August 6, 2007

Girls in Kidepo- Now that's Africa!

When we knew the roads would be passable we hired a private taxi to take the girls up to the remote and beautiful Kidepo Valley National Park. Before we go any futher- let’s clarify any image you got at the term “private” taxi. In a town like Kaabong where cars are as common as men on the moon- your options are.. .shall we say- “limited”? We agreed on a price and hoped for the best- when a tiny pick-up pulled up.. We all looked at one another, threw our lofty expectations of a comfy two hour cruise in a Land Rover out the window and literally climbed in. Then, almost in unison we said our motto for the girls’ visit when anything went shockingly wrong- “T.I.A.!” (That is Africa!) However, knowing the price we paid- our shock grew when we bumped our way through town and people literally ran and jumped in- suitcases(or what have you) and all. I had the insane urge to stand up and call “All aboard!!” At last count our “private” pick up bed held twenty people… What a trip!
Two hours later, dusty and bruised, we pulled into Kidepo Valley National Park. Just two weeks before we took Erik and there had been disappointingly no elephants as they had “gone to Sudan” as we were told. So when our ‘luxury’ pick-up lurched to a trembling halt- we were all in awe to see “Bull Bull” the patriarch of the elephants lumbering past the bandas we were to sleep in!
He stopped and used his trunk to get a drink from the water tanks as we all plucked up courage to get as close as we stupidly could for a good photo.
We went on two ‘luxury’ game drives on the flat bed of a crane lorry- but we were not disappointed as we saw no less than 40 elephants! Families of 8 here and there- bulls, mothers and babies huddled up, trunks held high to smell the danger of our sputtering vehicle.
As we took in the sinking sun in a blaze of glory, head-high grass as far as the eye could see, flocks of birds taking flight behind the small families of elephants- we soaked it all in- and I’m sure in our hearts we all said “Now THAT is Africa…”

The Bandas where we stayed in Kidepo. Michelle posing.

Veronika posing inside the bandas...Now this was interesting. There was a large area of pressed down grass with leftover carcass there. Our guide explained that a pride of lions had been there in the last 48 hours and had eaten on a cape buffalo. When you see how massive these buffalos are it hits home how powerful the lions are! So the carcass lay in the middle and each lion would tear off a bit and go eat alone. The only thing leftover that was recognizable was the tail...Gross!
Here's one little family of elephants. How cool is that? I only WISH I could upload the video of the taxi ride.. Now that is priceless.. Maybe some other time. :o)

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