Safari Guide Essentials: the game drive backpack…

Ever wondered what your guide carries in their backpack? No? Didn’t think so. But this afternoon I had a bit of down time and decided to clean all of my junk out of my game viewer and take stock of what I’ve been storing in there for the last few weeks and do some neat and tidy repacking…

And here’s what I keep in my backpack and take on each and every game drive. I’m not counting the blankets and ponchos that belong to the lodge, I’m just talking about all of my personal stuff here. And it turns out there’s a lot of it.

 

amazingly, everything really did come out of the backpack. except the spotlight. but everything else is genuine backpack contents.

 
Portable air compressor: The master plan is never to get stuck with a flat tire ever again. Best thing is that it actually fits so snugly in the bottom of my backpack…

Glass water bottles: love hydration, hate plastic bottles…

Emergency torch: for like, emergencies…

A scorpion torch: Um… For scorpion-related emergencies?

Spare binoculars: these are ones the guests can use, because they sure as moose can’t use mine…

My binoculars: MINE.

Leatherman: I’ve carried one for years and really only ever used it on game drives to open wine bottles, but it’s purple…

Sunglasses: a must. Mine are made from wood and I love them…

A buff: in case the wind picks up and my hair starts flapping around everywhere. Notable absence on this list, a hairbrush…

Book ‘When Hippo Was Hairy’: this has so many cute stories that I like to read to my guests at drink stops…

Roberts Bird Guide: a little tattered, but a lot loved…

Leather notebook: full of random ramblings, the lyrics to the gnu song, as well as questions guests ask me. Maybe even the odd poem or two. And my poems are very odd…

Pens: pink and purple, because I’m still a girl…

Lip Ice: necessary and SPFish.

Hand Sanitizer: I give this to guests more often than I use it. Yesterday I drove for two hours with my hands caked in buffalo poo.

Cetaphil SPF moisturizer: I use this as facial sunscreen. I’ve tried lots of other products and I’m not happy with anything else. Protecting your face out here is so important…

Nivea Sunscreen: for the rest of me. My hands tend to get burnt when driving…

Personal first aid kit: my vehicle has its own, but it’s always nice to carry a personal one too…

Spotlight: I bought my own battery powered spotlight that comes on every drive with me and never breaks. So far…

Waterproof jacket: To keep some credibility I pop this on when it starts to rain, even though secretly I love and adore the standard issue lodge ponchos that everyone else laughs at.

iPad: This has replaced so many of my books now. Whatever I don’t have an app for, I have a kindle book for. It’s like carrying 60 guide books without taking up all the space in the vehicle I need for my hand sanitizer and scorpion torch…

So there you have it, the things I take on all of my game drives. I’ll be posting something soon about what you should take on safari. I might even share the dodgy YouTube video I made on the subject a while back. Maybe.

Love Safariosophy.

Once You’ve Walked…

 

africa on foot… how it’s meant to be done…

 
Once you’ve walked in Africa, you’ll never want to safari any other way. Love.

This morning’s walking safari sightings:

Black Mamba! More than 10 glorious minutes spent watching her cruise about looking for breakfast.

Giraffe

Zebra

White rhino

Kudu 

Joy’s in the Palm of my Hand…

 

joy. love. dung beetle.

 
Okay, so overlook the glaring fact that I look a little like a crazed lunatic about to pop that dung beetle in my mouth and swallow it whole. Unfortunately for me, that’s  actually my ‘joy face.’ Because that’s what dung beetles are. Pure joy.

There’s a lot to admire in a tiny dung beetle. I find joy in their strength. I find joy in their single-minded determination. I find joy in their purpose. They live for poo. It’s their everything; their joy. They craft it, bury it, live in it, make babies in it, have babies in it, eat it, roll it, hoard it, even produce it themselves on occasion. It’s everything to them. What’s your everything?

I hope that you’ll get the chance to spend a few minutes or a few hours in their world. They are joy.

Love. 

Bush walk sightings this morning:

Dung beetles

Elephant

Buffalo

White rhino

Black rhino

Impala 

Zebra

Giraffe

so blurry… so very very blurry… camera couldn’t handle the awesomeness…

Safari sites I love: Check out Safari KZN

 

come on safari with me. you get juice boxes. who doesn’t love juice boxes?

 
2016 has been a year of brilliant safaris so far! Not counting the time one of my guests threw a coffee cup at a charging lion. Or the time I was spat in the face by a cobra. But forget those. In the link below there’s a great write up of one of those brilliant safaris. I don’t think I’ve ever been called a ‘Canadian lady’ before! Kind of love it.

And Safari KZN is a pretty fabulous resource for anyone looking to visit our area.

Go do some reading and get inspired to come on safari. With me. Juice.

The article is here. When you click it. So click it 🙂

A superfly super-fly

Just back now from my morning game drive. So many amazing little moments, but my favourite was this delicate little fly sitting on my mirror. I still believe that if you can’t love the little fly on your mirror, you can’t love a lion either. Nature kind of comes as one big, complicated package…

Just look at his eyes! Those eyes! Really, those eyes…

Other sightings this morning:

Samango monkey (!!!!!!!)

Vervet monkey

Nyala

Buffalo

Wildegnu

Giraffe

Gymnogene

Dung beetle

Super-fly fly

Let’s start with a mouthful of venom. Literally.

It was bound to happen eventually. It was bound to happen because I’m the girl who runs after snakes and not away from them. The one who decides to pick one up and remove it gently from the road as soon as I’m “Oooh, about reasonably, sort of 80% confident that it’s nothing too venomous…”. I’m the one who likes to snap snake photos at eye level by getting down on the ground with one. And I’m also the girl who jumps at the opportunity to remove snakes from safari lodge rooms, because I’m terrified they’ll be ‘removed’ in ‘other ways.’ I can’t bear the thought. I can’t even type the thought.

So this morning during breakfast, a guest casually mentioned they had a brown snake curled around their headboard. I knew I had to be the first ‘on the scene,’ so instead of thinking sensible thoughts beforehand, I ploughed right into the situation. It didn’t take long to see a shiny rope of scales wedged between the wall and the headboard. I knew right away it wasn’t what I had suspected given the description (Brown House Snake, because wouldn’t that be lovely?) When it suddenly popped its head out, just inches from mine, the ambiguity vanished. Fast. Mozambican Spitting Cobra. “We’ve got a cobra!” I excitedly announced to my inquisitive guests.

Foreigners never believe you when you tell them that something is a cobra. It’s like ‘cobra’ has become such an mythical entity in our culture that people don’t realize that a cobra can exist outside of cartoons or the remotest Indian jungles.

“Really?” They asked? “A cobra?”

“Yep! And they spit their venom and…” At that point I became very aware of the fact that I wasn’t wearing anything over my eyes, and I instinctively raised my hand to my forehead, as if I was blocking out the sun or something. Real smart. And real effective. Not really.

With my hand held above my eyes and doing some kind of ridiculous salute to the wall, I continued, “I’ll definitely need to go and grab some sunglasses before we try and…”

And the cobra, reputed for perfectly aiming venom at its victim’s eyes, chooses this moment, when my mouth is open particularly wide as I pronounce the word ‘and,’ to shoot two streams of delicious cytotoxic venom directly into my open mouth. Some landed on my lips and cheek too.

I may have screamed. It got me. I may have screamed “It got me!”

But with the words, came the taste. It didn’t taste good. Oh, and the realization that my mouth was full of spit. But not my spit. Cobra spit. I rushed to the bathroom and started to shovel water into my mouth and rinse as quickly as possible. Over the course of a minute I must have passed hundreds of liters through my mouth. Like a whale. Feeding on plankton.

I kind of love that my guests awkwardly asked if I would be okay and I said yes and then they said, “Uh, we’ll go to breakfast now…” And they left. I was left with the snake. And a mouth full of its still awful tasting venom. And with the most dangerous factor of all, Google.

It’s amazing how there are about 9,472 websites solely dedicated to how and why the spitting cobra is so accurate and always hits the eyes (from super-far away, apparently), and yet there are no answers anywhere to the question:

“What happens when an incompetent young spitting cobra misses your eyes and gets you in the mouth instead?”

I have a snake bite app on my phone, which tells me that ‘If venom lands on the hair, face, arms or elsewhere on the body, it poses no great threat.’ No great threat? Like, there’s some kind of ‘lesser threat?’ And it wasn’t in my hair, it was IN MY MOUTH. What happens when it’s in your mouth?

I have this thing I like to tell guests all the time on game drives. When I’m explaining the difference between poison and venom, I tell people that you should be able to drink snake or scorpion venom, because quite unlike poison, it needs to be injected directly into the bloodstream to really do anything. On those game drives, I sound a little like this:

“Haha, so really, I could just swallow cobra venom and it should be fine, haha. But, I don’t think I’ll be testing that theory anytime soon! Haha! Haha haha.”

Haha.

Not so funny now.

Test the theory, I did. I’m still doing. Because this only happened about an hour ago. And I love that I can feel literally EVERYTHING that’s happening in my mouth. Mouth mindfulness. All of my attention is right there. Every tingle of the tongue, every bad taste detected by every little tastebud. The smallest little ache screams in my face. I keep reassuring myself that most of what I feel is probably down to the erupting wisdom teeth I’m too chicken to remove. Probably. But I can also rest easy knowing that if anything wild was going to happen, it would have happened by now, even though this horrid taste has persisted through about 14 intensive toothbrushings. So all is good. All is cool. I think.

But I’m definitely going to make sure that this page comes up the next time another innocent victim googles, “what happens when an incompetent young spitting cobra misses your eyes and gets you in the mouth instead?” Here’s the answer. Nothing. Okay, a bit of panic, and a taste not unlike paint thinner (which I’ve sampled in the past), but the theory is true, a little venom in the mouth probably isn’t the end of world. Unless you’ve just had dental surgery. Or have throat ulcers. Or stomach ulcers. Or like a huge tear in your esophagus. Or your lip’s just been split open in a freak accident with a soup can. But let’s not think about that.

Anyway, welcome to Safariosophy! I’m a wildly passionate safari guide, and this is a place to share with you my Safariosophy; my love for the little things, my delight in nature and all the wonderful, transformative and mindful moments you can only experience on African safari.

But not today. Today a cobra spat in my face.

Until next time. Maybe…

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He was eventually removed happily and ethically from the room via the world’s longest feather duster…

 

Author Interview: Writer Wednesday

Hard at work on the new book...

Hard at work on the new book…

I never disappeared completely! Last week I featured on fellow writer Elle Field’s blog, where she interviewed me about all things authory.  Here’s a little taster…

3. Whatʼs the most enjoyable part of writing?

When it all just ʻclicksʼ and flows and comes together. To me, thatʼs the most satisfying feeling – when you donʼt have to sit and spend forever analyzing a sentence youʼve just written. Itʼs the best feeling when you suddenly look up and realize youʼve written thousands of words and havenʼt even thought about it.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?

Definitely ʻThe Stinky Cheese Manʼ by John Scieszka. Unlike a lot of people, I didnʼt grow up with it as a classic. I only discovered it a couple of years ago in a bookshop when I was book shopping for a child. I think I sat in that shop and read the whole thing! Naturally, I bought it and Iʼm pretty sure it was the best gift ever. Scieszka has the most fabulous and twisted sense of humour and itʼs not so different from how Iʼd write if I felt I had total, absolute freedom. I think itʼs completely wasted on children!

Definitely have a look at the whole interview and the rest of the blog while you’re at it.  Elle writes the only chick lit I allow myself to indulge in and I love it! Her blog is also fabulous, girly and fun.  Well worth a good visit 🙂

Click:

Clicky click click…

#amwriting

#amwriting

Two Years Later…

Goodness me.  A lot has happened in the almost two years since I’ve touched a blog.  But the release of the follow up to ‘An Unlikely Safari Guide’ is due out soon and for the first time in two years, I have an internet connection that can handle the demands of a blog.  Isn’t ‘blog’ a great word?  Blog blog blog.  ‘I’m on the blog again.’  ‘Bringin’ bloggin’ back…’

I’ve also decided to revive my old beloved ‘Love Kalahari blog.’  You’ll find those posts here if you go far enough back in time.

So for now, while I decide what content to bombard you with, here’s a selfie.

IMG_3049 copy

The Bird I Love…

The Bird I Love...

This is Ron Swanson. He’s a young Lanner Falcon and I’ve been flying him for a few months now.

