On The Indian Ocean !!!

As I mentioned earlier, geography has always been fascinating for me (since grade school!) and for some reason there have been some special places on this earth that captured my imagination and have always seemed more exotic and so far away that I felt I would never see them in my lifetime. Perhaps this was because they were half a world away, and thus, these places seemed as unattainable as the stars.

The Indian Ocean has always been one of these places, along with Madagascar. You see, I have dreamed of Africa for a very long time! And while we did not see Madagascar on this trip, we got to see the Indian Ocean!

And, well, we were not far from Madagascar, but I swear we could see it from the fishing boat !!!!! That is going to be my story!!!! Yeah!

And we did not just see the Indian Ocean, but we felt her cool beach sand beneath our feet, we played in her warm waves, we fished and ate for supper her gifts to us – fish that were beautiful, exotic, and extremely good eating.

On the eighth day of our safari, we had arranged for a half-day of fishing on the Indian Ocean from a chartered fishing boat. We arrived at the marina just after noon, yet the skipper of the craft did not feel it prudent to take the boat out of the harbor that afternoon. The seas were very wild and rough, the wind strong, and leaving the narrow and rocky mouth of the channel with rough seas was dangerous.

So, then, we opted to take a river boat cruise up the Kowie River, and the river wound through steep river canyons lined with hillsides treed with exotic species that reminded one of Jurassic Park. The boat trip was relaxing, and dusk on the river was beautiful.

Returning from the river boat cruise, we all frolicked and danced on the beach. We were told NOT to go in even to our knees, for sharks were always about!!!!!

Happy girls, on the beach !!!!!

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Six companions….

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The following day, the weather promised more favorable conditions, and we were at the marina before dawn. We boarded the boat, skippered by Mark, and his mate, Justin. We made our way down the channel toward the mouth of the ocean, and saw the narrow and rocky opening we would negotiate to get out to sea. The opening was narrow, with huge rocks on either side, and the surf was high.

“Hold fast,” we were told, as the boat entered the incoming boiling surf at the mouth. It was rough, and the boat was lifted up and dropped down as we passed through the waves, and then we were safely past the rocks, and on our way out to sea!

The fiery sunrise on the Indian Ocean was as beautiful as I had imagined.

The boat was steered North, and we anchored and threw out our saltwater spinning lines. Even though the boat was anchored, the current and wind was too strong, so we brought in our lines, and moved closer to shore. The shoreline was breathtakingly beautiful with the sandy beaches, the dunes, and the lush green thornbush that extended close to the beach.

Using frozen baitfish, we began to catch fish. Several sharks were hooked, and let off, and we moved the boat again.

We began to catch a number of fish Mark called “daggarade,” and maybe this is a regional name for the fish, (and perhaps I am not spelling it correctly) but these fish were a beautiful apricot and cream colored striped fish, squat and roundish, instead of long, and their mouths had teeth. They put up a heck of a fight and were fun to catch. Mark stated these were good eating, so the legal sized fish were kept, and the smaller ones released.

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Cindy….smiling, as usual.

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Mark, the skipper, holding one of my ‘daggarade.’

Michelle, from Oregon, caught a beautiful black and gray striped fish Mark called a Musselcracker, but released it as it was not of legal size. This was a gorgeous fish, and if photos come to me, I will post them here!

We also caught iridescent blue and lavender fish that were released. The fish were so beautiful and their colors were unlike any salt water fish we have caught on the East Coast. Every one of us caught our limit of fish, and we took the legal fish back to camp!

The fish were eaten for supper the next day!!!!! And they were delicious!

On the Indian Ocean! A childhood dream come true! How lucky can one be ?????

Of Small Things and Dangerous Packages

We began hunting impala for Cindy on the third day. We were hunting an area with grassy open fields and rolling hills with bushy cover, and low, wet areas that were thickly wooded. A lot of impala were seen in the open areas, as well as zebra, kudu, warthog, and hartebeest and several gemsbok (who were very elusive and our one and only gemsbok stalk ended with vanishing gemsbok: Poof! And then they were gone!).

