Safari, Namibia 2016: Next Link In The Chain. Blog #13 “Wait-a-bit-Bush

by david on May 8, 2017

Up at 5:00 and in the Land Cruiser by 5:30. No breakfast this morning, only a Yeti full of coffee. I really did not mind missing out on breakfast because we were going to be returning by mid-morning for brunch. I have already mentioned how much I enjoy brunch while on safari, so I won’t go into that all over again. Let it suffice to say that even though my stomach was rumbling quite angrily, my mind was content with the knowledge of the promised reward. The combination of the cool crisp morning air and the coffee were complimenting each other rather well and if I added the fact I was in the veld, everything was actually very good. Mornings in the middle of nowhere are normally quiet. Except for the low rumbling of the engine and the tires crunching as they eased our way over the rocks and sand, this morning was no exception. It is remarkable when somehow everyone gets the inclination to be quiet at the same time. All three of us were silent, almost if we were paying our respects to the quiet that surrounded the vehicle. I was comfortable and contented as the Land Cruiser rocked and bounced its way to one of Johann’s favorite glassing areas.

When we arrived at the summit, the quiet was replaced by a rather stiff wind. The more the sun inched its way over the horizon, the more it blew. I drew my jacket up around myself and was even more grateful I still had some of my preferred morning elixir (hot, black coffee) to ward off the chill from the inside out. I was down to my last few sips when some eland were spotted a few ridges over. Johann and I left Ben up top, and we dropped off over the side and made our way toward the group of eland.

Hiking up and down the side of kopjes was difficult enough, but the rocks were sharp and loose. Even though it is one of the last things you want to do, it is all too easy to lose your footing and end up on your backside (on the way down) or your hands and face (on the way up). As someone who over the years has become adept at both, I can promise you neither is pleasant. Today’s hike was further complicated by a particular nasty variety of Acacia tree more commonly known as the “wait-a-bit” tree or bush. They provide cover for and do not bother the eland in the least. Human beings are another matter. These trees/bushes have very strong, long, and sharp thorns in the shape of a cat’s claw. They not only stick but grab hold and don’t let go. The not letting go and having to wait (most likely for help, although sometimes you can free yourself) to extricate one’s self leads to the “wait-a-bit” name. If you moved even slightly before extricating yourself from the first branch to grab a hold of you, three or four more would have a hold on you before you could get out the first four letter word. Needless to say, I was losing the battle (rather badly I might add) with the wait-a-bit bush.

If I caught my jacket on a thorn and immediately stopped and tried to use the other hand to get myself loose, it caught a thorn before it traveled across my body to dislodge the first. Next, I tried stopping and backing up and away. That did not work either as the backs of my ears and neck could attest to. By the way, backing into sharp pointy things is never a good idea. The next idea I had was to stop and try and drop low enough to get under the canopy. This worked with a little success but I was having to reach back into the middle of things to retrieve my hat from its suspended position. I’ll swear that on more than one occasion the bush actually moved my hat closer to the center all by itself. The situation became worse after the sun came up enough for me to want to shed my coat. This was unfortunate, as my coat was the only thing keeping the thorns from my arms and torso. I was left with the option of death by dehydration if I kept my coat on, or exsanguination if I removed it. By the end of the stalk, both my coat and I were looking a little worse for wear. To make things worse, the eland kept moving and we never caught up with them. The real capper on the morning was we stayed on the track too long and missed the wonderful brunch I had been daydreaming about all morning. We did manage to make it back for lunch, a little rest and lots of antiseptic.

After lunch was a carbon copy of the morning hunt except for one minor detail. We never saw the first eland. We did however see a monster impala. His headgear would have measured at least 25”. He was a definite keeper that is, if I was hunting impala. Hope I don’t regret passing him up. Tonight would be an early dinner and an even earlier bed time. I was pooped.

Wait a bit tree Wait a bit tree

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