Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lion Park

Hi again. Long time, no post. We are enjoying this special time that we are having with my dad. He was busy with Timothy Leadership training last week and Darin has been chauffeuring him around to various meetings this week. We are beyond grateful that my dad is able to use the talents and gifts God has blessed him with here in South Africa so that we can also spend time with him. It is so good to spend time with someone who knows us!

On Monday my dad had a meeting with some people at the University. While he was in his meeting the kids enjoyed climbing trees and watching koi swim in a pond. We enjoyed a picnic lunch outside while we waited. When the meeting was over we headed to Johannesburg for a visit to the Lion Park. We had to call a friend to get directions as we are no longer able to look online for that information and were a little surprised when we pulled up to the entrance. We thought we had asked for directions to the Rhino and Lion Park, which is where we went back in 2008, but now we were at the Lion Park instead. It looked to be a very similar place (minus the rhinos) so we decided to stay.

We had a fantastic time. We started out by driving through the lion, cheetah and wild dog camps. It was the middle of the day and quite hot, so the animals were mostly lazing around in the shade. There were 3 different lion camps that we drove through and at the first one we did see some lions stand up and walk around a bit. They are just so HUGE and their paws are enormous. They may look cuddly, but I can just imagine one swiping at me with a giant paw and knocking me senseless, then eating me. There were two cheetahs in the cheetah camp. One was pacing back and forth in front of the fence, but then a truck entered the camp and both started running after it, then came to a stop and sat under a tree. Our guess is that it was the truck used to deliver their food and they thought it was feeding time. We saw 4 wild dogs in the wild dog camp, but they didn't do anything. Well, one did lift its head, but otherwise they were sacked out in the shade. Wild dogs and lions both do a lot of hunting at night, so I am guessing their nocturnal tendencies combined with the heat made them so lazy.

After our drive, which also took us through herds of blesbok, springbok, zebra and more, we headed into the rest of the park where we were able to walk around and look at different animals in their enclosures. We were able to enter the lion cub enclosure, which housed about 10 little lions. I couldn't tell how many were in there for sure as most of them were sleeping and all piled on top of each other. Every once in a while one would get up and then flop on top of his/her buddies. We were able to get right down next to them and pet them. They look so soft, but their fur was quite rough. There was one little cub that was wandering around, but again the heat was too much. Later on we saw another group in the enclosure and there were several cubs out playing and interacting with each other and the people.

After petting the lions we spent quite a bit of time watching the meerkats in their enclosure. They were really fun to watch. They live in burrows that are connected by different holes and everywhere you looked you'd see a meerkat either popping out of a hole or ducking into one or digging the dirt to make a new hole. There were three little babies and it took them so long to climb up on top of the burrow to join the others. Sometimes just one would be standing guard while the others were wrestling and tumbling down the side and other times there would be a group of them standing on their hind legs with their little arms kind of quivering in front of them. One time we saw them all come to attention and they seemed to be nervous and then we saw a cat coming across the grass. They all watched that cat very closely! They also followed the sound of an airplane as it flew overhead.  Tyson and Jori were giggling at all their silly antics.

Next we went to feed the giraffes. For 30 Rand (about $4) you could buy a bag of food and then climb up on to a platform and feed the giraffes. There were three wandering around, but only one was around when we climbed up. We held feed pellets in our hand and it would grab them off with its lips, or you could hold one between your fingers and it would stick its long tongue out and you could put the food right on its tongue. It was so amazing to be at eye level with a giraffe! We felt the horns on top of its head and scratched it on its forehead. My dad put a piece of food on top of his head and the giraffe took it off with its lips. Tyson and Jori did not want to come down and were both just hugging the giraffe on its long, long neck. FUN!! There were some ostriches hanging out down below waiting to eat the feed that didn't make it into the giraffe's mouth.

After our bag of food was gone and the kids had untangled themselves from the giraffe, we headed back to the meerkats. We watched them again for a while and also watched a baby lion play with a stick. Then it was time to go.

We finished our fun day by having dinner at Baobab. We introduced Papa to the wonders of the garlic cheese roll and just enjoyed a nice meal together. The kids were both standing next to our table dancing to the African beat playing over the intercom. We ate quite early, so they weren't disturbing too many people.

Stay tuned for the kids' Lion Park reports. I'll be posting them right after this as this post has gotten quite long. Hopefully we'll be able to post pictures of this adventure and others soon, but it might not be until April when we house sit again...


Hans en Gerrie said...

Dear lovely friends, nice to read your blog. Big hug for everybody.
kind regards Hans and Gerrie

Lia Leenstra said...

I can picture it all - too bad it was so hot when you went - and oohh Baobob!! YUM! Just wanted to let you know that we think of you so often! I am so horrible at responding and commenting, but am going to try to do more. I have really enjoyed reading your blog these past months - at times it makes me sad that we are not there. Thanks for posting and staying in touch - I read everyone!

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