Travel Photography Scholarship to South Africa (18-25 JAN 2012)

Day 5: Flight Missed

SOUTH AFRICA | Saturday, 3 March 2012 | Views [637]

After a few days of living the life of a professional photographer, I was getting used to it; I was up and ready before 5:00 a.m. We had our breakfast then set out for our last game drive before flying to Cape Town in the evening.

We caught sight of some impalas and various types of birds, such as the Lilac Breasted Roller Bird, one of South Africa’s most colored birds. At one point, I saw everyone stop to examine… a pile of elephant dung! That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for a photo subject but things got more interesting when I took a closer look: there was a dung beetle digging its way into the pile. This may sound like nothing, but I had never seen a live dung beetle before so I lay with my belly on the floor next to Jason and intently watched that little guy form its ball of dung and roll it away towards its burrow for food storage.

A bit further down the road, we stopped to take some macro shots of orb weaver spiders and I was amazed by their size. Time was flying by and we still wanted to visit a nearby village before our 7-hour drive to Johannesburg’s airport. 

On the way back, I realized that so far I had come across 3 animals of South Africa’s Big Fives: I had seen a lion, an elephant and a buffalo – all that was left were the leopard and the rhinoceros. Not bad! Then Guts said that I missed the Small Five! I found out these were the elephant shrew, the lion ant, the red-billed buffalo weaver, the leopard tortoise and the rhino beetle.

We arrived at Shalati Pre-School in the Mnisi community where we were welcomed by a few students and the only teacher there. Shalati provides support to children and prepares them for the transition into primary school. The kids were fun; I took some photos of them and showed them how they looked in the picture, then it wasn’t long before they were posing and making funny faces. After that, I grabbed my notebook and started drawing while they watched then tried their hand at sketches too. As we were making to leave, I gave my pen to a very shy kid and joined the team while the kids were shouting to us “ChupChup, Chup Chup”, which means “everything is alright” in Xhosa, a South African language.

 As we drove towards the airport, we stopped repeatedly to take photos of the beautiful landscapes along the way. It was raining a lot and we had to hurry to catch our flight to Cape Town. I felt we were going to miss it; I think we all did and were cool about it. We finally arrived there only 15 minutes before departure and Jason grabbed our passports for the check-in, while we unloaded the ton of material we were carrying. We went in loaded like pack mules only to find out that we had missed our flight!

Oh well, we spent the night at a guesthouse owned by Guts’ family sipping Amarula and wine, laughing as we recounted the adventures of the day.

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