Admiring wildlife from a different vantage point.
When our hotel, &Beyond, informed us that we were going on a river cruise, we were not expecting anything remarkable. Sure, we would get to see more wildlife but how exciting could the cruise really be in comparison to our game drives?
Turns out the answer was, much to our surprise and delight, very.
When we arrived at the dock, we were welcomed by our South African tour guide who casually stood onboard a small boat with six swivel chairs. Each chair had a professional camera attached to it. Our guide promptly shared that each of us would be given an 8GB memory card and could take as many photos as we liked during the 3 hour cruise. We were caught off guard by this wonderful proposition and immediately sat down so that the guide could help us get adjusted. Having zero photography experience between the two of us, my husband and I beamed with excitement and glee as the guide walked us through the different functions of the camera. We knew in that moment that the river cruise was going to be different and special.
The nagging discomfort of the 40 degree Celsius (or approximately 110 degree Fahrenheit) heat soon dissipated as my eyes continuously scoured the horizon in search of wildlife. It was such an amazing experience to see the animals in their natural habitat, roaming the vast, open lands, cohabiting in peaceful symbiosis. Where else would we be able to see elephants, zebras, giraffes, impalas and baboons all in one place? Where else would we be able to watch from safe proximity as hippos slowly submerged and reemerged, blinking their sleepy eyes as they rested one on top of another?
I witnessed different birds hunting and was lucky to be able to capture the moments when these birds captured their prey. As an amateur photographer, I’m pretty damn proud of the next two photos!
One of my favorite memories that has been deeply etched into my mind is watching herds of elephants as they proudly and quickly marched towards the water. The young and old huddled close together as they drank liberally from the long river. They repeatedly threw chunks of moist mud onto their backs in attempt to seek comfort from the scorching heat and to keep the many, many flies at bay.
We disembarked the boat dehydrated and damp with sweat but feeling euphoric having observed so many wonderful, candid moments that we never dreamed of seeing. I’m so glad that we braved the heat to experience this photo safari.