Shortly after lunch, a promising impala ram was spotted and we crept along a tree line, moving from tree to tree, to get closer to the group of impala on the lower hillside. As we got closer, I stopped and hung back, staying in the shadows as Cindy and Mike neared the impala, as I feared one more person on the stalk might cause the impala to sense our presence and flee.

Cindy and Mike stopped ahead, and glassed the group of impala. They then had a short whispered conversation, and Cindy sat down behind a bush, and Mike motioned me forward.

Quietly, I crept to where Mike was standing, behind some cover, and he told me quietly the impala ram in the group was not mature enough, but he had spotted a bushbuck in the cover 80 yards or so below us on the slope of the hill we were on. A bushbuck ram was an animal I had decided I would hunt if the opportunity presented itself.

We had already encountered bushbuck several times during the first few days of our hunt although we did not see one. Secretive and wary, their sharp barks of alarm sound much like a dog bark, and when frightened, they flee and broadcast to every animal within earshot of the danger nearby, thus ending any stalk in progress!

Bushbuck are the smallest of the spiral horned African animals, with strikingly beautiful and unique markings, and depending on the sub-species, have spots, stripes, and other white markings. They are the size of small deer, with bodies that appear to be full and a tad larger in proportion to their dainty faces, legs and feet. Large ears grace the top of the dainty bushbuck ram’s head, as well as a pair of dark horns that consist of a thick spiral at the base and extending up to sharp, dagger-like pointed tips.

Bushbuck are said to be aggressive when wounded, and suddenly become the scrappy little devil in the pub who says, “Yeah, I am Irish and can take anyone here!” One has to only look at the bushbuck’s size and know that a charge by a bushbuck puts those sharp and pointed foot long horns at femoral artery height on a hunter.

This thought was indeed confirmed by an owner of one of the concessions we hunted who had witnessed the damage done by a wounded charging bushbuck. The sharp pointed horns of the wounded bushbuck entered the hunter’s upper legs, glanced off the femoral artery on one side, and both horns completely pierced the hunter’s upper thighs. The hunter fortunately lived, but suffered a great injury.

I recall an article I read a number of years ago, written by Terry Wieland that first appeared in the African Hunting Gazette. In his article, Wieland writes of the bushbuck:
“Dangerous? I know of a grave along the Limpopo River, near Buffelsdrift, of an Englishman who was killed by a bushbuck in the 1890s. He wounded it, got too close, and he and the bushbuck went together into the netherworld.”

So in Africa, dangerous things do indeed come in small packages!

North American bears usually turn my insides to jelly, but this little bushbuck had me thinking! Maybe I read too much???

At first I could not see the bushbuck, which was lying down at the edge of some thick bush and in tall grassy cover, but finally I saw the dark and pointed tips of his horns barely poking up above the tall grass. This was not the first time that I marveled at what our PH, Mike could see!

The bushbuck appeared to be resting in the shade out of the mid-day sun. From our position, we watched the bushbuck, and decided to try and get closer.

We slowly and quietly moved down the slope, using what cover that was available, and got within 60 yards of the bushbuck, then moved again to come within 45 yards of the animal. From there, we could see the thick bases and the length of his horns, and Mike stated he was a mature and representative bushbuck ram. Mike set up the shooting sticks. I did not have a shot, as I could only see the bushbuck’s head and horns. Mike and I agreed I would wait the bushbuck out, and see if a shot opportunity existed.

We stood watching the bushbuck for a good 30 minutes, and the sun moved higher in the sky, and we were standing next to a large bush, but were completely exposed to the sun and this was one of the warmer days of the hunt, with temperatures in the seventies. It was quiet and peaceful on that hillside, and only the soft sound of the grass whispering in the breeze could be heard.

After what seemed an eternity, the bushbuck stood up in the shade of the cover where he had been concealed. I believe he somehow sensed our presence, as we were silent. Slowly, I laid the rifle over the shooting sticks and looked through the scope. The bushbuck was looking directly at us, and I fired and chambered another round. Mike whispered I had hit the bushbuck, as he saw the tail go up, and the bushbuck disappeared, swallowed by the grass and bushes on the hillside. We would wait a few minutes, before pursuing the bushbuck.

