Africa Quiz #2

We had so much fun with the last quiz ( and I believe I am using the papal “we” here), I figured we’d do it again.

1. What is the difference between an antelope and a deer?
2. Which creature built this structure? Hint: the one with the hat is NOT the correct answer!
3. This animal has two popular names. Do you know what they are?
4. What creature built THIS structure? image
5. How did this impala get into the tree?
6. What do you think THIS is?

Good luck!
Answers when we get to Cape Town.

Answers to Africa Quiz #1

We are now out of the bush, and into the falls. Victoria Falls, that is. They are quite magnificent, as you can see.


But enough about us.  I know what you really want is the answers to that first quiz!

1. Those were indeed elephant tracks.  Here’s one of the big guys in action.


As you might imagine they do quite a job on the trees. You can easily tell when a herd has been hanging in an area.

2. When a giraffe eats its leaves, the tree reacts to being over browsed by producing tannins, which makes its leaves bitter. Believe it or not, the tree communicates with neighboring trees, warning them of the danger, so they too produce tannins.  How do they communicate? Courtesy of a renewable resource, wind power.
The giraffe is no dummy. It just moseys downwind to the trees that are out of range of the early warning system. Isn’t that amazing?!


3. Yep, that is indeed a hippo under the water. Check out the dental work on this guy.


Want a closer look?  Boyd, our guide used a hippo skull to demonstrate how this behemoth protects itself.


4. I believe the warthog had a starring role in The Lion King. They definitely were the stars In Karongwe River Lodge, wandering freely through the camp.


5. Setepi, our guide at Karongwe explained that elephant dung has many uses. For example, you can burn it and inhale the smoke to stop nosebleeds.
AND if you are lost out in the savannah, without food, you can make yourself a dung sandwich (minus the bread,of course). Don’t believe me? Setepi demonstrated. No, he didn’t spit it out. I watched.

6. What he DID spit out was antelope dung. It is true that antelope dung spitting is a popular game—whoever spits the furthest wins. I’m not certain, but I have a hunch only boys engage in that sport. I’ll spare you the photo of antelope dung. It looks like little black pellets.

7. Although hippos kill more humans than rhinos, it is mainly because there are far more of them. The most dangerous animal? It’s the one in a bad mood, standing a few feet in front of you!

At one of our camps, our tent’s deck was literally a couple of feet from the edge of the river. I was sitting on our deck reading, when I heard a splash and saw the big butt of a hippo entering the water about 15 feet away from me. I can’t believe I had a book in my hand instead of my camera!

Congratulations to all who tried. If you didn’t get them all correct, well, not to worry. More quizzes in the coming days, as time and Internet access permit.

Geography Lesson


Geography was never a favorite subject of mine.  Memorizing capitals and products was excruciatingly mind numbing.  At the time, knowing where to plop countries on a mimeographed map didn’t appear to be knowledge I’d ever find useful.  Back when I considered a one hour trip to Boston a thrilling excursion, it was hard to imagine that I would ever be lucky enough to set foot any place outside of the continental USA.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t disappointed when Sister Pauline explained that there was no point in studying the geography of Africa, because everything was changing.  How sad that statement is one of the few things I remember from my geography studies!

Fast forward a half a century.  I will soon be filling that gaping hole in my knowledge of the world with a trip to that continent I didn’t have to learn about in elementary school.  Well, only the southern part of Africa.  But you gotta start somewhere.

This will be the first trip that Mike and I take with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT).   Although we have had wonderful experiences with Road Scholar, and RS has a similar trip, we decided to go with OAT for the following reasons:

  • If you pay the full amount in cash a year in advance, you get a 10% discount (and I SO love a bargain)!
  • If you take another trip with them within the next 12 months, you get a 5% credit.
  • They have an amazing website, with very informative reviews and an incredibly helpful forum in which travelers share information and helpful hints.
  • They offer options:  you can do only the trip, or you can add pre and/or post trip excursions.
  • There is a maximum of 16 participants

Mike and I figured if we were going to shell out the money for airfare,  and subject our bodies to a total of 30 hours (round trip) in the air, we might as well stay a while, so we are doing the pre and then visiting Cape Town on our own.  Who knows if we will ever be able to get back to this part of the globe?

We start in Johannesburg,  then fly to Karongwe Game Reserve for the pre-trip.  Four days later, we return to  Johannesburg for the main trip, going first to two camps in Botswana, then one in Zambia, one in Zimbabwe, ending with a few days in Victoria Falls, before we fly back to  Johannesburg.   At that point, Mike and I will leave the tour and fly to Cape Town for a few days on our own, before returning to Johannesburg for a flight home.  All told, we will be gone for 26 days.

