20 Jun2014


Even if the blood-curdling cheetah, hyena and lion sighting of the previous evening was enough to make the trip, we had yet to see giraffe. At our request, during the early morning drive of the third day, Sipho and Louis tracked giraffes. They must have thought us silly since giraffes certainly were not part of the Big Five, nor the Magnificent Seven, and we had yet to see Cape Buffalo. As we drove south from the lodge, towards the border of another reserve, Louis pointed at giraffe tracks on the ground. Sipho stops the vehicle, and Louis looks at a far ridge in the horizon. He spotted giraffes in the distance.

Photo 1

We squinted our eyes, used binoculars with 16x magnification, and maxed out the zoom-telephoto capacities of our cameras. True enough, in the distance, looking like construction cranes, were two giraffes. We could not go any closer because the giraffes were no longer on the property of the reserve we were in, so that was as good as it got. (Good grief, how DID they know they were there to begin with?!)

Photo 2

Resigned to the mini-sighting of giraffes, we proceeded to look for buffalo. As we turned a corner, we were greeted by the sight of giraffes by the roadside, calmly grazing and minding their own business.

Photo 3

They turned to look at us, eyeing us curiously, then looked for their young calf, who was in the distance seemingly playing with a zebra.

Photo 4

One advantage of being in a private reserve, and if the guides and trackers deem it safe, is that they allow you to go off-road and get down from the vehicle. And that is what we did. Sipho explained that giraffes are extremely gentle despite their size, but are very protective of their young.

Photo 5

We walked cautiously towards the giraffes to observe them. Seemingly shy creatures (despite their size!) they walked quietly away as we neared them. Careful to keep a safe distance from them, we watched and took more photos of the adults…

Photo 6

…and as if on cue, the calf made its way back towards the male and female, passing almost in front of us.

Photo 7

Thrilled that we had seen giraffes, and at such a close range, we proceeded to look for the elusive buffalo in the succeeding drives. Little did we know that in the same day, we would run into another family of giraffes in another clearing.

Photo 8

Just as we were surprised to see giraffes again, they seemed more surprised to see us. There were two calves in this family, playful and full of energy. The adults gathered their young…

Photo 9

…and made their way across the road.

Photo 10

We stopped as they crossed in front of us…

Photo 11

…and noticed the curious way they walk. Sipho explained that giraffes swing both legs on each side of the body forward at the same time. Both left legs, then both right legs.

Photo 12

Depending on how you looked at it, it made them incredibly graceful, or incredibly goofy to look at. The young calf demonstrated it quite well.

Photo 13

Safely across, and in the distance, the adults make sure the calves are complete before proceeding on their way.

Photo 14

It was a good day for giraffes.

Note: This post written by Mrs. MM, and she selected the photos as well. Clearly, giraffe were her favorite animals of the trip… :)



  1. pixienixie says:

    Good morning!

    Nice picture of the family, MM! :) I was looking at the pictures, and noticed that the young giraffe has hairy ossicones. Weird observation, but that’s what caught my attention…. ;)

    Jun 20, 2014 | 8:01 am


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  3. Thel from Florida says:

    Lucky you!! The babies are so cute–I want one in my backyard :)

    Jun 20, 2014 | 8:34 am

  4. Footloose says:

    Majestic animals. Ann Innis Dagg, the Toronto lady who pioneered the study of animal behaviour in the wild and giraffes in particular, found out that although giraffes do not match bonobos’ preoccupation with sex, they nevertheless belong to that group of mammals noted for their ardor and lustfulness. Apparently, when the females are not in estrus or not forthcoming or disinclined such as when nursing, the males regularly get on and make do with each other’s companionship.

    Jun 20, 2014 | 9:25 am

  5. marilene says:

    Just awesome, to be able to see them up close, wow… beautiful pix of the fam..

    Jun 20, 2014 | 9:39 am

  6. Cecille B. says:

    More than the giraffes, it’s the Teen who caught my attention. My, she’s a looker- tall, tan and bedimpled, she will give the supermodels a run for their money anytime!

    Jun 20, 2014 | 9:46 am

  7. marilen says:

    This, personally, would be one of the loveliest encounters on our ‘tag-along’ safari!! The special treat is the family photo. The teen is a beautiful young lady!!

    Jun 20, 2014 | 10:54 am

  8. AlexME says:

    What a striking shot. The male, tall and full of pride, the female mother looking happy and contented, and the young off-spring full of grace and beauty and almost as tall as the male father. BTW, the shots of the giraffes looked great too :)

    Thanks again for sharing your family adventures and pictures.