Cindy quietly made her way down to us, and said that from her higher vantage point, she saw the bushbuck tumble and roll, and did not get up.

We waited, then began making our way down the hillside, slowly, looking for the animal. After going 20 yards or so, my heart sank when I saw the bushbuck was down, but his head was up. He then got up, and bolted another 30 yards into the thick and tangled cover that grew along a stream at the bottom of the hill. We stopped and listened, and heard thrashing around in the dark thick cover in front of us.

Safety on, but rifle ready, we walked closer, and then Mike took the rifle from me and disappeared into the thick growth. And came out, dragging the bushbuck behind him.

I was so relieved we did not have a wounded bushbuck on our hands! My shot had been fatal, but a little farther back than I liked. So, it seems this scrappy little bushbuck had indeed played with my psyche and intimidated me!!!

The bushbuck ram was about 150 pounds, and Mike judged him to be approximately 7 years old. He was dark, with spots on his flanks, and white markings on his chest. What a beautiful animal! His horns were indeed sharp, and the tip of one of his horns showed he had been actively fighting with other rams.

My second spiral horned African animal was indeed a dandy, and I will always remember that afternoon, that sunny, bucolic hillside and the smallest, yet most intimidating animal I have ever hunted!

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Addo Elephant National Park!

We drove to Addo Elephant National Park, near Port Elizabeth, on Monday, July 14, 2013. The Park is home to at least 39 species of mammals and birds, and with at least seven species found in the marine section.

The 630 square mile Park consists of a network of roads, connecting waterholes, natural terrain, viewing areas and lookouts where the animals of the Park can be viewed. One must remain in the vehicle during the driving tour. The Park is completely wild within, with both predators and prey. One can view many animals there during the course of a day, and we were hoping to see elephant, and lion.

Well, elephant were the most abundant of the animals seen, and we saw many groups of elephants of all ages. One group, at an especially active waterhole had several that appeared to be year old elephants, and one shy baby, who must have been less than a year old. The baby was so small!

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We saw two juveniles engage in a playful shoving match, and more elephants at another waterhole.

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We saw some magnificent kudu, warthog, a lot of Cape Buffalo, and other plains game, but clearly the elephants dominated the day! We were so close to these gentle giants! I will let these photos speak for themselves.

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The OMG kudu, above!  Simply breathtaking!!!!!

Enjoy, friends.

Photos are courtesy of Cindy Grove.

 

The Huntress Is Awakened!

Cindy had her own rifle 35 years ago – a .22 LR rimfire rifle with a 4X scope. Back in those days, one could go to an empty sandpit and shoot at targets, or TV’s, or whatever people left behind. Those were the days, and she was handy with her little rifle at the sand pit. We grew up learning to shoot and hunt with our father, so it was in her blood, too.

After many years, and passing her guns down to others, my sister expressed a desire to get back into shooting. Her oldest son, Brian, gave her a BB gun for Christmas in 2013. Cindy lives at the edge of Reno, Nevada, and beyond her fenced back yard are miles of sagebrush and high desert. Christmas Day, 2013, the family gathered in the backyard to receive shooting and safety instructions from Pat, my neice’s significant other, a Marine gunny, who has been deployed twice to the Mid-East.

Cindy took those lessons to heart, and practiced with her little rifle. She laughed: “Three pumps, and the BB’s bounce off the target. Four pumps, and they are part of my fence!” She became deadly on crows…..

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Cindy was travelling to Africa with me, primarily to baby-sit and to take photographs, but did mention wistfully occasionally, that she may want to hunt, too. We had a vow to watch each other’s backs on this trip and she saved my bacon a few times. Another story for another time!

So, on our first day at the rifle range, our PH, Mike, made sure she shot my rifle, in case she got bitten by the bug. She shot my rifle well from the bench that day, a little bigger than her BB gun, yet she did very well with it. I was so proud of her!

