Coming into our last day in South Africa, we woke up early and loaded up the van by 7:15 AM with our bags packed up. We ventured off on a two hour drive to Pilanesberg National Park. When we arrived, we loaded up on a safari truck and went on a three hour safari through the park! We were very lucky to see most of the animals they had in the park and got some great close-up pictures. We were able to see impalas, kudu, wildebeest, zebras, rhinos, warthogs, nyalas, giraffes, an elephant, and a few baboons as well. A memorable experience none of us will forget is running into a “traffic jam” with the oldest and most aggressive elephant in the park (55 years old). Don’t worry, we were very cautious and kept our distance from him.
We not only got to see the animals, but we also learned some interesting facts about a few of them. For example, we learned how to tell the difference between a female and male giraffe; males’ horns have more fur, are darker in color, and are typically found on their own. A fun fact we learned about zebras is that they like to stay in herds with wildebeest, because the wildebeest are not as intelligent and serve as a protection for the zebras against predators. We also found out that warthogs are efficient grazers. They are known for their short neck; therefore, when they have their head down while they are grazing their neck gets tired. When this happens, they will actually kneel down to eat. We learned so much during the safari and it will be an outstanding memory in all of our minds forever.
We headed back to the hotel to drop off Mike MacNeil, our fearless trip leader who generously connected us with our South African experience. We would like to thank Mike for all that he has done for us in regards to planning and helping us around the beautiful country of South Africa. We also dropped off Amy Abrams at the hotel (graduate student). This is a fun surprise for all of us as she will be investigating a potential job opportunity. We couldn’t be more happy and excited for her! Good luck, Amy!
We proceeded to the airport where we all made it through just fine to the gates. Our plane will depart at 11:55 PM tonight and we will be connecting in Amsterdam 11 hours later. We will then fly to Minneapolis and to Sioux Falls and should be back in Brookings late Sunday night.
We all had such an amazing and life changing experience and we couldn’t be more grateful for our professors who willingly took us abroad. Thank you so much Dr. Walker and Prof. Gonda! We appreciate all of your guidance and knowledge throughout the whole trip. To the parents and friends who have been following our blog, thank you for allowing us to be a part of such a trip and we also appreciate all of your support and love!
We are all looking forward to the welcoming snow and cold of the Midwest. ;) Spring break 2019 will be one for the books.
Rhino, a very lucky find so close to the road!
An elephant traffic jam!!
The same elephant off the road.