Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #139: Special Moments

Zebra at Thornybush S. Africa

It was early morning — as half our safaris were at Thornybush Game Reserve, South Africa. We climbed as agilely as newbies could into the open vehicle when there was barely any daylight at all. Chilled by damp air, we pulled up our blanket around us and grabbed hold of the hot water bottles given to us by those who waved good-bye and wished us good luck. It was a special moment all four times we went on safari, but one adventure unfolded as a Hollywood drama in the span of a matter of minutes.

The world comes
like a lover, courting.
But a seeker only sees
a hunter, circling its prey.

Adiela Akoo

Our party required two vehicles, so we followed second in line down dirt paths, in and around stripped bare trees and communal pools of murky water.

Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa - hunting for prey

But nothing alerted to us to a real-life drama quite like the immediate pullover by the first group. And then we knew why. With a quick glimpse of a cheetah on the move, we were all on alert.

Cheetah on the move, Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa
Cheetah, moving cautiously at Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa
Circling its prey.

Colored birds and a host of monkeys picked up the chatter, unaware of specifics but knowledgeable of impending danger. Trees buzzed with nervous chit-chat. And animals on the ground decoded messages from above.

A water buffalo looked up and moved forward.

Water buffalo, Thornybush Game Reserve

An elephant seemed annoyed at the prospect of giving up a morning mud bath to see what the chatter was all about.

Elephant in mud bath, Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa

Zebras turned toward the sound, then cleared the path, only to follow us as we tried to keep up with the stealthy, swift spotted cat.

Zebras on watch, Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa

A sleepy lion aroused — more slowly than we would have thought. “Isn’t this just the drama du jour? Do I really need to come over there?” he seemed to say.

But being king, he moved forward, swiftly and surely as if he knew the routine well.

Lion walking, Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa

Our special moments were silent ones, as we became frighteningly aware of magnified sounds of cameras clicking and muffled gasps of amazement.

But then, as quickly as it had begun, the chase ended. We weren’t even sure who was the hunter or the one being hunted. It just ended.

The cheetah who put the reserve on notice stood still — watching, waiting. Then moved on.

Cheetah watching for prey, Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa
Just another day at Thornybush for this cheetah, but not for those watching him.
Antelope family, Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa

Was this elegant creature prey for the cheetah?

We journeyed on as well, looking for drama and more special moments around each curve.

The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa — for he has so much to look forward to.

Richard Mullin

Thanks to Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles for this week’s engaging photo challengeSpecial Moments. If you’d like to read more entries, be sure to click on the links under her inspiring post this week.

And may you have many special moments — no matter where you are,

Rusha & Bert

On safari at Thornybush Game Reserve, S. Africa
We’re smiling now, but not when we saw that cheetah!!!

38 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #139: Special Moments

  1. maristravels

    I don’t know if my comment was posted or not, it seemed to disappear. It was just to say that it is obvious how very special these moments were. Wonderful photos.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thank you so much. It was indeed a special time. We tried to savor the moments, but the trip sort of runs together now. Would love to return, especially if we could see herd migration. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Tina Schell

    I must agree Rusha, the special moments of an African safari are hard to beat! The sleepy beginnings of the very early mornings, the anticipation and realization of the appearance of creatures you’ve only dreamed of seeing, the thrill of the chase – all captured beautifully in your post. I absolutely loved the Mullin quote as well. I’d not thought of it that way. Ah to have the chance to do it all over again!!!

  3. Toonsarah

    Your opening paragraph perfectly captures that early morning excitement on safari, setting out not knowing what you will see! And I love your cheetah photos – great sighting! Although I have to say that as I started to read about your encounter I was convinced you were about to see a chase and kill 😲

      1. Teresa

        And your story is so exciting too. And as the quote says….I am to be envied because I haven’t been to such a magnificent place. Hopefully one day.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thanks so much! I was almost afraid to take the pictures for fear that the animal could jump up on me, and I’d be trying to take a photo! Of course, that never happened. But I did consider how that might unfold! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Steve Berger

    What a pleasure to read this post and your pictures are fantastic. I can still remember the pure joy of my first safari. There’s absolutely nothing like it.

It makes our day to hear from you.