This poor young one had had enough of the heat! (It was ok, though. We saw it move later. Just in case you were worried.)
Another buffalo peaked out to examine us:
It was apparently waiting for the watering hole to free up. I think of this as queues of the animal kingdom...
After the elephant left, it began to peak out. What was it? A black-backed jackal. They are rare enough that our guide got more excited than at any other time during the day:
If you look closely, you can see that it has a patch on its back that really looks like a small, rectangular, black and white blanket:
And speaking of patterned backs, here is a leopard tortoise:
And more red hartebeests:
A secretary bird (too far off, I know, but we were happy to see one at any distance):
And a buffalo demonstrating the proper use of a mud hole:
Evening eventually forced us to head back to the lodge: