June 18th, 2013

On Tuesday, we began our day with a very early morning elephant back safari. At sunrise, we loaded two buses for the short trip to one of Zimbabwe’s many national parks, where we visited Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust. They take in and rehabilitate injured and orphaned elephant. Some get re-introduced to the wild, but for those who are too familiar with humans or cannot be re-introduced, they became educational resources. The elephant are trained to receive and respond to commands and can be fitted with a special saddle to be ridden. School children are brought into the park weekly to teach them about the beauty and power of these amazing animals, in addition to the tourists who visit the center. The park area is massive, big enough to accommodate a herd of elephant, so not every animal gets the training necessary to be ridden – only those that demonstrate the aptitude and ease with humans that their training provides.

We each took our turns riding the elephant through a small portion of the park. We saw kudu, puku, warthog, baboon, and of course…elephant! For those who stayed in the lodge waiting for their turn, they got to meet Sylvester. Sylvester is a cheetah that was rescued 4 or 5 years ago following a lion attack on his mother and siblings. Since Sylvester was rescued only hours after his birth, his first sight was of a human, making him very easy to domesticate. I have photos of everyone petting Sylvester, which I will post on FaceBook.

We then went to the market place where everyone was able to buy various crafts, bowls, jewelry, spears, and walking canes with knives in the handle – typical market stuff. This place is bargain central! Never take the first offer and battle your way to an agreeable price. While it can be overwhelming at first, most of us settled into the routine quite nicely – coming away with some terrific bargains.

After the market, we had a quick lunch, including the adventurous bunch who ate crocodile burgers and boarded the bus for our journey to Botswana. Luckily, our bags finally cleared customs, at a much smaller price than originally quoted, and we continued on to the border. After a thankfully uneventful crossing, we quickly made our way to what would be our home for the next 3 nights – Chobe Game Reserve and John Chase Safaris.

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