Monday, November 10, 2008

There's no Hippo in the Bathtub... but...

There was an elephant in the shower.

During our stay at Oddballs, a tented camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, we went on daily game walks and mokoro (dugout canoe) trips. Seeing zebras, giraffes, and impala is one thing while driving through the parks; it's another thing entirely to see them at "their" level, without the metal and glass enclosure of the truck. This elephant, a local friend, decided to go looking for an afternoon snack amongst the trees between the shower stalls... while we were in them. We broke records for fastest shower that day!

If you want to see rhinos, you simply must visit the Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe, Botswana. Rhinos were the last of the "Big Five" for us to find, as they're rare and endangered -- you probably know that they've been poached extensively in Africa for their horns, which are highly valued in Asia.

Our morning game drive through the park resulted in no animal sightings, which was more or less par for the course for us. We are simply not morning people; neither are we expert animal trackers! In the afternoon, we decided to try our luck again. Our perseverance was rewarded with several rhino sightings, including one at the end of our drive -- the rhino was so close to the road that he walked up to the truck and tapped our rear bumper, gently, with his great horn. Rhinos are strange; they look like they've been made out of the leftover parts of other animals, with disjointed faces, awkward bodies, and large ears -- to say nothing of those horns, which can be up to a meter long each. They also did a dance that we called the "Rhino Shuffle", as they shift back and forth while kicking up an awful lot of dust.

Spending time with the rhinos, elephants, zebras, giraffes, and all of their other friends in Botswana was a great way to end our safari trip. The last few weeks in Africa were definitely tiring, though thrilling in their own special way. Although we enjoyed our time traveling Africa, we can say very positively now that we're happy and proud to have completed our trip safely and successfully.

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