On to a Safari

So many days i find myself in amazing places doing amazing things with amazing people. Often i pause i ponder “how did i get here?” After the excellent diving and rare opportunity to anchor alone surrounded by the second largest coral reef in the world, then the rare show of dolphins bow riding on Furthur what could come next? (The dolphin show was very unique mixture of Bottle Nosed and Spinner Dolphins played to the great glee of the girls Yet another day of bizarre wonders of course. I have never seen the two species travel together, something to query my dolphin hugger friends about.)

One of the more interesting byproducts of the President Marcos–remember all those shoes?- reign of extremes is the collection of rare African animals roaming about the game preserve of Calauit Island. Apparently the ol’ boy learned about some threatened wild African animals in war torn Nairobi and whipped out his big visa card and bought some. The animals have thrived on this lush island so now there are a dozen or more giraffes, Antelope and a large herd of Zebras and many local animals all under the protection of the reserve.

We arrived at the picturesque well protected anchorage late in the afternoon, launched the dinghy and went exploring. We found the Safari information center and made plans for our private safari the next morning. It was great to have Jof along who spoke the language and made all our arrangements, a real asset.

We arose early and headed to our 8am appointed hour. We selected the jeep safari, paid the 400 pesos a head and the 1000p for the jeep. Actually Jof got the local discount, i tried too showing i am just as brown as she, no luck.

The jeep was a marvel, 60 year old diesel Willies Jeep, about Korean War vintage. We piled in and on the jeep and headed to the outback. In short order we saw some of 800 small local deer that live in the reserve. As we turned the corner we all clamored at the sight of our first giraffe. We piled out of the jeep and were given branches of greens to hold, which is an open invitation to the tall critters to come say “hi”.

Gazing up at the 20 ft tall beastie i saw the beauty of its movements albeit somewhat comical too. Depending on your view of the universe the giraffe is one of two things: evolution getting a bit too goal orientated and not looking at the big picture or God having a little fun. This critter is designed (or evolved) to eat from tall trees, and nothing more. They cannot reach the ground, we watched one trying as he spread his spindly legs looking like i do when i do some yoga positions, just plain funny. They are an incredible site as they do what we called in the horse world, pace, a gait in which the legs of each side travel in unison.

We got to know them very fast, the girls lost their fear and we had a blast putting leaves on Sam’s long locked head and watched them eat off of it. This being another of the so many “firsts” for Sam while aboard Furthur. She will have so many tales to tell.

We walked amongst the Zebras for a while then back in the jeep to see some other wonders. We visited an enclosed marsh with crocodiles and later saw some baby crocs too. We saw a family of Porcupines and some interesting monkeys. We all paused as we came up to the monstrous Python snake, this puppy was huge, probably because the feed him real puppies, something that gave the girls a jolt. i later learned the Python had belonged to the dive shop at Puerto Del Sol, but alas the giant escaped and munched a few chickens. So with the concern for the small children the owner gave it to the reserve.

We finished our tour, all full of amazement. We bid our guides farewell and a great big thank you for our unexpected safari. Again the Philippines proved to be a place of constant surprises. Like so many places before, i find myself gazing into the sky and saying to myself, “i like it here”.