For the last two days of the trip the group left Cape Town, and traveled to the Western Cape Province where the Aquila Private Game Reserve is located. After we unpacked our bags into our rooms, which had outdoor showers, we packed into a safari jeep and went out into the bush. Even though our first outing in the bush was a gloomy one with clouds and fog covering the landscape, we were still able to see a multitude of animals and even drive right up next to them. During our first outing into the bush I saw cape buffalo, springbok, zebra, rhino, hippo, ostrich, oryx, eland, lion, and blue and black wildebeest. The springbok and rhinos were surprisingly friendly, and came right up to the jeep in their curiosity. Probably one of the most intense moments while in the bush on the first night was when we ventured into the 900 acre lion pen. The landscape was so foggy and muggy that visibility was very low, and even the guide told us he was a little nervous because the lions may use the covering to their advantage. As we rode through the bush there was a shadow on top of a nearby mountain that astounded everyone. This shadow was soon followed by at least three others all forming a silhouette through the mist which were gazing down upon us. These silhouettes were soon identified as lions when they ventured closer to the edge of the mountain as a result of their growing curiosity. When a couple of them decided to start wondering down the mountain for a closer look, our guide decided it was time to turn the jeep around incase a quick getaway was needed. As our first outing in the bush ended I was excited about what I had already seen, but was looking forward to a less foggy and muggy day tomorrow so I could view our whole surroundings in their entirety.
On the second day we woke up around 6:15 in the morning and got read for our second and last outing at 7:00. As i had hoped, the morning was clear and visibility was tremendous. Since there were still wild animals which were hiding in the mist the day before, I was looking forward to being able to see them that morning. The second outing was nothing short of amazing. Not only were we able to see all the animals from the day before, but we also saw giraffe, African elephant, crocodile, leopards, cheetahs, and more lions. Among the animals that were there but we did not have the pleasure of seeing were the Cape porcupine and olive baboon. While visiting the giraffe on our second outing in the bush, the guide informed us that its parents tried to climb a mountain but failed, thus falling down the mountain and snapping their necks. He also told us about some of the extreme safety measures they use to ensure no poachers make it onto the reserve throughout the night, such as periodic surveillance drive throughs. While at the game reserve I learned that five of the animals present were categorized as the big 5 because they are considered the most dangerous animals in Africa. These animals are the african elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, and cape buffalo. I was surprised to see that many of the animals, like the zebra, springbok and rhino, seemed to get along well with each other.
As our Second outing in the bush ended and our journey back to the United States began, part of me was ready to get back home, but another part of me wanted to stay in South Africa just a little bit longer because of how much fun I was having. From the first day to the last I had a blast, and experienced so many things I will never forget. Not only did I enjoy the sites and activities, but I also enjoyed the lectures with Stewart Hindrey of the University of Cape Town, as well as the other speakers, as we learned about business leadership and entrepreneurship. I have definitely come back to America with more knowledge gained. I owe a big thank you to both Dr. Turner and Mike for organizing such a grand adventure which I know took an extraordinary amount of planning. They created a trip to South Africa full of excitement and wonderment. One day I hope to be able to visit South Africa again so I may broaden my experiences even more.