Safari is South Africa is already a lovely experience, but the sense of interacting with Nature one feels on an afternoon, just after a rainstorm with the air filled with petrichor, is superlative.
I felt like a single image couldn’t capture the feeling; the damp darkness of a rainy day is better conveyed in this acacia.
It’s the first day of class for St. Lawrence today, so I’m getting ready and looking towards the future and so forth, but it’s also a great time to look back on the past. It’s been more than a year since I visited South Africa, and when it’s -15ºF on the walk to work, thinking about the Zulu Nyala game reserve can bring back some pleasant memories. It’s the details that stick with me: the fences made from whole sticks of wood, rather than boards, and that particular red color of the soil.
I know camouflage is situational, but this is ridiculous.
During my safari in Zulu Nyala, I came face-to-face with this Cape buffalo. They’re apparently unpredictable, and have never been domesticated. I appreciate the idea of the “rogue cow cousin,” like the Wolverine of cattle.
During our time in Zulu Nyala (in eastern South Africa), we visited the set where the film “I Dreamed of Africa” was shot. Since the movie was finished, the area has been used for some other purposes, but it’s largely intact (if abandoned) in the state it was when it was last used. The benches and chairs are welcoming, even amid the overgrown grass, but in places you find the strange artifacts of the set’s true purpose. One-way mirrors and weird hiding-places for cameras are all over the place.
Portraits are less frequently my subject than landscapes, but I’d like to think that this image captures the best of both worlds. As we rolled across the savannah of Zulu Nyala in South Africa, I was able to capture both Piper’s windswept excitement and the broad expanse of green grasses and blue sky in her sunglasses. (And even a hint of our truck and our guide.)
Weaver finches are everywhere in South Africa, building their nests in any tall plant. Safety in numbers, however, pushes them to push their cellulosic hosts to their limits. Trees are completely filled with nests, the avian equivalent of an apartment complex.
In Zulu Nyala reserve in South Africa, the sky is always dramatic and the hills roll on forever. The feeling is primal, that this place has been wild forever. (And hopefully always will be.)
Trips through Zulu Nyala went out morning and evening, and as such we experienced some fantastic late-morning and early-evening scenes. (Particularly if, as on this afternoon, a massive rainstorm had just occurred.) This particular vista includes the mysterious aloe hill, where the other savannah foliage is mysteriously absent, with only the alien aloes remaining. An invasion? Could be.
I had an up-close-and-personal, early-morning meeting with this particular cheetah in Zulu Nyala. (She wears a radio tracking collar so that vets can care for her and her offspring.) Staring into the face of evolution’s high-velocity interceptor on a rainy morning is a more effective wake-up than 100 cups of coffee.
This zebra mare isn’t part of a stallion’s harem yet (she’s young), so she hangs out, grazing and scratching herself on cars, by the tents of Zulu Nyala. Though by no means domesticated, she was remarkably docile (and uninterested in the behavior of the humans going about their daily lives around her.)
The herds of impala in Zulu Nyala Reserve have almost no fear of the people who come to see them. During the wet start of the summer, that leads to scenes like this one: a verdant savannah hillside, dotted with impala and craggy trees and brushed by the breeze. I start to think that there could be no danger to ever disturb this peace—even if I could see the inevitable cheetah hiding in the grass.
African savannah isn’t the homogenous, steady monotony that it appears on the Discovery Channel. (Well, back when the discovery channel showed nature documentaries, anyway.) Dirt roads and hills criss-cross it, and fever trees like this one grow where more water is available. The yellow-green bark comes from photosynthetically active cells. The name comes from an interesting illustration of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: when early European settlers went near water, they tended to contract malaria (thus the fever). They incorrectly attributed this to the trees, rather than the mosquitos breeding in the water.
Atop the hills of South Africa, I was reminded of the composition of one of my favorite pictures (of the Bay Area), and the vast changes that I’ve experienced in the seven months since I took that picture. There I was, on the other side of the planet, looking across a veritable (pardon the cliché) Garden of Eden and the little quarry used to build the lovely structures of the adjacent game lodge.
A couple of hours of sleep following intercontinental travel will never be enough to prepare for a herd (or “tower,” technically) of giraffes in the dawn light. From the back of the Millenium Falcon of off-roading Toyotas, the majesty and immediacy were perfectly balanced.