Ron is a rehab bird. At the beginning of the year, he flew into a window. I know. He’s not very smart. But then birds of prey generally aren’t. They’re the ultimate hunting machine, with a set of huge, well-developed eyes. Big eyes = small brain. I have super-tiny eyes. Ron doesn’t.

So anyway, he flew himself into a window and got a tremendous bump on his head. Then he spent a lot of time in a hospital, which he LOVED because his food was dropped into his mouth each day. To be able to do nothing and still eat is every bird of prey’s biggest dream.

And now Ron needs to get fit if he’s ever going to go back to the wild where he was born and belongs. So I fly him hard to a lure. It means I get to stand in the middle of a field swinging a leather pad at the end of a string while he finds some super-high perch and laughs at me from it. And I love every moment of it.

I’m really just telling you all of this so that I can show off a photo of him today that I washed in pink. I like pink.

Months of Tedious Camera Trapping Finally Pays Off…

Months of Tedious Camera Trapping Finally Pays Off...

For months and months now, I’ve been putting out a camera trap on most nights. And every morning I scan through countless photos of duikers. Nothing too exciting.

So today when I started flipping through the duiker photos from last night, I found that one of the duikers wasn’t alone. A serval! I knew they were supposed to be on the farm, but still couldn’t imagine them being here. But they totally are.

Sometimes I bait the camera trap with dead things (no shortage of those around here) and last night it was baited with a yellow-billed kite that we tragically found dead on the main road nearby. While plenty of duikers (and a serval, obviously) came to investigate it last night, nothing took it. So the trap is set once again. Can’t wait to see if our spotty cat comes back…

Serval!

An Empty Box

An Empty Box

This is an empty box. But it’s an empty box that used to contain a Jackal Buzzard. We set it free yesterday (the bird, not the box, we still beed the box). And because I’m rocking a five year old iphone 3, my camera wasn’t quite quick enough to capture the bird majestically flying to freedom.

This is what raptor rehab is all about and it was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.

Upon release, our buzzard promptly flew up in to a tree and was mobbed by fork-tailed drongos. Love.

An Unlikely Safari Guide. Finally.

An Unlikely Safari Guide.  Finally.

It’s complete! I’ll stop neglecting the blog now. Promise. I’ve been busy! Excuses, excuses. But at present I’m caring for about a hundred raptors. Very rewarding, but takes a lot of time. But that’s irrelevant, because my book is finally out!

You’ll find it on Amazon’s around the world, for a tiny price. So just do it. Tell me what you think.

Paperback is coming soon, as is a release to ibooks in the next few months.

No Amazon? Send me a message and we’ll make a plan.

And how’s that for a cover? COOKIES. I made them, then I ate them.

Enjoy the book y’all!

The Hawaiian Goose. You Need It In Your Life.

Vanishing Species

I really, really like birds.  So there was no better way to spend last Saturday than at Montecasino’s charming bird gardens in Johannesburg, South Africa.  You could almost call it a Vanishing Species outing, with Kate Booker and I hopping about the gardens (okay, I was hopping and she was walking normally), pointing, ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ at every fabulous bird in sight.  And there were plenty of fabulous birds in sight.  Throughout the afternoon, our attention was pulled back and forth, with familiar birds competing with the strange and exotic for our attention.

While trying to decide whether a Knob-billed Duck was in fact a Knob-billed duck (it was- they only have knobs on their bill during breeding season and females don’t have them at all), something unusual swum through the scene.

What a striking little goose!  It was swimming with a smattering of local ducks and geese, but it…

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Poor Little Bloggie…

I love my little sightings blog dearly, but my internet connection just isn’t strong enough anymore to load the page, let alone post anything.

I have 6 weeks of updates that I’d love to post, and just can’t. 6 weeks of amazing happenings.

For the time being, I’m moving over to Twitter, because it seems to work well out here.

So go and follow me on Twitter:

@annapangolin

And hopefully I’ll have a new internet solution soon!

From my other blog: http://www.vanishingspecies.org. The rhino situation is totally unbearble.

Vanishing Species

It’s August 25. Rhinos poached this year in South Africa: 356. Three hundred and fifty six.

There aren’t really any words. When is this going to end?

What can I do?

Even little things can help. If you’re in South Africa, head over to Woolworths and pick up one of their beautiful Rhino shopping totes, sponsored by Wildlife Act SA for R30. R10 will go towards anti-poaching measures.

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