The day before I head off on my big adventure, Mark, Liz and I headed to Animal Kingdom to do the Wild Africa Trek. It’s a behind the scenes tour of Kilimanjaro Safaris. It started with a walk through the “woods” and then coming into a bamboo clearing where our base camp was. There they weigh us, put us in a harness, give us canteens, and we store our personal belongings. We also get earpieces to hear our guide so we don’t have to constantly stop and gather round. Though our guide was a bit of a heavy breather on our “hike” and she never turned off her mic. 

Our first stop was the hippos. We “happen” to run into a women there with a bucket full of lettuce. She bangs her stick on the bucket, and the hippo comes trudging over and out of the water. Mouth open, he is ready for his treat. 

Next is the 500 feet of bridges. We get hooked in and one at a time to walk across them. The first bridge overlooks the safari road and hippos, the second goes right over the giant Nile crocodiles. Photopass photographers all along the way to capture the moment.
 
Once off the bridges, we went back to where the crocodiles are. Basically they just lay there, but one moved a few inches forward, and another moved his tail over another one’s face. So that’s as exciting as the crocodiles got. 
After the crocs, we peeled off our harnesses and hopped into the back of a truck with cushiony bench seats and binoculars. From there, we basically did the safari ride, except that we got to pull off the rode at any time to stop and watch the animals. In the Savannah we watched the giraffes from afar, and eventually all four of them made their way to the truck and walked around us. Two of them even chased another little animal. Who doesn’t love to see a giraffe run?! 
Even better than a giraffe running, is a baby elephant with his floppy feet trying to keep up with a momma. OMG, don’t even get me started, I’m already squealing thinking about it. It is sooo cute. 
Interesting(?) Fact Time: 

Disney’s Wildlife Conservation Fund (DWCF) does research with the animals and then uses that to help in Africa.  Elephants tend to destroy farmland, so the farmers shoot them to protect their crops, which certainly doesn’t help the elephant population. One of the things they learned from the elephant was that they make a certain deep low rumbling noise (too low for humans) when a bee nest is nearby to signal danger to the other elephants as far as 2 miles away. They recorded this sound and went to Africa to see if they make that same noise. Sure enough they do! So they introduce bees to the farmers, who keep bee next along their property line to keep the elephants away. They also harvest the honey. It’s a win-win for everyone.

We hopped out of the truck at the Savannah outpost. It over looks a huge area with a view of the giraffes, flamingoes, agape, elephants and waterbucks. (Another fun fact, the waterbuck secretes a stinky smell and tastes bad, which means that no other animal want to eat them, crocodiles included). Lately the food has been pretty bad at Disney, but this meal did not disappoint. The vegetarian mean was delicious. It included fresh fruit, taboulli, hummus with pita bread, saffron rice with raisons, and cous cous with tofu. The meat eaters had some of the same, but also prosciutto, dried beef, tandoori shrimp, and smoked salmon rolled with dill cream cheese atop a cucumber and jicama slaw. All served in a two-tied canister style lunchbox. 

Back onto the truck, we did the rest of the safari ride, seeing the cheetahs, lions, wart hog, and ostrich. Another DWCF success story is the cheetahs in Africa were eating farmers livestock – which caused the farmers to kill the cheetahs. Turns out a large dog will scare a cheetah off, so DWCF gave Anatolian Shepards to the farmers. The project was accurately named “Dogs Helping Cats”

Back at home base, we took one last group shot and headed out into the jungle that is Animal Kingdom.

xo ZZ

– Whew that was a long blog. I need help. How can I make the pictures smaller? Any suggestions? 

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