We recently returned from a fantastic trip to South Africa. The country is truly a melting pot of nationalities, tribes, cultures and languages. And there were many quirky things only in Africa we grew to love which constantly put a smile on our faces.
There were many road signs which you don’t see in Australia. I guess it comes with the country and its abundance of wildlife.
This often leads to a lot of human-animal encounters, especially when many roads are not fenced and animals of all kinds freely roam, even on motorways!
Elephants in certain areas are in large unsustainable numbers. Unfenced conservancies or game reserves are particularly prone to having vehicles share the roads with them.
We came across many other interesting road signs, one of which you may also see in the Northern Territory of Australia. No going off bushwalking here!
And then, there were other signs not often seen in Australia or elsewhere in the world…Beware of flying antelope or things with BIG pointy horns on their noses!
Rhinos were of particular interest to us having spent some time in Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, near Houdspruit in the northern part of South Africa.
They had a seven-month-old baby white rhino, Olive, who was a very big baby, but still a baby who needed regular bottle feeds. She also required ‘baby sitting’ so there was always someone with her keeping her company.
So where else in the world would you see a sign for ‘Rhino Sitting’ on a dining room door? I particularly loved the bit about “If she charges, you must MOVE!”. Yeh right, of course you move, unless you don’t see her lining up to charge.
She had a spectacular habit of appearing calm whilst grazing on grass, and then the minute you turned your back on her or plugged in your ipod, she would put her head up and charge.
We saw her throw an 80kg person in the air charging from only a distance of a metre!
She also scored one against me bowling me over from the same distance when I once took my eyes of her whilst baby sitting. And then she continued grazing as if nothing had happened and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, whilst I picked myself up, dusted myself off and sulked off to get my cuts and big bruises dealt with.
Where else in the world would you also go ‘bushwacking’ with a baby rhino? What a priceless experience, especially when Olive wouldn’t cross a tiny stream because a little bush was in the way.
We had to go through first and hold the bush’s small branches out of the way for her before she developed the confidence to follow us. Priceless!
We backpacked around some areas and found an amazing place in Outshorn where for about A$20 each, you could have a cooked breakfast of egg, bacon, tomato and toast, only the egg was an ostrich egg.
Our accommodation during our trip had included a great find of an old restored railway carriage on the beach at Mossel Bay.
It came complete with an added deck, bar and restaurant at one end of the train. But we were most amused at the original writing on the under carriage of “Horns not to be lubricated”.
The mind boggles, especially when horns in Africa more often relates to the wildlife.
We also had booked in to the cheapest camping accommodation at Shamwari Game Reserve in an effort to conserve our holiday funds. But we should have known that camping at Shamwari was really ‘glamping’.
Our ‘tent’ blew us away, built into the hillside, with its own deck and pool overlooking a beautiful river valley.
Sunset drinks whilst on a game drive where also Shamwari-style. Boy, do we LOVE Africa! What a way to watch the sun go down…
On our travels, we got to ride in many vehicles, many that were not very roadworthy and even had parts held together with duct tape. But this backie (utility) took the cake. I have never seen a light switch used as an ignition switch!
Only in Africa funny pictures
We also visited another small game park, Mongena Game Lodge, for lunch one day. We had been volunteering at Kevin Richardson’s Lion Sanctuary and this was the day before we were leaving, so the whole group went for a special meal.
We arrived at the park which was set around a dam with wildlife wandering around its edge.
What took our breath away were the four zebras quietly grazing on the lawn in between the tables and chairs set for afternoon tea. Just another ‘normal’ scene in Africa.
Talking about volunteering at the Kevin’s lion sanctuary, I found an interesting bottle in the work shed which to this day I am unsure of the contents. Guess I would have to call Kaz on his mobile to ask is there anything I don’t use this for?
And more on bottles with interesting liquid contents, we found this fascinating beer at the Beer House in Cape Town’s Long St.
A Russian stout with the fabulous name of Cocoa Psycho brewed with dark malts, chocolate and coffee. And it had only 10% alcohol content. I hadn’t realised that when I ordered it.
It was only after I nearly fell off my stool when I got up to go to the bathroom that it hit me, literally!
And finally back to the wildlife, as after all that is what a lot of Africa is about.
Where else would you see a monkey grooming itself whilst sitting on an electrified fence?
Or perhaps have a bush baby sit on your head?
Or even stroke the head of a bataleur until your arm was dropping off.
Who cares they have beaks that can take your eyes out, or talons that could rip your arm open? This behaviour was not what I was expecting from this sort of raptor.
Talking about heads, only in Africa would you find a very confused, rare and endangered Southern Ground Hornbill eyeing off your husband and mating on his head.
I will never look at Tony, or Dudu, the same way…
Irene Isaacson travelled at her own expense.