photography & words by Kristen Kellogg
It may cross your mind at the end of day one on Safari (like it did for me) that an entire week in the bush may become a little repetitive after a few days of driving around animals spotting every early morning and afternoon. I realized on day two I couldn’t have been more wrong thinking this way. Spotting a cheetah kill, seeing three month old lion cubs in the wild, watching baby warthogs at play, seeing a hippo out of the water during the daylight, and so much more had me in awe all week long. Each day was so unbelievably different!
The experience you have really is in the hands of your guide(s). Each of our five guides were outstanding and taught me more than I ever expected to learn in such a short time span. If I could share one of the most important takeaways from this experience, don’t just keep your eyes and ears open looking out for animals. Give just as much attention to your guide and listen to every little bit of information he or she throws at you. And ask as many questions as you can think of!
Here are fifteen fun facts I learned on my Safari in South Africa.
1. If you’re ever in a situation where you’re being squeezed by a python, if you squeeze the throat, it can’t breathe and must release its hold. I learned this after our driver caught the one pictured below as went to dinner down the road one evening and didn’t tell anyone he had it in a box in the front seat by his feet for half of the ride home. Eek! We hopped out of the van as he opened the box to let it back out into the wild. But…you probably shouldn’t try this one on your own.
2. Even after a rhino dies, the skin doesn’t decompose for many years.
3. A lion can tell if his lioness is capable of reproduction by smelling her. The lioness can mate every fifteen minutes for up to three days!
4. A female cheetah makes a high pitched call (in general, and) for her young to rejoin her just after she’s made a kill.
5. There really are warts on a warthog; on their heads. The female has two and the male has four. They actually protect their eyes when they are running through the brush.
6. Despite their extended appearance, there are only seven vertebrate in the giraffes neck just like humans.
7. While Africa is known for The Big Five, there’s also The Ugly Five, The Little Five, and The Shy Five.
The Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant, and Buffalo
The Ugly Five: Warthog, Vulture, Hyena, Marabou Stork, and Wildebeest
The Little Five: Leopard Tortoise, Elephant Shrew, Antlion, Buffalo Weaver, Rhinoceros Beetle
The Shy Five: Meerkat, Aardvark, Porcupine, Aardwolf and Bat-eared Fox
8. You can tell if a Zebra is male or female by looking at their bum’s. The female has a broader black area under the tail than the male.
9. Giraffe is one of the only animals that chew on deceased animals bones. When they do this, it means they are looking for calcium.
10. If you think about skipping a game drive one day, do it on a windy day. It’s more difficult to spot the animals as many move into the covered bush.
11. Elephants eat 20-21 hours a day. When they appear to be eating breakfast, lunch or dinner like a lady as pictured below, they’re really just to taking a load off.
12. Hippos generally stay in the water during the day because their skin can’t take the sun.
13. Cheetahs don’t actually need to drink water to survive. They can live off of the blood they drink from their kill if necessary.
14. A white rhino has a wide mouth and a black (more rare) rhino has a small mouth.
15. While a chameleon is incredibly cute and cuddly looking, you should steer clear of handling them at night. They will likely die if you pick them up after dark because their body temperature has a hard time adjusting to your own.
Have a fun fact you learned on your own Safari? Well tell us already and leave a comment below!
More Safari photos on our Instagram here.