    Jun 20, 2014 | 11:14 am

  9. Khew says:

    What a literally prodigious stumble!

    Jun 20, 2014 | 11:23 am

  10. leigh says:

    footloose – i just have to say that i found your comment hilarious! thanks for the laugh!

    Jun 20, 2014 | 2:11 pm

  11. MrsKookie says:

    For some reason, when you showed the giraffe and the zebra, I was half hoping I’d see Gloria (hippo) and Alex (lion) to complete the Madagascar movie :)

    Lovely photos. And the Lady is so pretty :)

    Jun 20, 2014 | 6:06 pm

  12. Kasseopeia says:

    I was waiting for this post! :)
    Thank you for sharing!

    I will definitely save up for a safari and take shots like this. Yey!

    Jun 20, 2014 | 10:47 pm

  13. Meg says:

    Nice family picture, eh. Love this shot, so natural, and taken somewhere else and not in front of a Lion King background setup somewhere in Disneyland.

    Jun 21, 2014 | 2:20 am

  14. Kasseopeia says:

    Off-topic: i just noticed that the popular posts now have a “view” counter – awesomesauce!

    Jun 21, 2014 | 4:03 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Kass, I just noticed that now as well, it must be something wordpress added… I am totally flabbergasted that 700,000++ people have read the Christmas story!

    Jun 21, 2014 | 6:37 am

  16. Connie C says:

    Thank you for this South African series. You made me relive and recount our own safari and South African experience, one of the best trips of our lifetime considering that an African safari was not even in my bucket list. A friend who works out of Mozambique goaded us in visiting the continent and it turned out to be one of our best trips ever having all the possible sides and aspects of travel: adventure, nature, social , educational, political, culinary, etc.

    We were also fortunate with most of the sightings we were hoping for , of wild animals previously as real to me only as the illustrations in a kid’s animal alphabet book coming to life :a crash of rhinos, a herd of impalas, a sitting giraffe, necking giraffes, not really “necking” as in estrus or non-estrus from Footloose’s account, but their way of fighting whipping their long necks against each other, nesting eagles, a vulture finishing off a monitor lizard, a warthog feeding while on its knees ,a leopard descending from a tree, hippos too numerous to count submerged in the river while digesting food with an occasional rising of their heads to surface as if to yawn, a pride of lions our ranger diligently pursued by the river, a frightful encounter with wild buffaloes, grazing elephants wrecking trees, four beautiful cheetahs under a tree, baboons chasing after each other, etc. scenes that will forever be etched in my memory.

    Most of all to be walking in the streets of Soweto, the hotbed of social uprisings during apartheid was a highlight of the trip for a one time political activist. One of the streets is probably the only one in the world that shares the homes of two of Nobel laureates ( President Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu). And then there is Graca Machel, the only woman in the world to have been first lady twice , first of Mozambique and then of South Africa when she married President Mandela.

    A sweet and touching ending to the trip was a memorable experience with a cabdriver of Malaysian descent who was without bitterness recounting the experiences under apartheid and who took us as if we were his personal guests. When he dropped us off at our Bed and Breakfast just at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, he asked only to be paid the fare we felt we would like to give him. Where in the world?

    Jun 21, 2014 | 10:27 am

  17. Ariel Nievera says:

    Very gorgeous looking family. Nice vacation. I also like taking my family on adventureous trips. Last time was fishing for halibut in Homer Alaska and Salmon drift fishing in the Kasiloff and Kenai rivers.

    Jun 21, 2014 | 1:08 pm

  18. Footloose says:

    With giraffes, everything they do seems to be necking. It’s the notable attribute that lends them grace (on top of the long legs of course); same as with swans and cranes. This is probably what’s behind certain Burmese tribeswomen’s painful pursuit of a graceful neck. Hard to pull off with betel reddened teeth.

    Jun 21, 2014 | 8:13 pm

  19. nicole says:

    Your daughter is so pretty!

    Jun 23, 2014 | 1:38 pm

  20. millet says:

    beautiful family picture! your stories and this series of posts made me really want to go to africa. by the way, it’s frustrating that unlike facebook, there’s no “Like” button here for posts and comments. i would have “liked” a lot of ’em.

    Jun 24, 2014 | 3:21 pm

  21. Joey @ 80breakfasts says:

    Hooray! The giraffes!! Siiigh…such amazing photos! Including the wonderful family picture of the three of you above :)

    Jun 26, 2014 | 11:35 am

  22. Betchay says:

    Mrs. MM, you also write so well you should have a separate blog from MM….maybe a his and hers point of view??

    Jul 7, 2014 | 1:04 am


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