Dutch safari

We had heard about the deer rut in the Hoge Veluwe National Park, so we decided to check it out yesterday. Waiting for the gate to the park to open, it hit me: this is a safari! We drove our car slowly through the park, full of anticipation. The map indicates a few hotspots for deer, which were already filling up. There must have been a hundred other people in the park, setting up their tripods, waiting for the deer to arrive where they should be according to the map.

From where we stood, I could see a small group of deer resting on a grassy field. There was a strong wind blowing from behind us. I was worried that the deer would smell all these people waiting for them and wouldn’t come out. But, a little while later, Hermen came running, saying that he had spotted a deer a hundred meters down the road.

It was amazing! It seemed like the worst (or best) part of the rut was already over. The male deer had already collected their groups of females and were not that interested in fighting each other – at least not while we were there.

Such proud animals, with their heads held high! And such antlers must weigh quite something! Back in our original spot, the group of deer that were resting had also woken up and came close to the road. Great, these animals that follow the maps! We’re very happy to have had this chance to go on safari in the Netherlands.

Malachite kingfisher

The malachite kingfisher is one of the most beautifully colored kingfishers, with its creamy orange belly and dark blue back. If you are lucky, it will even show you its bright blue crest!
Photo taken in Dinokeng Game Reserve.

Portrait of a giraffe

A black and white portrait of a giraffe that was checking us out. Giraffes are quite curious animals. If they see something strange – like a car, but I’ve also seen them do this with lions – they will watch it intently before ambling away.
Photo taken in Dinokeng Game Reserve

Pearl-spotted owlet

Yesterday we found not one but two of these lovely little owls in Dinokeng Game Reserve near Pretoria, South Africa. They hunt during the day from a perch, like this dead tree. A very special thing is that they have eyes in the back of their head, or at least spots that look like eyes as well!

Faith in the water

“I see a stream with slow moving sections and patches of turbulence. I can sense it is drawn towards something bigger than itself – the lake sitting miles from its origin. I notice the water doesn’t question where it’s going – it just keeps moving.

“I look at the rocks under the strong current and observe that they are still and solid. They remain secure enough not to lose their grounded and nurturing attachment to the earth while being incessantly thrust upon. I suspect they trust in their purpose to slow down the speed of the water.

“Occasionally, I watch a leaf fall from its source. It lands in the stream and begins its way to the chaotic water. I ask myself if the leaf was clumsy and lost its true nature or if it was forced there by the winds because it was too stubborn to let go. No matter. It doesn’t fight the inevitable or swim like mad to return where it came from. The leaf surrenders to the short lived patterns of being spun around, dunked, and flipped over, knowing she will make her way to a new stretch of calm water.

“I take a deep breath by this stream and tell myself that it’s time for more faith when my waters are turbulent, for more trust, and a stronger sense that I am moving where I need to go – a place I can’t see yet, but know is there.”

– Carol Cooley

(Photo taken in Wilderness, South Africa)

Lion with cubs

From the archives:
We went to Madikwe Game Reserve for the first time in 2018, and were blown away by the hospitality and the brilliant sightings we had. This was one of the highlights of our trip: a pride of lions, I believe it was two females and about four cubs, walking around in the early morning light. A breath taking experience!