The bottom row of 3 photos is my home in the Baobab tree and view from the room.
It was early morning and still dark when I stepped off an overnight flight from Washington, DC onto the tarmac of the small Dakar airport. The airplane had stopped for an hour to refuel and drop off and pick up passengers before continuing to Johannesburg, South Africa. I disembarked to visit a friend and her family for the next six days, and though I was tired, I couldn’t wait to explore Senegal.
A few hours after arriving we were on our way to Palmarin and the Sine Saloum Delta in rural Senegal. A well-paved highway takes you out of the city and further onto a two-way road through towns and villages. As the sight of Dakar faded in the distance, I looked ahead to the open road and couldn’t believe I was in Africa.
Scenes of meat and fruit stands by the roadside, unfinished buildings and crumbling sidewalks, women in colorful attire, roaming goats, salt flats and baobab trees, donkey carts and horse carts and women carrying water or pounding maize played out in front of me.
After Joal, we found ourselves on the worst road I’ve ever traveled. I thought we were going to lose a tire to the large potholes that filled the road. As we came out on the other side of that bumpy red earthy road with tires intact, I smiled.
I was on an adventure of a lifetime and on my way to spend my first night ever on the continent of Africa in a majestic Baobab tree at Collines de Niassam Lodge.
Arriving back at Naledi Game Lodge in South Africa for my third time, I had only one wish — to be surrounded by elephants. I was yearning to have more time with my favourite animal, observing it in its natural habitat.
I had already gone on the morning game drive and decided to spend 3 hours at a hide. I was just finishing breakfast when I noticed an elephant on the television screen that was mounted on the wall. I soon realized that it was the webcam feed from the hide I was planning to visit.
The bull elephant was still at the waterhole when we arrived, but it was off camera and to the side, eating some leaves. After an okay from Sipho, a tracker at Naledi, I quickly moved from the game drive vehicle, up the stairs and over to the side to get a good view of the elephant.
Suddenly the elephant emitted a rumbling sound. Sipho explained that the bull elephant was communicating. Sure enough, three more elephants came by for a drink. One by one they arrived at the waterhole and went to the back of the waterhole by the trees and furthest point from the hide.
Then an elephant that Sipho called “Flopsy” because of his floppy right ear was the last of the five elephants to arrive. He passed in front of the hide and nodded his head as if to say hello and joined the others at the waterhole.
Flopsy (elephant on the right) and his friends at a waterhole.
They spent about 45 minutes drinking and eating off to the right side of the hide. I couldn’t believe all the time I had with them, alone, as Sipho had left shortly after Flopsy arrived. I got a little emotional and even thanked them for the visit.
The next day while on a game drive, we heard branches breaking in the distance. Mike (the guide) followed the noise into the bush. We found a group of about 12-13 elephants. I immediately thought it was “my elephants” as I had seen eight elephants all together at the hide the day before.
While Mike, Sipho & I were watching the elephants in front of us, we suddenly heard branches breaking behind us. We couldn’t see it; we could only hear it. After a few minutes, it came out from behind the tree and continued to eat nearby. It was Flopsy.
He was so close to the vehicle that I switched to my iPhone to get a few shots and started recording. I giggled because I couldn’t believe how close he was and that I had to use my iPhone.
Then, this happened.
Thanks to the expert guiding of Mike and fantastic tracking of Sipho, this experience will long live in my heart. I was completely calm and felt safe.
I have always believed that elephants were magical. Now I know it’s true.
The bull elephant that rumbled
We left the elephant sighting and found that one of the males had gone for a walk.
This Mother’s Day I’m honouring animal mothers and their babies. This series of animals were photographed in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in Kruger National Park and the greater Kruger area in South Africa.
One of my favourite animal mothers to watch is baboons.
This little one couldn’t have been more than a month old. I first found it napping with mom standing over it.
Mama giraffe cleans her newborn. This giraffe was about an hour old. When we arrived at the sighting, we found it surrounded by eight hyenas. Mom stood on guard until the baby giraffe stood up. Happy to report that hyena did not attack. See video below.
Mom and baby black rhino
These cubs are part of a pride of 9 lions and were about three months old in this photo. This kill was one of their first meat based meals.
This baby giraffe just finished suckling from its mom.
Watched this pair of baboons for a while as they walked through an open area with their troop. The baby would hitch a ride then climb down to suckle and return to its spot on mom’s back.
With Father’s Day around the corner, I couldn’t resist this one of this lion cub and his father. This cub is one of the cubs from the photo above of the lioness and her three cubs. In this image; he’s about nine months old.