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Uncovering Africa's Beauty on Foot

Bush Walk, Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa


View Around the World! - Part 3 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

We've completed six amazing game drives in an open-air vehicle, but today was even more thrilling as we took a walk at ground level with the animals in the game preserve. Our guides loaded their rifles as soon as we stepped out of the truck, ensuring our safety. We were made aware of the fact that we were now more noticeable to the animals since we walk on two feet rather than four. They often determine a foreign presence based not only on sight but also on sound or smell. We were instructed to proceed quietly through the bush in single file and only speak and snap photos when given permission. We not only learned a great deal about the plants and the behaviors of the wildlife but had a great time during the process.

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It's not every day that you see one of the incredible, hard-working insects found in the African Savannah - during our hike, we had the unique opportunity to observe the fascinating dung beetle. These small but mighty insects, found near animal droppings, play a crucial role in the ecosystem. Dung beetles come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and employ different strategies to utilize dung. "Rollers" shape the dung into balls and roll them away to bury for later use, while "tunnelers" create underground chambers beneath the dung pile for storage. With remarkable strength, some species can move dung balls up to 50 times their body weight. Their keen sense of smell allows them to detect dung from a distance. By burying and consuming dung, they recycle nutrients back into the soil, promoting plant growth and reducing the spread of harmful parasites and flies. Maybe we could use a few of them in the horse pasture back home!

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During the afternoon, we not only observed minute animals but also came across a pair of zebras. They seemed to stare at us from a distance, vigilantly watching for danger in all directions, perhaps wondering who these strange creatures were that gazed upon them with such curiosity.

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Our guide cautiously ventured ahead to check who might be visiting the nearby waterhole. Upon his return, he wore a big smile on his face. He explained that he was happy because we had the opportunity to see one of the typically more dangerous animals that require vigilance from all individuals who approach them. However, he brought good news: this particular African Buffalo was resting on an island on the other side of the pond, not downwind from where we walked along the water's edge. Although the buffalo raised its head, it apparently had no intention of moving from its resting place.

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We hesitated momentarily at a number of plants, in particular, one tree that had fruit that could cause lockjaw and sap that could cause blindness. Mother nature certainly has an interesting way of protecting itself from the animals and invaders such as ourselves. But we had a little fun with some other plants as our guides demonstrated how we could survive if our clothing was ruined and we found ourselves naked in the bush. Here is the garment they constructed, nicely modeled by our fellow traveller on the bush walk:

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We not only survived our walk but learned quite a bit in the process and, needless to say, a good time was had by all in the African bushveld!

Posted by Where2FromHere 11:01 Archived in South Africa

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