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Well, the bug bit her! After several days of stalking animals with me, Cindy decided she would like to hunt an impala, a game animal that was very abundant, very beautiful, and a perfect African trophy. We had eaten impala several nights in camp, and the meat was delicious. She liked it. So, I gladly handed her “Louise,” my 7mm mag, and we concentrated our efforts on her hunt, and began stalking impala with our PH, Mike, exclusively. Our PH, Mike, carried the rifle, and ensured that everything was safe with this fledgling hunter!

Impala are gregarious herd animals, and so many groups of impala were encountered and each stalk was challenging, with so many eyes and with the impala more often than not in the middle of the expansive grassy veld with little cover. And, we know of the tremendous eyesight most game animals have, and that ‘sixth sense’ that they seem to possess, and the impala were wary, and many stalks ended with the animals leaving the area.

Cindy got her first taste of ‘buck fever’ or, ‘ram fever,’ several times, enduring long stalks and then getting within a reasonable shot distance, to find the animals were not mature and permissible to shoot. It was so good to see her experience this thrill of the hunt, the shakes, the shortness of breath, and the pounding heart – and getting in close.

After a number of stalks, and going into day 5, a large group of impala were spied at the end of a grassy field, in the edge cover, very early in the morning. They were a good 600 yards away, and they spotted us immediately, even though we were careful to stay in what cover we had to conceal ourselves. They all darted into the wooded area, out of sight. A lone hartebeest was the only animal remaining of the group. We abandoned that stalk, and head back to higher ground.

After some walking, a group of zebra on an opposite hill were spotted, and among them were several impala, including a mature ram. They were in the trees on a hillside, and there was an opportunity for us to get onto the hillside opposite them and closer, as the opposite hillside offered good cover. We would then have to find a good spot to shoot. We shadowed their movements, quiet and concealed behind the tall cover that grew on our (the near) hillside. We came to a spot opposite the impala, and Mike found a break in the cover, and then set up the shooting sticks.

Cindy laid the rifle across the sticks, and Mike stood next to her and braced her elbow. Cindy took her time, found a good shot picture across the ravine, and fired. The impala dropped like a stone! Cindy’s face was beaming with joy and accomplishment!

I cannot describe the feelings of pride, joy, and also humility that I felt, watching my little sister take her first big game animal! We then bushwacked our way down the ravine, and up the opposite side to Cindy’s ram.

Her impala ram was just beautiful. Impala are among the most graceful and lithe of the African antelope, with dainty features, and gorgeous horns. Cindy stroked, admired, and spoke to the impala, giving thanks.

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What a morning!!!!!

Back at camp, she told her story several times that evening, clearly enjoying her accomplishment and everyone in camp was thrilled for her. She also said she will want a rifle of her own and would like to join a gun club, upon her return to Reno, Nevada, her home. She will have a lot of hunting opportunities there!

She came to Africa, and left a hunter. She is forever now, a new person.

I love you, Cindy!

Impala morning, kudu afternoon

Tuesday morning, the first hunting day, our PH, Mike, Cindy, myself, and our tracker Peter left the camp and met up with another tracker, Patrick. Kudu and impala were animals I wanted to hunt on this safari, and it was likely we would see both that first day.

So, we would be hunting kudu that first day, a beautiful and majestic animal with spiral horns. Kudu are appropriately named, “the Grey Ghost” as their coloring lends them perfect camouflage, and they seem to melt into their habitat. The bulls are grey in color, with striped markings, a white chevron on the face and a fringe or mane along the back  and beneath the neck down to their chest. The female kudu is more brown in color, and do not have horns. Kudu have very large ears, and our PH, Mike, stated they have incredible hearing and are shy and elusive.

We learned kudu prefer steep rocky hillsides, and thick areas of tall, thorny bush. Early that morning, we climbed to the top of a rocky hillside and began to glass. Almost immediately, we saw a bushbuck move through the thick bush at the bottom of the hill. And off to the left, three giraffe were spied. Seeing no kudu, we then decided to move to another vantage spot.

