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Pamela MacNaughtan

Today was the day that I would finally see the last of the Big 5 in Africa, or so I hoped. Ian, our guide to beat all guides spoke a little about the Rhinos in the area while we were driving to the area in which they lived.

I sat in the middle of the first row of the truck with Sarah on one side and James on the other. The roads were quite bumpy and most of the time I was more concerned with staying in my seat and not falling on Sarah or James, instead of looking at the cool rocks and other things that Ian pointed out while he drove.

Our main goal was to locate Gumboots, one of the biggest and oldest Rhinos in Matabos. Ian also told us about a baby Rhino, the twin Rhinos and others. I didn’t really care which Rhino we saw (although the baby Rhino would have been super cute), I just wanted to see one.

As we drove, Ian would stop from time to time to check for fresh tracks in the sand. Once Ian jumped out of the jeep and wandered into the bush, I started to get a wee bit excited. I wanted to see a Rhino more than anything and I kept hoping that he would come back and tell us he had found one. When Ian came back and announced that he had found Gumboots, I was over-the-moon happy.

I climbed out of the jeep and followed the rest of the group. Ian explained (before we left) that we would need to walk in single file, duck when he said duck, back off if he said back off and be quiet at all times.

As we walked through the bush, I weaved around dung and tried to dodge thorny bushes. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was high and shining brightly as we followed Ian deeper into the bush to see Gumboots. When we finally found him, I could hardly believe my eyes.

Gumboots was amongst the trees, eating and unaware of our arrival. At Ian’s instruction, we crouched down and slowly crept closer, and closer and closer. When we stopped, Ian had us crouching in the bushes about 4-5 meters away from Gumboots. It was absolutely incredible. Never in a million years would I have believed that I’d be standing within 4-5 meters of a wild Rhino.

Each of us kept our voices low as Ian spoke about Gumboots and the other Rhinos in the area. I listened to most of what Ian was saying, but not a lot of the info stayed with me as I was more interested in trying to take a photo of myself with Gumboots in the background. I got my shot, but due to where I was standing at the time, there was a lot of branches in the shot as well. Oh well, I stood (crouched) within 4-5 meters of a wild Rhino, took his photo and walked away with all my body parts still intact.

As we left Gumboots, all of us were abuzz about Gumboots and hoping to see more Rhinos as our afternoon continued. Unfortunately, the other Rhinos were in hiding and we didn’t see any more of them. I was a little disappointed, but the fact that we found Gumboots was a huge plus.

Thinking of traveling to Africa?

Traveling in Africa, solo, can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 

 

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