Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pace in South Africa

The South Africa Discovery Student Adventure trip ends with a memorable stay in the bush at Kruger National Park where you’ll experience some amazing encounters!

There is a definite rhythm to Africa. It marches to a beat that’s held steady through thousands of years of history, so that when you move away from the frenetic pace that comes with any urban setting, you feel it through the land itself. South Africa’s northeast corner, home to the famous Kruger National Park, holds that rhythm throughout the bush and all the inhabitants that call it home — I would argue the insect life could rival the best metronome!

One of the best ways to experience the rhythm of the bushveld is to take a morning walk with the rangers. The walk takes you out through the bush to experience it firsthand, and if you’re lucky, you’ll experience it with lion cubs!
The rangers head a lion breeding project that aims to introduce healthy lions into the Kruger ecosystem to counteract the existing population’s instances of tuberculosis, so when the program has lion cubs (up to the age of about 5 months) in house, they take them out for their daily exercise and bush experience. Walking with cubs while seeing and learning about the bush is exciting and, for most of us city dwellers, a bit surreal. The cubs were quite the characters, as our pilot students could attest , but Prince the Yellow Labrador is also quite memorable. Prince has helped raised many lion cubs with his ranger owner and he has the scars to prove it — not scars incurred in dangerous encounters, but from wrestling and playing with oversized kittens who are still learning how to use their sharp claws and teeth and who have no idea they outweigh their “pride leader.” The “mini pride” walks through the bush each morning, playing and exploring; rangers don’t need to worry about cubs wandering off into the bush or running away from them — where Prince goes, the cubs go. Walking with lions made for a very memorable morning with the most unique traffic. Lions may be king, but even kings (or Princes) do not hurry an elephant!

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