This glassing continued throughout the morning, and we saw a great variety of animals!  I never thought I would see as much game as I did that first day!

We finally found a kudu bull to stalk just before noon. Silently, we made our way down the rocky hillside, with the tracker, Patrick, leading the way. The thorny brush was thick, and we worked hard to stay silent.

Then, reaching the edge of a small clearing in the bush, we spotted a group of seven impala rams feeding in and along some cover. They were about 120 yards away. We moved up a little closer, and we looked at the impala through our binoculars.

“The big one, facing broadside, is the one we want,” Mike said quietly, as he put up the shooting sticks.

I put my rifle up on the sticks and looked through the scope. All looked big and three were standing broadside. I apologized, and said, “But they all look big, and three are broadside.”

Then one disappeared into the cover, and Mike said that was the one we wanted, and I watched for the impala to leave the cover on the other side. Finally he came out, and presented a broadside shot, and I squeezed the trigger on my rifle. The impala jumped into the air, ran a few yards and fell.

The impala ram was graceful and beautiful, a lovely golden brown color, with a cream color undercarriage. His horns were thick and curved, and with long straight tips. He weighed about 150 pounds and was estimated to be about 7 years old. My first African animal!

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We stopped and ate lunch while the trackers skinned and took care of the impala. We would be hunting kudu hard that afternoon.

Again, we glassed from several high vantage points, looking for a glimpse of “the Grey Ghost.”  Finally, we were rewarded, looking down into a thick, brushy area at the bottom of the hills, probably 3 km away. A kudu bull was spotted, and then two more. One looked good, but we needed to get closer.

We made our way down the rocky slope, silently weaving in and out of the thick cover, and finally arriving almost at the bottom, that was a tangled mass of tall, dense, thorny bush. We were close to the spot where we had last seen the kudu bulls, and we slowed down even more, exercising greater stealth. We crept closer, and then Patrick froze, and sunk to his knees. We silently did the same.

He motioned to Mike that he saw two kudu females in front of us, less than10 yards away, in the thick brush. They stood between us and where we last saw the bulls, and we had to wait them out, as they would bark an alarm, and all the kudu would run off.

We sat motionless and silent for a good half hour, waiting for the kudu females to pass. They finally moved away, and we decided to move back a little higher, hoping to see if the bulls were still in the area. We had moved probably only 25 yards, and Patrick froze again. We heard the sound of horns, softly hitting tree branches. The sound was roughly just 30 yards away, in the thick bush.  The kudu bulls had been very close to us for the entire time!

We were a little higher by then, and saw a small break in the cover at our level, looking down into an area with a little less cover, and saw movement. Mike put up the shooting sticks, and just then a kudu bull came into sight, 25 yards away. I slowly laid my rifle over the sticks, and Mike said to go ahead and take the shot, as it was the kudu we were after. This was a chest shot, head on, but the sticks offered a good solid rest, and the kudu was close, so I put the crosshairs on the kudu’s chest and fired. I worked the bolt. The kudu then vanished, but we heard some crashing through the bush, to our left.

I felt it had been a good shot and we circled around, while Patrick went into the bush, while we positioned ourselves to intercept the kudu, in case he was wounded and still on the move. We waited, and then Patrick called out that he had found the kudu, who was dead.

My feelings were mixed as I ran my hands over his beautiful curved horns. This was the animal I dreamed of and came to Africa for, and again, the animal was at the end of my dream. He was simply beautiful. His horns were deeply curved, and his white chevron and other markings perfect. His estimated weight was over 500 pounds and he was approximately 7 or 8 years old. What a beautiful animal!

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The trackers took care of the kudu, while I reflected on the events of the day.

Earlier, on our stalks, we had seen giraffe, eland, kudu, steenbuck, impala, zebra, a bushbuck, great herds of red hartebeest, two waterbuck, and warthog, and those up close, only 10 yards away!

What an amazing first day!!!!!