Oat created this very helpful map,  with the trip extensions in the insert.


africa trip

While on safari, we will be staying in tents in the national parks.  WiFi will therefore be limited to the few times we are in cities.  (So, sisters and cousins, when you don’t see a post, it will not be because I have met with foul play…it will just mean I am still off the grid).

We will be flying in very small planes, which limits both the weight and the type of luggage allowed.  One duffel bag each, without an internal frame, weighing no more than 44 pounds, plus one carry on. Here’s a visual of my duffel bag,  supplied by OAT, and my new (larger) back pack.   Previous travelers had experienced problems with the duffel splitting open (I told you the forum was helpful), but fortunately that appears to be old news.  Nevertheless, I’m packing some duct tape…just in case.luggage

Years of business travel trained me to travel light, but we will be visiting a school, so once I assemble the minimum amount of clothing and supplies needed, I’ll be cramming books, pencils, crayons and other odds and ends into the remaining space up to the weight limit.

Next post will be about pre-trip readings.



Day Trippin – Sunfish Pond

Our son Greg recently spent 10 days on the Appalachian Trail, hiking through Virginia. Yesterday was a beautiful day, so the three of us decided to wander along a small portion of the trail where it crosses from Pennsylvania into New Jersey.  After the Delaware Water Gap, the Appalachian Trail passes through Worthington State Forest, and intersects with those trails near Sunfish Pond.   

Appalachian Trail Marker
White Appalachian Trail Marker on tree

Greg and I had read Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk In the Woods”., which describes his Appalachian Trail Endeavors.  Unlike Bill (and Greg on his solo trip across Virginia),  we did not  experience the silence of the forest.  Instead, Bollywood music from a parking lot party accompanied us part of the way, and when that sound faded, it was replaced by a hiking family’s boom box playing Asian music.  Sometimes you get a multicultural experience when you least expect it.

We're off. only 1,500 feet up, and 2.5 miles to go!
We’re off.  Only 1,500 feet up, and 2.5 miles to Sunfish Pond!

It was the perfect day.   Not too hot — not too cold, with only one small stream to cross and just a few feet of muddy trail on either side.  

It took about an hour to get to Sunfish Pond.  At first we were admiring the view of the lake while we watched the huge blue dragonflies whipping through the air, doing their best to keep the mosquito population under control.  

Darn dragonfly was moving too fast --but at least the lake is pretty
Darn dragonfly was moving too fast –but at least the lake is pretty
These guys really move--it was hard to get a clear shot.
Finally one stopped for a second so I quickly (and unsteadily) shot.

Then we noticed what initially looked like bumps on a log.  These guys were  basking in the sun, right by the shore.


It took a while for us to realize we were being watched by lots of eyeballs.  Once we started looking though, we saw them everywhere!


The hike down was actually trickier than the way up, because loose stones can cause you to lose your footing. One advantage was it forced you to go more slowly and look more carefully.  I hadn’t noticed these tiny mushrooms on the way up.

P1000040I am in awe of the through hikers that tackle the trail — including, and especially, my son.  After yesterday’s five miles, Mike and I’d had  quite enough, and were glad we would be returning to a full refrigerator, indoor plumbing, screens on windows and comfy beds!

“Something tells me it’s all happening at the zoo”. Simon and Garfunkel

Memphis was having a heat wave while we were there,but that didn’t stop us from visiting their fantastic zoo.  We decided to get there when it opened and stay until the heat did us in.

Our favorite spot was the big cat exhibit.

We started and ended our visit there. Can you see why?

The African penguins were cute, but we were spoiled by the Antarctic trip, seeing the chinstraps, gentoo and adelie penguins in their natural habitat.

Memphis is rightfully famous for its giant pandas.

I always regretted not riding a camel when we were in Egypt, so when this opportunity came a knockin’, I jumped aboard.

Okay, so maybe this ride was intended for kids, but hey, I’m down with having a second childhood!

I’ve had mornings when I felt like this elephant looks.  In fact, I’ve had mornings when I’ve LOOKED like this elephant looks, especially around the eyes…

Whenever you start feeling that your job is a little too stressful, just think, at least you don’t have THIS guy’s job.

Although I have lots more animal shots, I’m going to end this post before wordpress crashes on me. Remote blogging on the iPad is a bit of a challenge, as I’m sure my fellow bloggers will attest. (any tips or hints would be most appreciated!)

One parting image from the zoo parking lot. Remember those Nashville brides? I think one of them may have followed us here.