The Lion Yawns Today

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle, the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Hugo Peretti, George David Weiss, Linda Solomon & Luigi Creatore
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Yawn! It’s a hard life being a lion in the jungle…
During one of our many ‘kill some time while we hang around and enjoy life’-discussions, we started debating why so many tourists (especially at Aquila Game Reserve) was talking about wild animals in the jungle. In the jungle…?! Excuse me, you will find a lot of different landscapes in South Africa. But the country (and the entire continent we presume) offers very little jungle. Savannah on the other hand. And the Karoo. If you want jungle – you should go to Amazonas instead. But where does this misunderstanding about the jungle come from…?
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You will definitely need some help to get into the safari vehicles at Aquila Game Reserve. They have some pretty high steps. But the ride was not too bumpy. Quite comfortable actually.
Warren came up with a brilliant theory. We should probably blame the people who wrote ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. Because they combined the words jungle and lions. And Heureka! The jungle must be in Africa…
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Enjoying a sundowner champagne in the middle of a very nice game drive.
I guess you can hear it in your head now. All you people who have seen (and cried to) the Lion King. Me being one of the extreme few who hasn’t. But I have heard the song.

Ee-e-e-um-um-a-weh
Ee-e-e-um-um-a-weh
Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh…
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Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! And welcome to my game reserve!

Can you hear it? Yep, it is also the same song that our cute waitor Colin sang as entertainment during our lovely braai dinner at Gubas de Hoek. He also sang ‘You raise me up’ (obviously I cannot flee from that song) and the hymn Nkosi Sikelel‘, which is part of the South African national anthem.

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Entertainment tonight: Colin from Zimbabwe.

Anyway, this blog post was neither supposed to be about hymns nor jungle. It was supposed to be about the wild (and not so wild) animals we met during our trip. If you want to read more about our game drive, you can check out Grybetrotters blogpost from Aquila Game Reserve (in Norwegian). If photos of animals and facts about wheelchair access is enough for you – stick to this blog post for now.

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Selfie with the elephants. La vita e bella!
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Elephant smooching…
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His Majesty…
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Our domestic elephant.

We met wild (and not so wild) animals in the following places:

1. Cheetah Outreach
The Cheetah Outreach is situated in Somerset West, and was accessible for wheelchairs with ramps. Small thresholds can be an obstacle for power chairs, but I guess it should work. You need to wheel yourself on grass and gravel. If I remember correctly they also had accessible toilets and disabled parking at the entrance. A close encounter with the cheetahs can be arranged also for wheelchair users. At least the ones who aren’t afraid of being eaten…

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Hey, who are you looking at? We don’t like your wheels!

2. Aquila Game Reserve
The Aquila Game Reserve is accessible for wheelchair users, but has a lot of uneven surfaces (especially to get to the disabled friendly chalet), so wheeling yourself can be quite hard.

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The welcome committe at Aquila.

The luxury family chalet is a good alternative to the disabled friendly one (which is situated close to the septic tank), but it does not have a hand held shower. But there are no steps at the entrance. There is one double bed downstairs and one on the loft (a long flight of stairs). You will also need help to manage the stairs to get into the safari vehicle. From what we could see, you could not bring your wheelchair onto any of the vehicles. The main areas are all accessible with level access, ramps and disabled friendly toilets.

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How DID the zebra get his stripes…? Hmm.
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Impalas? After 4 game drives in total, my antilope knowledge is still not top notch…
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A friendly wild beast (wildebeest)
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Let’s just take a nap shall we? Here is a nice dung pillow for you…
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The hippo was not very interested in posing for the papparazzis.
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More antilopes…
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Hippos and elephants come in many forms and colours in South Africa…
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The slightly moody buffalo was very interested in joining us, when we returned to the camp area. The driver had to run to close the gate. And the buffalo was so angry when he was not allowed in, that he pounded his head against the gate during the entire night, moaning and groaning…

3. White Shark Ecoventures
The White Shark Ecoventures offers boat trips (bumpy ride) and encounters with the white shark through diving in a cage. Diving certificate is not needed (you only hold your breath) and they will cater for you if you are in a wheelchair. They allow you to bring the chair onto the boat, but both you and the chair needs to be carried onboard. However – there is not space for several wheelies on the boat and you should bring a helper. If you want to do the cage dive, you should also be rather mobile (and brave).

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This is the shark I met during my holiday. I wonder if this one has used botox…?

4. Skeiding Guest Farm
Skeiding Guest Farm is a regular working farm with ostriches and sheep, who also caters for guests (accomodation, breakfast and dinner). Two of the rooms in the main building are accessible (we used the ramp that was placed in the bathroom in the entrance instead) as well as the dining room and the pool. Nice accessible bathrooms. The rest of the rooms has 2-3 steps to get in.  If you want to do the guided tour on the farm, they back the pickup onto the front porch so that you can either move your chair onto the back of the pickup or you can sit on collapsible seats (to be preferred). The ostrich dinner is highly recommended!

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Sheep are ‘allright’ animals.
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Blue (the sheep dog) is doing what he loves the most – chasing sheep, to make them run in the right direction. The ostrich got carried away as well…
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This section was called the nursery. The bars are closer together, to prevent the bigger sheep from stealing the lamb’s food.
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Hey, do you think you can come here and sit on MY couch? I am the king of this castle. You can sit on the other one…

5. Monkeyland
The Monkeyland park is only partially accessible for wheelchair users.

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What’s up Pricilla? Oh Elvis, don’t you see? I am just posing for you my darling!

There is a step to enter the ‘wild forrest’ (the monkeys are not kept in cages) and along the guided route you will encounter uneven surfaces, roots, mud (if it has been raining in advance) and some steps. However in the first 50-60 % of the park, it is possible to walk around most of the obstacles. In the middle of the route, there is a suspension bridge with 5-6 steps to enter (and a steep hill on the other side).

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In Monkeyland you might encounter some roots and steps along the guided route.
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Suspension bridge selfie with the very helpful guide.

This section of the park is only for manual wheelchairs that can be pushed through ‘hard terrain’ – if not, you will have to return halfways. Still you get to see most of the animals in the first section. Accessible toilets are available.

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Who, me…!? I didn’t steal the food.
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It was the gibbon monkey who did it!
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Yeah, I am just hanging around you know. Laxing…
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Oh God, I am sooooo bored…
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Hmmpff! What are you doing in MY forrest?
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Hey, Mr. Nelson! Is this where you have been hiding all these years?
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Jo is trying to find out how the camera works, while Gry is trying to figure out whether she is happy to see Mr. Nelson or not.
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The good thing about turtles is that they move so slowly, that they are easy to take a picture of.

We also spotted wild animals in the Cape of Good Hope national park. We got so see the very rarely spotted bontebok and Ingrid and Olivier got to see the mountain zebra. Along the roads through the Cape you can encounter baboons. Make sure you keep your windows closed and the doors locked. They will steal and bite. And scratch their buts.

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The rare bontebok spotted in Cape of Good Hope.
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Hmm, what should I do today?
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Oh yeah, I’ll scratch my but a bit. Do you mind…?

We also saw a lot of birds on our trip. But there was unfortunately not room for them in this blogpost. Perhaps they will have their own?

2013-12-31 15.54.08Until then you can ponder about how the zebra got his stripes and other mysteries from the animal kingdom…

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