Friday, September 4, 2015

South Africa 2015 - September 3, Zulu Nyala

South Africa 2015 - September 3, Zulu Nyala and Bayete Zulu

This was the 4th day of our 7 day stay at Zulu Nyala.  Our game drive started at 0615 AM SAST so we could go see the Cheetah being a little more active than yesterday. You see, the cheetah doesn't do much before or after it eats… kinda boring, actually.  But what a majestic creature of this earth.  We were able to get out of the vehicle, since Welcome said it was safe (though he saw another game driver and rolled his eyes after he saw the cheetah).  Technically speaking, shooting at the level of the animal makes for a better photo - the photos will agree with me on that.  Shooting from the truck, it appears that there is only two dimensions, where as the level shooting makes it pop out like a 3D experience.  We were first in line for the cheetah viewing, so we spent around 15 minutes there, then took off and toured the park again.

Welcome saw the elephants from around a 1/2 mile away and drew our attention to them again.  We rolled down that hill and up the next and started watching them in the bush.  All of a sudden, the momma giraffe came in to view, so he pulled forward to meet it and then her baby, which is only a few days old, was in view attempting to scratch its back on a tree.  The baby giraffe was quite a bit clumsy, and ended up laying down for a bit.  Momma came back to keep a watchful eye over her as we were looking and photographing.

We were dropped back off at our lodge for some down time and a quick lunch, as we had to be ready to get picked up for our 35 minute drive to Bayete Zulu for an elephant interaction and game drive at 1:15 PM SAST.  Originally, we were thinking the elephant interaction was going to be pretty cool.  Then, our guide said it wasn't the best experience in the line up, then digressed.  A bunch of us talked about it prior to this day anyway and decided that it was something that seven of us wanted to do, so that we did.  Boy howdy, we are so glad that we made the decision to go.  Rambo, the 5 ton bull, Rachel, the 3.5 ton mother, and Jabulani, the 1.5 ton baby were soon traipsing over the hill for us to view.  What a site.  I was in pure awe as I clicked the shutter.

The viewing wasn't the only part of this deal.  Each person in the group got to feed and interact with Rambo, one at a time, with the assistance of the elephants tenders (they spend 12 hours a day with all three of them, so the elephants know and trust them each).  Our guide, Ryan, wanted to know who wanted to go first.  So, being the nice guy I am, I nominated Kathy since it was her birthday the next day.  From feeling his tusks, leg muscles, snout, and ears all the way to putting a handful of food in to his mouth (on his slimy tongue) for him to eat.  A little freaky, but once you get past the fact that he isn't going to step on you  and kill you, then its ok sticking a perfectly good appendage in his mouth for some dinner.  

Once done with Rambo, we each had a chance to feed Jabu, the baby.  Jabu would curl her snout in order to make a pouch to hold about two handfuls of oats.  Then, it would naturally flick it in to her mouth and then it was gone with the snout coming right back at the feeder.  Simply amazing.

Rachel was also in line to be fed, so she got her turn, one by one.  She was place further away that the other two, because she is still very protective of Jabu.  So much so, there was  a lot of space between all of us and her.  When Kathy was feeding Rachel, it appeared that Kathy wasn't feeding fast enough, so Rachel took her snout and snotted all over Kathy’s jacket.  Of course I didn't laugh (too loud).  Kathy went to get cleaned up, wiped off, etc while the others were going in the line to do their turn.

I went last, that way Kathy could take photos of me.  What a deal.  I can tell you now, from first hand (in the mouth of an elephant) experience, that was a rush.  What a calm and kind giant.  The funniest part was when I left Rambo and was feeding Jabu, the tenders were not feeding Rambo fast enough. He saw that I had a bowl of food and decided to nudge me with his snout.  I felt like I was going to fall over, but didn’t.  The tenders quickly got him some food so he would not pay any attention to me, and I went on, with laughing tears in my eyes, to tend to Jabu.

The last part of the interaction is to see them wash down the oats with some water.  Rachel and Jabu went first and took a couple  full snouts of fresh water to shoot into their mouths.  It sounded like rushing water going from a spigot into a bowl.  Then, when they were done with their 5 gallons each, the tenders sat a 5 gallon bucket in front of Rambo.  It one sip, Rambo emptied the 5 gallon bucket and sprayed it in to his mouth.  Holy shit, Batman!  That was impressive.  We tipped out and got in to the jeep, all clamoring about that experience, as we started the game drive at Bayete.

We started off with some rules, which were a little different than Zulu Nyala.  You see, Bayete does not have roofs on their jeeps.  This allows the big five to see it as one object instead of two.  That is less risk for lions to approach the vehicle.  That is a good thing…

One of the first things we saw were two female lions sitting near a pond, waiting for their next meal to come get a drink.  We sat there for a while, however they did not do much, other than look at us a little, and sleep (cat naps).

We spent the better part of two hours seeing some of the same animals that are at Zulu Nyala, however they are more plentiful at Bayete.  Thousands of Nyala and Impala - literally.  We did get to see a few new animals like Kudu, which our guide Ryan said how they got their name.  Can anyone guess without looking it up?  Yeah, me neither.  Anyway, he did say the natives said the Kudu got its name from its testicles banging together as it ran, going Ku-Du, Ku-Du - like a doorbell.  Now, stop imagining that and bleach your memory.  LOL

Once we returned to the Heritage Lodge at Zulu Nyala, we hit the bar for a couple of beers.  Since most everyone was still out and about, we had a pretty nice spot to download the days photos and have  couple of beers.  As guests started coming in to cleanse their palettes, some of our new friends showed up and talked about their day trips.  Since I was downloading the photos on to the laptop, they were all taking in the photos that I shot for the day. 

It was a long, but awesome day.  We are headed to a local village tomorrow, where we get to go in to the primary school and talk and interact with the children students as well as go to a village where a family lives.  Should be great.  Until tomorrow, enjoy the photos that I took on this day and Sawubona! (good evening) to you!


  1. This last picture looks like the elephant is smiling!!

  2. You go Bob!!! And Kathy!!
    Nat. Geo. photo worthy!
    HBD Kathy��