Pre-hunt: At The Rifle Range

Before hunting, a trip to the rifle range was necessary to check the zeroes on our rifles to make sure they were shooting straight after the long trip and maybe some bumps along the way.  After arriving at the lodge and cottages of Starr and Bodill African Safaris, all six of us loaded our rifles into the trucks so we could check our zeroes and sight in, if necessary.

Our three Professional Hunters, Dwaine, Louis and Mike accompanied us to the local rifle range and this was the welcoming committee!

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Their welcome was rather short when they spotted us unloading rifles from the vehicle, and felt something was afoot, but stayed around for a short while and graciously allowed some photographs. WOW – our first glimpse of an African animal!  We were excited and grinning from ear to ear!

Our rifles were shooting just fine, and we were now ready!!!!!

Here is a photo of my sister, Cindy, shooting from the bench.  She rocked!

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Then, leaving the range, down the road was a fantastic sight!  Wild giraffe were feeding near the road! Cindy and I scrambled out of the truck and snapped a few photos. Photo credits to Cindy for taking these unbelievable photos.

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Let the hunt begin!

We Have Arrived !!!

After a long journey, the six of us have arrived !!!!

After roughly 30 hours of travel, we arrived in Johannesburg at approximately 5:30 in the afternoon on Sunday, July7.  Along with several hundred other people who had to pass through check-in!  And at one point, only three agents were available to process all of the travelers.  We got through that first check point, then had to go to the South African Police office (in the airport), to retrieve our rifles.

A representative of the Afton Guest House (where we were to stay on Sunday night) met us and assisted with this process and was a BIG help, as he is familiar with the process, and must be familiar with the police officers in the SAPS office as well.  Our paperwork was in order, and after opening the rifle cases for verification, and examination of our documentation, we were officially IN!!!!!

I think we can take them!

We loaded everything up in a very large van with a trailer, and went to the Afton Guest House and enjoyed a traditional braai, or barbecue of excellent steak and sides, and spent the night in a very comfortable room for some much needed shut-eye!

Monday morning, we were then back to the airport for passenger check-in and check-in of our rifles that required another visual inspection of all of our paperwork and another visual inspection of the rifles, and finally with boarding passes in hand, we were at our gate, waiting for our bird.  Boarding of our plane was blissfully a bit delayed, which allowed our rifles and luggage to be placed on board, as the schedule that morning was tight, and the airport was very busy.

After a short flight to East London, RSA, we arrived, along with our luggage and our rifles!

Two of our Professional Hunters (PH’s), Dwaine Starr and Louis Bodill of Starr and Bodill African Safaris were at the airport to greet us and take us to the hunting lodge, approximately a two hour ride from East London.

We were all ready to hunt, and during the drive to the lodge, I know I was not alone in wondering what exciting and new adventures lay ahead!!!!!

 

 

Our Destination……

Here is our flight and travel plan, dear friends…..

Our destination is the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  We will fly to East London, South Africa, a coastal city on the Indian Ocean.

As a young girl and student, maps and geography were extraordinarily interesting for me, and not only will we see a bit of Africa, but we will see the Indian Ocean!  On the last day of our trip, after the safari, we will be on a chartered  fishing boat, fishing in the Indian Ocean!  Unbelievable!  Never in my childhood dreams, studying these far-flung places in middle school, did I dream that I would ever actually see them!  And I will have a chance to put my toes into the Indian Ocean!!!!!

OK, the details: We (me, from Massachusetts, and my sister, Cindy, from Nevada) will be departing from Boston, Massachusetts, and flying to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. There, we will meet up with the other four women of this dream team, The Safari Sisters, who will make up this African hunt: Britney from Michigan, Michelle and Julia from Oregon, and Christina from Virginia.

Six companions…..

From Dulles we will fly to Dakar, Senegal (and, oh, does that not sound exotic and intriguing!) and from what I am told, we will not be able to de-plane, but there, we will re-fuel, and then the jet may be fumigated (Holy proverbial smoke Bat Man!  Fumigated for what?   From the information I have read, the stewardesses may spray the interior of the plane – and I may just go hide in the loo for that operation, and I will NOT come out until all of that is over!)   Then, sans whatever cooties we Americans might bring into the country, off we go to Johannesburg!

