We all went downstairs after breakfast to wait for the Inkwenkwezi people. They showed up in safari Jeeps (which fit up Buccaneers's driveway much better than our bus from the day before) and drove us over. Our driver, Byron, had a very lovely accent. Inkwenkwezi was only six or seven minutes away, but my hair was 100% messed up by the time we arrived, thanks to the Jeep's lack of windows.
|leaving Buccaneers to go see animals!|
Inkwenkwezi's reception building is stunning. They have a restaurant attached to their lobby area where we went to sign our waivers (meaning we couldn't sue if we got eaten by lions) and select what food we wanted to eat after our safari experience. I picked an open-faced chicken tender sandwich and hot fudge sundae for dessert.
|They do weddings, can you tell?|
After signing our lives away, we got back into the Jeeps (I smacked my shin against the metal edge and spent the first four minutes of the ride discretely trying to make sure I wasn't gushing blood. I wasn't. But it still hurt.) Byron drove us into the game reserve, and I completely forgot that it was an enclosure. It seemed like we were out in the African wilderness. Then he stopped the Jeep and announced we were going to walk with elephants. Everyone started freaking out with glee, and we got out of the Jeep and waited for the elephants to be walked over to us.
Mubani had so many cute little quirks. Our activity was called an "elephant walk," but it took us a long time to actually get from point A to point B because Mubani liked to stop and eat the grass instead of walking. She also liked putting the end of her trunk on the ground and blowing out air, making a dirt cloud puff up from the ground. So we all had a fair amount of dirt in our eyes by the end of the hour.
|She's taller in person, I promise. I felt really short standing next to her.|
|This was right after Glen started making lion noises at them.|
Byron told us the lions could easily outrun our car, so we were all nervous. But the lions seemed a little lethargic, just lounging around in the sun. All in all, we saw ten or so lions. I'd gone into the day hoping we might see two, so I was beyond thrilled!
After we left lion country, our Jeep was almost attacked by this beast.
After that, we drove back to the reception area for lunch. My chicken sandwich was delicious, as was the ice cream. The only problem was they only gave me two little scoops of vanilla, not nearly enough ice cream to be satisfying, but they left the pitcher of hot fudge. So my friend Maureen and I poured fudge sauce into our empty bowls, mixed it with the melted ice cream, and ate it with a spoon. It was a fun bonding moment!
Then we ventured into the backyard where there was a zoo-like enclosure. Also known as where they keep the cheetahs. When Byron and the other staff members open the gate and stroll right in, we all got nervous. We knew we were doing the cheetah encounter, but we thought we'd sort of peer in at them through the fence. I felt seriously vulnerable standing in the middle of the enclosure while Byron ducks through some bushes to drag out one of the cheetahs. We kept whispering to each other, "How fast do cheetahs run?" and "Is this actually safe?" But we'd adopted the motto "When in Africa..." throughout the trip, so I kept repeating it to myself. And I'm glad I did!
|I didn't want the cheetah to think I was trying to sneak up on it, but I didn't want to be any closer to the teeth than necessary.|
|The cheetah's fur felt like a super high quality stuffed animal. Except, you know, the cheetah was breathing.|
But that doesn't mean you should stop reading these posts. Stay tuned for next time: the day I contract food poisoning in a foreign country.