Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Musings: South Africa, part III

The last leg of our trip we traveled to Zambia. There you will find Victoria Falls, sitting on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The historic Victoria Falls Bridge

While researching what to do on this trip I found two experiences I wanted to encounter. One was riding an African elephant, the other was walking with lions. After the safari experience, I had changed my mind about these things because seeing the animals in their natural habitat made me feel it was wrong to do touristy things with them. However, when we got there, we found that both of these organizations are about conservation, and the animals we rode and walked with would have died without these folks taking them in and caring for them. The lions will be released back into the wild when they reach a certain age.

The platform to get on the elephant

Me, hubby,  our guide, and our hungry escort

The elephants really are quite hungry

 We stayed at a lodge that is quite near the Falls. These are some views of the grounds. Giraffes, zebras, and baboons just wandered about at will.

A beautiful heron
Do you see the Zebras in the background - they are not statues!!

You certainly don't see this sign every day. It was about 10 feet from our room

And this is where the crocs live - again, about 10 feet from our room. We never saw them.

 Our next adventure was a walk with lions. I had wanted to do this before we left for the trip, but when we got there and orientation began, I changed my mind.They were telling us what to do, what not to do, what to do if the lions did such and such and I thought, oh my God, this animal could kill me. One of the guides saw what was happening and promised to take care of me and keep me safe. These lions are about eight months old.

my hat becomes an issue

One of the things they told us when we went to pet the animal is if it turns around to look at you, stop and back off. Well, of course, I was the only one the lion turned around to look at. After two attempts, the guide said to remove my hat. It was white and attracted the lion's attention.

The guide who kept me safe

 I was totally enraptured with African sunsets. I kept taking pics every few minutes because it changed so spectacularly. Here are only a few.

 Here we are on a cruise of the Zambezi River on the African Queen (not the one from the movie).

You can see the spray from Victoria Falls in the distance

Our lodge was near the Royal Livingston Hotel, named for the famed explorer. This is their patio, overlooking the Zambezi. This was our last night in Africa and we chose to have dinner at this elegant hotel, which turned out to be less expensive than the buffet at our lodge.

This guy stole our peanuts right in front of us

Do you see the elephant swimming? We watched this from the patio

Lobby of Royal Livingston Hotel

Our last supper in Africa

Talk about room with a view - this was shot from our room

I'll leave you with this sunset, which is a perfect ending to my summary of a most magical trip.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Incredible room with a view! Although I would've been leery with the crocodiles so close.
Glad you didn't pass up the chance to walk with the lions. You would've regretted it.

Jack said...

It is so pretty there! And Victoria Falls is amazing!
Riding an elephant would be so much fun, but walking with lions sounds even better! It looks like you had a wonderful time!

Jessica Bell said...

Oh my goodness, Karen! You touched a lion! I am in awe. This trip looks spectacular.

Karen Walker said...

Alex, believe me, I was leery as well. Practically ran from the lobby to our room, LOL.
Jack, yup yup yup
Jess, yes, I did and it was awesome.

Julie Flanders said...

Oh my gosh, what an amazing experience!! I just loved your pics with the elephants and the lions, how awesome. I think I would have been nervous with the lions too but how great that you were able to go ahead and do it. Interesting that the lion was attracted to your hat! I would have freaked out a little with that.
The sunsets are absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing your photos, I loved all of them. So glad you had such a great trip!

Karen Walker said...

Thanks so much Julie. I was freaked out about the hat!!!

Well, folks, hubby is off today and we're going to hike in Santa Fe and hopefully see Fall colors. I'll be back later today and catch up with the rest of you.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow, wow, WOW!!! I would love to do this one day! Still working on talking my hubby into it! :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

These pictures are so amazing! I love, love the pictures with the lions. I was surprised and gratified when I was in Kenya to find out all the conservation efforts they were working on--very nice to hear that's going on in SA too.

I'm so glad you had such an amazing time--love seeing the smile on your face! Hope you're feeling well. :)

Arlee Bird said...

I've always been a fan of waterfalls and will go a ways to see one when I can. Victoria are some of the most famous.

Not sure about walking with the lions though.

Tossing It Out

L.G. Smith said...

Oh, Karen, what a trip!! I am way jealous. No, not jealous, very, very happy you got to do this. I'm inspired to save up to go to Kenya one of these days. Fabulous!

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow Karen! truly astounding!! So glad you got to experience all that. A trip of a lifetime! I did a tiger safari in India but we couldn't walk with the tigers. And I rode an elephant in Thailand--that was very cool!
I so want to visit Africa now!!

Tracy Moore said...

Oh Karen...these photos are breathtaking. I can't imagine how amazing this experience had to have been for the two of you. So glad that you went!

Karen Walker said...

Jemi, hope you succeed.
Elizabeth, thanks - my health is up and down right now - thanks for asking
Arlee, I love waterfalls, too. Have you seen Multnomah Falls in Oregon?
L.G. Hope you get to go
Pk, there aren't any tigers in Africa, so that's one we missed!
Tracy, thank you, dear friend

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dr. Livingston, I presume...

I couldn't resist that. A beautiful trip and oh so many memories you've created. I've always wanted to ride an elephant and they've been a means of transportation for thousands of years. But, if I had to choose between that and the interaction with the big cats? The cats would win out every time. :-) I've never been that close to a lion but I have with wolves and mountain lions. Phenomenal animals. They take your breath away especially when they allow you to touch. What a gift.

I've dealt with a lot of dangerous animals and I have the utmost respect for what they are and what they can do. I always approach with caution and respect. I believe they sense the curiosity and acceptance as well as your respect. There are some I would never approach but I do love to observe them. I'm glad you were able to touch and observe!

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen - very evocative memories for me .. loved seeing all your photos - and you both look so happy and full of enjoying yourselves.

I've only seen Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side, and back in the 70s we could only walk half way across - as the war was on. You've been so lucky to experience walking with the elephants and the lions - that must have been so special .. and something you'll treasure for many a year.

Gorgeous grounds - zebras always amuse me .. while the bird life is just fantastic to look at and research ... that cruise is magical .. while the sunsets leave us dreaming ..

Great photos and here's to lots of memories of your time in Africa ... I am very jealous! Cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

Karen what an awesome journey you had. The pictures reflect that.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Oh my gosh you got to pet a lion. You realize how few people on earth can say that!? Wow.

Arlee Bird said...

I have not traveled too much in Oregon and have not seen Multnomah Falls. I'd love to do some extensive travel in that state someday.

Tossing It Out

Suze said...

Karen, this was just extraordinary--and I feel it so much more deeply having had the blessed opportunity to have met you and talked with you and *then* to see your lovely face amidst these animals. You are so brave with the lions! I imagine you choosing that white hat in the morning with no idea of the repercussions!

I wonder at the sound of the falls and the sense on your skin being so near to the zebras, just their presence. I'm sitting here shaking my head, what a truly wonderful experience. And I am so happy you've taken the time to upload these images to share them with us.

Thank you! Much love.

Mary Clark said...

Wow, I need to move this trip up on my list! Very cool.