Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Talk to the Animals

You don't just have to sit in the back of a game viewing vehicle and watch the animals in Africa, you can touch them and interact with them too. Don't get me wrong. I'm not recommending that you leap out of the vehicle, run over to the nearest lioness and give her a big squeeze. Neither am I suggesting that you try to share your morning tea with a spotted hyena.

What you can do though is visit Moholoholo Wild Animal Sanctuary near Kruger National Park in South Africa. On my last visit they had a baby hippo that met you at the entrance gate and followed you around like a dog until he got too hot and tired, at which point he flopped down in the middle of the path and went to sleep. There was also a baby white rhino being cared for by a pair of Aussie volunteers. We were able to stoke him and watch him being fed with an enormous bottle of milk.  You could also have vultures perch on your arm (very heavy), and you could pat a honey badger, which I've always thought would be a little like patting a chainsaw. This one was quite friendly though. The animals they have there vary all the time depending on what has come in and what has been re-released. They rehabilitate wild animals that have been injured or orphaned due to human activity. Go and take a look, it's a great place.

Further north at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Livingstone in Zambia there is the "Lion Encounter." I guarantee you'll love this. You are able to walk through the bush accompanied by two or three lion cubs. You are able to stroke them, pat them and watch them interact with their natural environment. Of course you are escorted by their handlers but the lions are free to wander and do what they want - sniff, climb trees, flop down and sleep etc. You have to do this. It really is magical.

Also at Victoria Falls and Livingstone you can do an Elephant Back Safari. Here you assemble at a bush lodge early in the morning and are introduced to the elephants and their mahouts. Next you climb aboard for a lovely peaceful walk through the African bush with some stunning views of the Zambezi gorge close to the Victoria Falls itself. After your elephant back safari you hand-feed your elephant his or her breakfast before sitting down to your own cooked meal.

Then in Nairobi there is the wonderful Giraffe Centre. A day trip here enables you to see eye to eye with these beautiful creatures. You can feed them too. Watch out for their amazing eighteen inch long blue tongues which seem to have a mind of their own. getting licked by one is like being whipped across the face with a sheet of sandpaper. The Karen Blixen Museum is nearby too so why not visit both - especially if you're a fan of "Out of Africa."

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