Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Grand Phinda Safari With Nisha JamVwal






The Grand Phinda Safari.....
Sitting in the charter en route South Africa’s special jewel, Phinda, I saw my first African elephant, the first of what was going to be a very special relationship with these imposing animals of the wild. Part of the Getty family, our hosts, Cecilia and Pierre, pointed out my first giraffe who actually came and nuzzled to me, a moment etched in my memory forever, even as I was clambering onto the land rover with the help of Hendrick, our ranger, guide and Bush philosopher.


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Layered with woolies and hat, we set off to the Getty lodge, and en route saw the Cape Buffalo, Zebra, Rhino’s and, just as we were reaching our magnificent lodge at the banks of the water hole, wonder of wonders, a Cheetah drinking from that very water hole, a rare unusual ‘sighting’.





The most unforgettable moments of my entire trip amidst many magical ‘sightings’ in the next few days, that will stay with me forever, is when we came across the majestic, magnificent, dynamic male lion on a hunt for a Nayala, and after stalking him in our rover, we saw him devour the animal. This black maned magnificent arresting African Lion was brought tears to my city weary eyes, like when I had seen ‘Starry Night’ by Van Gogh at D’Orsay for the first time. 


The Hippo was still missing from the ‘big five’, until we saw not only several hippo’s but also some whales from a helicopter
 ride of this Maputaland in KwaZulu-Natal region from a helicopter ride that we had taken to enjoy a sundowner by the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park – a World Heritage and fly close across and above the coast of Sodwana beach that is said to rival the Great Barrier Reef in Australia,



And I have to tell you that I shall never will I forget the mix of apprehension and exhilaration when, sitting with friends Sid Yog, Rohan , Pierre and Cesily, an African bull elephant in ‘mast’ (yes it’s the same word in Africa as well!) 
who had delighted us earlier by peacefully grazing at the water hole started making toward the lodge, and then without any warning came charging toward us. 

The sight of an 11 foot tall ten ton elephant at full charge kicking clouds of dust has to be the greatest adrenalin rush– especially when you 


are sitting on an unprotected open porch Hendrick had just been explaining how young male elephants can be unpredictable when they go through ‘mast’ - with aggressive and destructive behavior. 

Like most things alarming I had assumed that this only happens to others, even while the young bull was tearing down branches from trees in front of one of the cottages. Just in the nick of time, Hendrick and one of the big built staff of Phinda came and  shouted, clapped and whistled to daunt the elephant. I was left in one piece to come back to my beloved land.



And you can imagine, everything was picturesque, grandiose even humbling in its proximity to nature. But then nature is magnificent and so many countries are breathtaking in their appeal. 


What made SA exceptional, extraordinary and haunting was its people, the way everyone says ‘my pleasure’ to every exclamation of delight, that they are soft, kind, generous.
The result of this trip is that Spain and Javier will have to wait, I just must go back at the earliest to South Africa, I am actually missing a country so much as if it were my own.



Nisha JamVwal nishajamvwal@gmail.com

Tweet Nisha @nishjamvwal



Pictures Nisha JamVwal  & R Sikri

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