Ep10 Meerkat Safari
Welcome to episode 10.
For this early Monday morning, we were on the coach just before the break of dawn. We were all told to dress warmly as it would be cold in the early morning air. We were to enjoy an early morning Meerkat Safari. Since many of us were not aware of what a meerkat looked like, we went along to see what all the fuss was about.
In Africa safari, we saw ‘the Big Five’ of buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino. In Africa, there are also the Shy Five Animals of Africa and they are Aardvark, Aardwolf, Bat-eared Fox, Meerkat, and Porcupine. This group is named as sightings of them are few and far between. Four of the shy five are nocturnal [active at night] (all except the meerkat) which makes seeing them that much harder to spot, yet more rewarding.
The Meerkat is the only diurnal or day active member of the shy five. The shy five animals are found in sub-Saharan Africa, generally in sandy desert areas. The Meerkats usually live in gangs of up to 20 members but usually, only about 7-12 members are average. They are led by a dominant female and her mate which can breed up to 3 times per year.
Meerkats are part of the so-called Shy 5 which also includes the bat-eared fox, the aardvark, porcupine, and aardwolf. The meerkat tour lasts between 2-3 hours.
The coach driver took us to a Meerkat sub-Saharan area just before sunrise. Since many of us were barely awake, we were treated and served a hot drink (coffee, tea, or chocolate) and a biscuit to help us wake up. Surprisingly, our beverage and biscuit tasted so delicious standing there in the cold morning, in a vast sub-Saharan land of dirt. In the vast emptiness of the land, we began to slowly wake up to the beautiful sunrise. The sunrise was breathtaking. Breathing in the fresh morning air and admiring the vastness of the barren land, we began to wonder what would happen next.
We created the Meerkat Safari video for you, viewers. We hope you will enjoy the video. Thank you for watching it.
We waited in anticipation. What would be next?
We were each given a lightweight aluminum folding chair to sit while observing the meerkats as they come out of the burrow into the sunshine and then go about their daily routine of foraging and frolicking. These habituated wild animals are never fed or handled by humans.
A Hiking We Will Go …
Then we were informed that we were going on a little hike. We were all told to follow our guide and be as quiet as possible, to not disturb the Meerkat. We were also given instructions that once we arrived at a designated location where our guide would tell us the best place to set up “camp”, we would all open up our folding chairs and form a big half-cylindrical circle. We would be told which direction to sit to watch for the Meerkats. Then we would wait until we could spot the first wild habituated Meerkat. After receiving our full instructions, we were all ready to set-off.
We obediently followed our tour guide on the short hike, each carrying our folding chair. Then we were told to set up camp about 20 mins into our hike. And we formed a big cylindrical circle and sat and quietly waited. We waited and waited. We could not talk loudly, but some of us whispered to each other what we were supposed to look for since we had no idea what a Meerkat looks like. It felt a little silly, but we waited and waited quietly again. We were told there was no guarantee that we would see any of the little creatures, but that there was an extremely high chance. So we believed and trusted our guide.
Here comes the Meerkat
Lo and behold, before long, we saw a little head pop up. Then another head. And before you know it, there were more heads and the entire family would come out of their burrows to welcome the day. It was quite amazing to see the little creatures and at the end of the tour, yes, it was all worth the experience. It was all worth the silly waiting.
We trusted our guide and as much as we felt silly waiting and trying to look for something that we did not know looked like what, we went with the flow. No children under the age of 10 years were allowed as you must sit very quietly in order not to scare the little creates. Children also have a high pitch voice and the Meerkats could sense the sounds.
Let the real story be told
After the satisfaction of being so lucky in witnessing the Meerkats, we were told that our experienced tour guide would go out in search of the meerkats the day before. Upon his return from the field, he would then inform our group of the meeting point and time.
A Happy Bunch
We were thankful and happy with our exciting experience at the Meerkat Safari. We think it was the total experience that made is so surreal. The hot drink/ biscuit, the early morning rise, the sunrise experience, the bitter cold, the short hike, the sub-Saharan desert experience, the unknown of what the creatures looked like, the sheer happiness when we saw the creatures. Yes, we all said that the morning’s Meerkat Safari experience was indeed a worthwhile one. We were happy to have experienced it and thank our guide and his teammates who served us and chatted with us. We were totally invigorated by our Meerkat Safari experience. We were a happy bunch.
Return to the hotel for a good morning’s breakfast
We returned to the hotel to pack our bags and attend a good morning’s breakfast. We were served a good hearty breakfast with freshly baked bread and a sumptuous breakfast spread to prepare us for our day’s adventure.
Goodbye to Oudtshoorn
We said goodbye to Oudtshoorn after delicious morning breakfast. Our next journey would take us to Barrydale and then forward to Cape Town, South Africa.