Day 86

Today we were in Durban, South Africa and our excursion was to the Tala Game Reserve at 11:45. We had a leisurely breakfast and got caught up on yesterday’s events. The bus drove through town and got a glimpse of the busy markets and streets. Tala Game Reserve was a bit over an hour from the ship. We were served juice and pastries while we waited for the earlier game drive vehicles to return, drop off their passengers, and allow us to board. We had some time to poke around their shop for handmade items. We purchased a handmade, colorful wall hanging of the “big five” animals: lion, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, and leopard.

Our group loaded into 2 safari jeeps that held about 20 people each and set out a bit before 2PM with our guide, Lonely (probably not his real name). We first came upon a group of ostriches and watched them for several minutes while taking photos. Lonely had stopped the jeep, explained a bit about the life of an ostrich, and waited until he thought we were done. Over the next hill there were 4 or 5 giraffes, but they had decided to eat and were under trees where we could not see their heads. After waiting awhile to see if they would emerge, Lonely got out of the jeep and went to their rear to try to coax them to come nearer to us. It worked and we got some very nice pictures of some family groups. During our 2 hour drive we also saw hippos in the lake, wildebeests, impalas, antelope, nyala, kudus, zebras, and endangered white rhinos. The six that we observed were a mother and 8 month old calf and three other females, one of whom was pregnant. Our guide’s educated eye could tell; mine could not. We also saw the lone male who was siring these babies. All rhinos have had their horns removed in hopes of discouraging poachers from killing them for their horns. They were still in danger because there is still ivory under their skin, so there are guards posted round the clock to guard them. There were guards at yesterday’s park as well, but they didn’t believe in removing their horns. I suppose this is a hotly contested issue. This reserve did not have lions or elephants, so the animals here had no real predators except people. It was a very enjoyable, educational tour.

Tonight was the crew’s variety show, but we arrived back at the ship right before this and did not go. It was also formal night, so it took a bit longer to get ready for dinner. We had been invited to join cruise director Jamie and his wife, Dana, for dinner this evening. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that Art and Joanie were also at the table. We had a lot of fun. Jamie and Dana are great people and very dedicated hard workers.

Graffiti Classics performed again tonight, with an equally entertaining show. The violins, viola, and cello are used to play classical numbers with a comic twist – hard to explain, but very funny. They also sing and dance while playing their instruments. No one looks at music. It is all memorized.

Tomorrow we will be in East London and doing our last safari. I sure hope we will get to see elephants. That is all that is missing from my wish list.

Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac