from Waza with love

In contrast to the previous post, our Christmas present to ourselves were animals – live ones!  Wild and protected.

On Boxing Day we set off to Waza National Park, located north of Maroua, near Lake Chad.  Catherine, Joost, Marjolein, Greg and I, plus our trusty driver Bashir, set off in a Toyota Tercel hatchback bright and early.  Two in the front, four in the back – who cares about seat belts on a short, pothole-ridden, 4-hour drive!

We arrived in Waza by lunchtime, and immediately set off in search of wildlife.

We had seen monkeys on the way, but much to our surprise, we met with a herd of giraffes within minutes of driving in.  It was no wonder as we had a sage older gentleman as a guide – he looked as though he had done this everyday for the last 50 years. What a treasure!

So, if you are keeping track of the Tercel count – that makes it two in the front, three in the back and two in the trunk. 

Back to the giraffes.  These magnificent and graceful animals elegantly stood, necks stretched out, looking at right at us.  How small we must have seemed.  After a long time, they started to run away – in the beautiful slow motion only a giraffe could create.

If that had been it, I would have been delighted.  Giraffes for Christmas.  There is no topping that!

Oh, but there was so much more to come!  Through the rest of the afternoon we saw ostriches, gazelles, warthogs, jackals, antelopes, and a multitude of birds so beautiful we were often speechless.

a full Tercel

My personal favourite: a piecing turquoise bird that flew overhead and then landed in a tree right across from us.  Took my breath away.

Squashed in the trunk of the car, leaning out the window, sitting out the window – nothing would stop us from trying our best to catch a glimpse of our new friends.  Bouncing around in a small car on rutted dirt roads – dodging elephant poop and other obstacles – may have caused a few bruised bums and knees, but was worth it. 

Before the sun could go down, we left the park and retreated to the “campement”, a cottage-style hotel set up on a hill overlooking the park.  From the restaurant, we watched the sunset as a forest fire raged on in the “brousse” many kilometers away.

Catherine, Greg and I retreated to our cabin, taking the better part of an hour rigging up the mosquito nets we had packed, ensuring the malaria-beasties had no chance of munching on our soft Canadian flesh.  We love wildlife, just not that much.

By 6am we were back at the park gates, picking up our guide once again.  Our mission of the day: lions.

Alas, they were nowhere to be found.  Must have decided to sleep in. 

the veiled ladies of Waza: Catherine and Caroline

Mind you, the antelopes-cheval – including the elusive two headed variety – we met up with at sunrise were a very special treat.  So were the hundreds of birds flying overhead and chattering wildly from the trees above.  So were all the other herds of antelopes, gazelles and giraffes we also saw that morning 

Hearts filled with the majestic sights of these wild creatures – in their expansive, dry and truly natural environment – is simply the greatest of sights. 

Next time: elephants.  And a bigger car!

NOTE:  Check out some of Greg’s favourite picks from the Waza trip here.

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~ by Caroline Spira on January 12, 2010.

One Response to “from Waza with love”

  1. je les trouves très belles tes girafles maman louise

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