On Safari: Spots and Stripes

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The hyenas may have been the highlight of our second morning on safari in Ngala, but they weren’t all we saw.

The morning light had yet to spill over the bush as our Jeep sped along the bumpy, dirt path and a pair of long necks interrupted the terrain before us, creating a much-wanted road block.

I think giraffes are the most fascinating creatures; of all the animals we saw on safari, they’re far and beyond my favorites. How can you not love their pointy ears, lanky silhouettes and knobby knees?

We saw giraffes all over the park, but they weren’t always so obvious. They’re curious, but shy, so you have to peer closely to sometimes spot them watching you from afar, high among the tree branches.

In contrast to our tall, lean, spotted friends, we drove a little further to find some squat striped fellows.


I find zebras some of the silliest of animals. How about them mohawks?

When we were at Safari West last winter, we saw zebras with inverted stripes. This was my first time to see the real deal.

Did you know that their stripes serve multiple functions? They camouflage them, and also (allegedly) attract the opposite sex. Zebra stripes are like fingerprints: No two sets are the same.

I wanted to slap a bridle on one, sling my leg over its torso and ride it bareback. Something tells me that wouldn’t have gone over to well with our safari guide.

  • December 8, 2010

    Gah, SO JEALOUS. Love this. I want to come with you 🙂 I do get two months off in the summer…just sayin’ 😉 If SVV is unavailable, well…you know where to find me.

  • December 8, 2010

    Gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to go to that Safari park in NoCal–it has been moved up on the list. (Africa has also been moved up, coincidentally.)


  • December 8, 2010

    My two favorite animals, right there!

  • December 8, 2010

    We had a similar experience with the giraffes – so many times we came around a corner and there would be a giraffe, just standing in the road. Usually it was just a few but once we saw a group of about 15 all in one clearing. They must have hear something because suddenly they all started running. There is nothing stranger than the sight of a giraffe running; it’s incredibly awkward (but oddly graceful at the same time) the way their long legs and long necks kind of move together.

  • December 8, 2010

    How can you NOT love giraffes! (their eyelashes are so flirty!). Zebras are fun to look at, but they are just about impossible to train for riding — they get real mean, real fast, if you try. What a privilege, though, that you’re able to see these all of these wonderful animals roaming free, as they were intended to.

  • December 8, 2010

    great pix! Those are some knobby kneed giraffes! Seriously, why do they have horns? Did you see them ever using their horns?

  • December 8, 2010

    I too loved the giraffes. They’re beautiful in a very different kind of way. I have to admit that I got a little sick of zebras after seeing them in huge numbers at Kruger, Hluhluwe, Addo Elephant, and Mountain Zebra parks, but then when we got to Etosha in Namibia I fell in love with them. On the slightly surreal pans of Etosha, they looked almost like hallucinations when you’d spot them standing in herds, all of their stripes merging together.

  • December 8, 2010

    I have to pinch myself everytime I go on safari, are they real???
    It is the sublimest of trips, anyone interested in joining me on my next escorted safari
    just go to my web-site Travelswithsara.net I will meet you there…

  • December 8, 2010

    Grrrrrrrrr how can you say that you love giraffes more than elephants!?! You know, I thought we were friends, but now…

    Haha, j/k, LOVE the photos!!! Sure miss Kruger now!

  • December 8, 2010

    Giraffes are the best!

  • December 8, 2010

    Giraffes have the longest fall from mama in the animal kingdom when she gives birth.

    Also, I perversely want to live somewhere that allows me to keep a herd (gerd?) as hiking companions. I imagine they could carry quite a bit of carpets, tents and sheesha and then whenever I was lost I’d haul myself up them gorgeous necks to look around (and stroke their soft bumper pool horns..)

  • December 8, 2010

    I had the same compulsion to ride the zebras. And although I liked the giraffes very much the elephants were my Favorite.

  • December 9, 2010

    Wow, you saw so much wildlife on your trip! I thought I saw a lot there but you saw twice as much. The knobby is are really cute 🙂

  • December 10, 2010

    Love your pic of the giraffe’s knees. Love how the background foliage doesn’t overpower some of the other pics. Nice work.

  • December 12, 2010

    I cannot believe how close up you got!

  • January 6, 2011

    Amazing, amazing, amazing! Going on safari is on my bucket list and I want to check it off soon! I’m so jealous! But so happy you had this experience!

  • February 1, 2011

    Absolutely lovely photos. I went South Africa in 2002, with a crap camera, so I have very little evidence, but it was a magical trip.

    • February 1, 2011

      Thanks, Jenny! I know how you feel: I lived in Scotland in 2003 and backpacked all over Europe during that time and stupidly didn’t take my SLR. Just a crappy film P&S, and all my photos are terrible. Ditto to living in Holland in 2005 and Denmark in 2006; I thought it would be such a burden to take my “real camera” so I just took along a Nikon Coolpix, which took the blurriest shots unless I had absolutely perfect natural light. So frustrating to not have photographic memories of such trips, right?

  • February 4, 2011

    Thanks for the beautiful photos !!!

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