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

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Magic!!

Part II of my trip to South Africa:

Our safari experience took place in Sabi Sands private reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park. The difference between a private reserve and the park is that there are much fewer people and vehicles going to see the animals and our jeep was able to go off road to follow the tracks of an animal, giving us much more of a potential to see animals.

These first few pics show the view from our suite at the lodge we stayed at. There were impala, Nyala, wart hogs, and baboons right outside our door.

Here are some of the amazing sights during safari, which occurred at 5:30 am and 4:00 pm every day. Everyone talks about the Big Five: elephant, rhinoceros, lion, water buffalo and leopard. We were lucky enough to see all of them our first day, plus others that are kind of rare to see.


Isn't he magnificent?

two out of three brothers

ah, there's the third


Can you find the baboons?

more rhinos

a female leopard

We followed the track of this female leopard into the bush. We were very lucky to see her just after she'd killed a recently born impala. We watched her eat dinner, bones and all.

Here she is taking an after dinner stroll

Guess who?

another rare sight - wild dog

We were lucky enough to see these two cheetah cubs,,,

And their protective mama

Here she is looking out for them

I love these gentle giants

Isn't he cute?

Hubs and I in our safari jeep

these guys sleep 20 hours a day

I'm in love with him!

lion cubs

Mama lion


They were quite hungry!

The whole pride

rest stop on the way home from safari

 When we got back to the lodge we were told that baboons had gotten into our room and we had to go see to the damage. When we arrived at our room, they had surprised us with this candelight dinner, a bubble bath had been drawn and we were served a delicious three course dinner.

 When this guy lifted his head and looked me straight in the eye, I have to admit I freaked a bit. We were 10 feet from him and I thought, Lunch?

Mama and baby

Wart Hog

Leopard cub, approximately one year old

my least favorite animal - the water Buffalo

Now there's a beauty!

I really don't have words to describe what this was like for me. To see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, not in a cage in a zoo. I appreciate zoos. It is the only way some of us will ever see these animals. But there is something about the raw power of nature that got to me in ways it never has before.

Tell next time...


Karen Jones Gowen said...

WOW!! Awesome photos, and trip! What lodge were you staying at?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Whoa, those pictures are simply amazing! And sneaky telling you baboons had damaged your room.
So you're just in an open Jeep, right there with the lions? I would've been nervous as well.
An amazing experience, Karen.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Oh wow you seriously have experienced something that I've always wanted to experience! A safari! I love all these photos - especially the lions and leopards.

Luanne G. Smith said...

Trip of a lifetime!

And, yeah, I went to the zoo last week, no lie, and saw most of those animals in cages. Doesn't compare at all.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Baboons ransacking your room, lol!

I loved looking through all the pictures Karen. What a fabulous experience to have!

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Karen Walker said...

Karen, it was called Exeter River Lodge, and let me tell you, we splurged on that place. Very expensive.
Alex, it was mind blowing to be that close to them
Optimistic, me, too. Those are my favorite pics
LG, yup, I get it.
Sia, it was hilarious about the baboons. Thanks so much

Sharon Lippincott said...

Karen, we stayed at Kruger and had a fabulous experience there. We thought we couldn't ask for more. Now I see the difference. Your splurge was worth it!

The only thing we saw worth noting that you didn't was a mating pair of leopards up in a tree. The male was eating an impala, while denying even scraps to the female. I got it on video: http://ow.ly/pC1CR

But we did not see such an abundance of lions and, well, if I were to go back, I'd go to your place, for sure.

Your pictures are FABULOUS! Thanks for posting. Wish I could see a few hundred more!

Misha Gerrick said...

There is something different to seeing those animals in the wild. I hope it's something we can one day share with our descendants. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen - boy did you have a lovely time - what a great range of animals .. lots and lots of them - you were so lucky!!

Beautiful photos and memories .. just takes me back to some brilliant trips - but not as good as these appear to be ..

So pleased you had that lovely surprise of a private candelit dinner ... what a great treat - no wonder you're blown away by so many sightings and then seeing the bubbling bath - what fun ... when I was in the bush - it was an army shower!! short and sweet with a bucket!!!!!!

I love warthogs - they're my favourite .. just love the way the little things toggle along with their tails in the air ...

Aren't giraffe fabulous ... languid ... then the elephants that you just don't see .. and I saw Cape Hunting Dogs in Botwsana .. gorgeous creatures who were running and hunting ...

Great great post - loved being reminding of my African days and now we can relate even more .. fabulous - cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

You certainly had a trip of a lifetime, loved the pictures most wonderful.


Karen Walker said...

Sharon, I hope I didn't sound like I was putting down Kruger - I'm sure it's wonderful and the fact you saw mating leopards in a tree - wow!. I just liked the idea of fewer people, fewer vehicles and the ability to go off road.
Misha, yes, let's hope.
Hilary, glad it brought some memories back for you.
Yvonne, yes it was - thanks

Liz Blocker said...

Oh my God, the baby elephant. Oh my God.

These pictures are AMAZING. Truly, amazing. What an incredible trip...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Squee!!! I love cats, and those lions are adorable. Seeing the cheetahs would've been the real thrill though. Such a beautiful and yet unusual cat.

I love the surprise dinner and bath - how sweet.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear friend, what a wonderful you and hubby got to take. These photos are magnificent! When Jen and I passed Albuquerque via I-40 on our way to Arizona then Utah, I wanted so much to look you up, but couldn't quite manage it timewise. But you were thought of fondly. So soon after this, off you were to South Africa!! THAT is a once in a lifetime dream trip come true. So happy for you!

Karen Walker said...

Liz, he was pretty cute!
Diane, you are so right about the cheetah
Ann, oh, that would have been so lovely. I'll just have to come to where you are

Michelle Wallace said...

There is a huge difference seeing these magnificent creatures "up close and personal" compared to seeing them in a cage... it doesn't compare...
I love the big cats...
I haven't been to the Kruger National Park yet, because it's way up to the north and I'm in the south on the east coast.
But I'll get there!

Karen Walker said...

Michelle, oh my, you're in Africa. Wow!

Suze said...

Karen, these animals are just incredible. I feel quite awed. And I'm so grateful you included the shots of you and your husband, I clicked on those to see them enlarged. (Miss you!)

I also love the story you included about the baboons that turned out to be a much sweeter ending. Your life, to me, speaks volumes about the goodness of the universe. Knowing everything you've come through to get to these crowning moments. I would say the word is most decidedly magnificent.

Carol Kilgore said...

Karen, thank you so much for sharing your South Africa photos. I loved all of them from both posts. That male lion was regal!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Oh, my, I want to do this trip so bad. Don't you think it would make a great birthday gift? Karen, your photos are fantastic.

Karen Walker said...

Suze, I love you!
Carol, I fell in love with him!
Patricia, I hope you get to go, and yes, a great birthday gift it would be - thanks about the photos

Jennifer Shirk said...

Great pictures! This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience! How awesome for you!

Stephanie Faris said...

I've always wondered what a reserve was...now I know. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. I can definitely see how this would be an amazing, life-changing experience.

Arlee Bird said...

What wonderful photos. They're like something out of a magazine.

Tossing It Out

Unknown said...

These are magazine quality photos, Karen! Just fantastic. Nothing like looking a big cat in the eyes to put you in your place, right??