Africa - Wild Animals! - Michael Burke

Africa - Wild Animals!


June 23, 2016

Seven days into our trip to southern Africa, another guy in our group mentioned that he had tried but failed to convince a friend to join him on the tour. The friend’s logic - “I can see all of the animals at the zoo.” The very next morning, while driving to an airstrip for our flight to our next camp, we came across a pack of wild dogs (one of Africa’s most endangered species) that had just killed a kudu antelope. We had front row seats to one of the most primal and important aspects of life in the wild: survival. Even now my pulse quickens just thinking about it. Later I told him “You can’t see that in a zoo!”

If you haven’t been on a game safari in Africa, no book or video will adequately prepare you for the experience. How could it? The smells, the sounds, even the discomfort of early morning game drives, bouncing around in an open vehicle for hours each day…all are part of the rich tapestry to be woven while exploring Africa in the wild.

Then there are the birds, the people and the exigencies of life in some of the poorest countries in the world. The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is said to be 80% (not a typo) and the currency is sold as a souvenir, but the people there are creative, hardworking and happy in spite of their plight. I plan to write separate blogs about the birds and people/places. Today, the focus is on animals.

Sherry and I spent twelve days “glamping” in tented camps in four national parks: Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Kafue National Park in Zambia and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. We also visited Victoria Falls and Cape Town, South Africa. It was a wonderful way to sate our desire to experience life in southern Africa, and stoked our interest to return.

But, the animals…

This trip is the culmination of years of longing for and, finally, planning a trip to Africa. It didn’t just meet my expectations - it blew my mind. I can only hope that some of the images I brought back do justice to the extraordinary beauty, power and majesty of the land. Upon re-reading them, my words feel inadequate.

For more images of animals from our trip, you can go to my Flickr album.

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