Once we arrive in Jo’burg, we will be picked up by a representative of the Afton Guest House, where we will spend the night. At this point, I estimate we will have been traveling for at least 30 hours from the time we leave my home in Massachusetts. So we will need some rest !!!!

South Africa appears to be 6 hours ahead of EST and it will be their winter there, and we can expect temperatures from the 30’s to low 70’s.  I put Fort Beaufort, the closest town into my iPhone for the local weather, and most days, it seems to get into the 60’s after a chilly early morning.  We can handle that!

So, let’s back up a bit…. health concerns are, of course,  a big priority, so I checked into what I would need to travel to South Africa. After consulting with my local primary care physician, here are the vaccinations I have had: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever. I have an Rx supply of Cipro, in case of intestinal malaise, and will have along aspirin, Pepto, Immodium and everything else in the medicine cabinet! The hunting concession is in a malaria free zone, so I do not plan to take malaria medication. As I did, anyone going to Africa should check with their primary care physician for the recommended innoculations!

Anybody getting nervous, yet ????  I sure am !!!!

Luggage is another matter:  I have had a group of items for the trip on the guest room bed, and I am arranging and re-arranging the piles.  Everything will end up in the bags, eventually, and I will be carrying a full change of hunting clothes and boots in my carry on in case my checked bag is diverted…..and this is the usual drill for any trip.  Any essential and valuable gear such as my binocular, range finder, camera, etc., will go into the carry on, and I will also lock the checked bag with a TSA approved lock.

The paperwork to be completed for bringing my firearm into the country is detailed and exacting, but the PH supplied instructions and a sample form, so the papers should be in order.

Ammo transport is interesting.  Leaving the US, the ammo is to be in my checked bag.  Once we arrive and fly within South Africa, the ammo must be separate, in its own small locked hard plastic case.  That ammo case will travel with the rifle, also in its own locked case.

Let us hope that all of my luggage and gear arrives with me!

Here are some photos of the lodge and of the cottages where we will stay.  These photos are courtesy of Starr and Bodill African Safaris. Lodge-copy-300x208lodge5-copy-150x150lodge4-150x150

Jambo!

What hunter does not dream of an African safari?

My own dream of an African safari began long ago, reading the adventures of Ruark, Hemingway and Capstick, where the beauty of the country and the pure raw adventure of the tent safaris of the mid-1900s were so vividly documented. Of course, other notable and contemporary writers such as Craig Boddington have contributed to this dream with their writing through the years and I have a strong longing for an African safari and adventure.

The written words of these authors ignited and fueled the fires of my dream: the long and exhausting days hunting game on foot, the allure and romance of double rifles, the evening meal of fresh game cooked over an open fire, and experiencing that special and intangible bond shared by hunters telling stories around an African campfire in a simple hunting camp.

While I cannot hunt alongside the great African hunters and writers of the past, I certainly can dream of walking in their footsteps, perhaps just on the same dry earth they trod, with their spirits as companions, helping me hold the rifle steady. I want to experience firsthand what they have shared with me over the years through their stories: the slow methodical tracking and stalking of African game, hearing the birds, monkeys, and roaring lions; seeing the dry dusty footprints of ancient elephant, and visiting the crowded water holes where both the hunters and the prey converge.

I want to be a part of that dry grassland and feel my heart beat with the pulse of Africa as the waves of heat from the expansive veld shimmer into a cloudless sky. And most of all, I want to experience the mystery of the dark and deep African night with the crescent new moon in the ink black sky, along with the famed Southern Cross and the brilliant stars of the southern hemisphere.

Yes, this African safari seed was planted long ago, nourished over the years by the experiences of other hunters, not around a campfire at night, but through literature that has been a joy and an inspiration; and this all lives in my heart and mind.

So, dear friends, put on your hiking boots, and please come along with me on this special trip. I sincerely hope I can share with you my own excitement of discovery, the wonder of a new experience, and something that will spark a desire in you, too, to go forth and seek your next adventure!

Africa!

Africa!