October 31, 2008, Category: South Africa, Travel

Day 5: Gomo Gomo

Note: I have posted a small selection of the nearly 4,000 pictures we took on the trip. You can see them here. If you didn’t start reading on Day 1, you might want to start from the beginning 

The day started rough and ended spectacular. No…I didn’t sleep through the night. I would have though, but Curtis threw up a couple times and then couldn’t sleep himself. Poor kid. We think it was something in the hamburger I got him.

We still got up early and even though he was feeling sick, he wanted to get out and take the same loop we’d been on last night. But only 20 minutes in to it, he threw up again (out the door) and then got a bloody nose. He pinched it but we didn’t have anything to clean him off with…so he had blood all over his face and felt horribly nauseous.  We finished out the loop (saw the same lions from last night, hyena, jackal, and a herd of a hundreds of buffalo), but poor Curti didn’t really care. He’d take a look and fall back to his seat and hold his head. At the lions I asked a guy in another car if he had a tissue for Curtis…he did and we got him cleaned up a little.

I drove back to Satara and went in the shop and bought an elixir to help an upset stomach. I mixed it, Curtis drank it, and we headed back down the road. He was feeling better within an hour, thank goodness. We headed out of the park, watching for animals along the way. Didn’t see much, but we did stop and watch some baboons on the side of the road. There was a tiny one with them that hadn’t really learned to walk yet and the adults kept picking it up to keep it from our view. After we sat there a while, the loosened up and let him play while we watched them groom each other. One of them sat still while the others picked out the bugs and ate them. It was cool how it would move and adjust so they could get a better angle. It reminded me of when I was little and I’d have to sit still in the chair for 45 minutes while my mom cut my hair.

We drove to Gomo Gomo, which took a couple of hours. It is a cute 10 hut dwelling in the middle of the bush. As we pulled up there were two warthhogs eating the grass and we didn’t know if we should get out of the car or not. A guy came out and waved us to the parking area and introduced himself, Lucas. I immediately liked him…a friendly nice looking guy. He walked us to the front and told us not to worry about the warthogs…but not to get too close either. He said if the elephants are too close and we went to leave our tent to holler for him (I thought he was just being funny), and after dark not to leave without and escort. Curtis and I saw large cat tracks around our tent and so we know he wasn’t joking about that.

IMG_0821 Our tent is awesome, although it’s more than a tent. It has a wooden floor that is raised a couple feet off the ground and the bathroom is tile and cement off the back. We have a covered deck that looks out to the river and there were waterbuck and impala everywhere. Just as we finished hauling in our stuff, we heard noises to the left and saw several elephant moving our way. An entire herd came past…right past. Twenty hurried past behind us and another ten or so stopped to eat right in front of our deck. We were looking right at them just yards away. It was amazing. We could hear them chewing, breathing, and scraping the trees with their trucks. We could hear the roots cracking as they pulled out clumps of grass. I could see the eyelashes on their eyes. It was incredible.

We were then called to lunch and ate on an open veranda were we could still see the river…and the elephants. Curtis got his first taste of pop, a South African meal I never enjoyed…but honestly it was prepared decent this time. I ate most of it when normally I wouldn’t have done more than tasted it. After dinner the elephants all went down and took baths in the stream…spraying water and getting muddy. Then it was time for our evening game drive.

HP2Q1900 Lucas was our driver and told us we’d look for Lions. It didn’t take long. We pulled on a high bank of a river and they were on the other side halfway between a nap and playtime. Several tried to play, others tried to sleep…it was amazing to watch them from so close (maybe 20 yards). Lucas told us to get our last pictures before we left and drove forward, crossed the stream, and drove right to the lions! I mean, we were sitting in the open land rover looking at six or so very huge lions which were just a few feet away. When we first pulled up several of them popped up and eyed us, but then they settled back into their comfortable positions and paid less attention to us than the flies landing on their backs.

Our drive continued, and we saw plenty of game. When it got dark Andreas, the tracker riding on the front of the land rover, pulled out a spotlight. At one point he told everyone to be very quiet and we rounded a corner and we saw a leopard in the brush carrying a dead warthog. I’ve seen leopard twice, but only from a distance and both times very quick. This one was maybe 15 feet away and in full view. He carried his dinner up in to a tree and hung it in the nook of the branches, rested a bit…and then jumped down and then took off into the brush. Lucas said we’ll head back in the morning and see if he’s around…boy, I’d love to get some pics of him in the daylight!

We are back in our tent now waiting for an escort to dinner. Curtis is exhausted, I’m not sure if he’ll be awake enough to come. Actually, going to bed early would be nice. I’m pretty tired myself…and the drive in the morning starts at 5:30.

Continued on Day 6…

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