Southern Africa by Bob and Roz Alperstein
January 30, 2022
My friend and classmate Bob Alperstein and his wife Roz recently traveled to Cape Town and Kruger National Park in South Africa and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
From his home in Northern New Jersey, Bob wrote to me and sent photos and videos.
I’ve tried to capture some of the wild experiences, but I am not sure if I succeeded. (He did!)
It’s difficult to adequately capture the feelings as you climb into the open Land Rover at the crack of dawn. The temps are in the 40’s and you welcome the hot water bottle and blankets. The Land Rover moves out with the wind shield down, gradually increasing speed. The wind hits you full on.
The sun is trying to rise, but the pink and gray sky seems to be holding it down. Soon two gossamer figures float above the ground with enormous grace. Giraffes in their glory. We pause to admire and shoot with our cameras.
Then we move on looking for more. Herds of impala (lunch for the predators) are jumping in the distance as the bush starts to move. Zebras graze, seemingly fearless of the lions and leopards and hyenas on the prowl. Strength in numbers.
By mid-morning we arrive at a pond filled with hippos. The guide warns us that the hippos kill more humans than any other animal in Africa, so we don’t get between them and the pond. Not to worry, we are soon back in the Rover. The hot water bottle is no longer necessary.
We stop for hot coffee and sweet cakes that somehow appear from within the Land Rover, courtesy of our guide and tracker. (We remember the tracker’s name because it is Rememba.)
We move out again, looking this way and that for more wildlife. Suddenly, the vehicle takes a hard left off the beaten path and into the bush. The vegetation and saplings fall beneath the slow and struggling onslaught of the Land Rover. Out of nowhere appear two rhinos, dehorned to protect them from poachers. We stop. They look at us but they don’t give a damn. The same thing happens the next day, but then it’s cape buffalo.
Soon we are on the lookout for elephants. A small herd (perhaps 6 or 7) appears on a ridge about 1,000 meters in front of us. Suddenly they turn and head towards us on the run, about 20 meters off our line. As they near our position, they stop, but a young bull turns towards us, throws his trunk in the air, and bluffs a charge. It was a good bluff because it scared the s**t out of me.
We head back to the lodge and look forward to the evening safari.
Our favorite interactions include a leopard, a lion pride, and a pack of the endangered wild dogs. All magnificent creatures and to survive, all necessarily brutal.
Roz and I are home now. We are considering choices for our next adventure.
Bob and Roz have encouraged me to plan my first trip to southern Africa in August and September. My tentative itinerary includes Cape Town, three weeks in Namibia, and visits to Zambia and Botswana.
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