My younger daughter, Dawn, and her family were here over the Christmas vacation and we had several interesting adventures. The first one was a visit to a place called Ranch Nazinga, an elephant and wild life preserve. It was started in the 1980s by a Canadian who wanted to try to save the elephants in the wild. He located the preserve in an area elephants sometimes visited and attracted the elephants and other animals by building dams to hold back the water that falls in the rainy season. The dams are built of the rocks and stones you find around there, and the road goes right over the dam.
The preserve covers 98,000 hectares and there are 11 dams that have created ponds and lakes. To get there we took a nicely paved road south from Ouaga for about two hours and then spent another two hours on dirt roads that got progressively bumpier and more rutted until we reached the ranch. There are one room cottages with showers and toilets and there is electricity between 6 and 10 at night, from a generator. Here is what they look like.
|cabin at the ranch|
There is a dining room/restaurant were you tell them a couple of hours ahead of time what you want to eat from their rather limited menu and they fix it for you. It is a good thing that they have one, because there is nothing else around for miles. Here I am with Dawn after a meal.
|Jan and Dawn in the dining room|
On the drive into the park we saw several different types of animals including antelope and elephants, but not too close to the road. We arrived at the ranch just at dusk and did not see much there. The next morning we started early with the family perched on top of the 4 X 4 we were using for transportation. I stayed down below with the driver and guide.
|Riding on a 4X4|
We drove around the park for two hours or so and saw several more groups of animals, including a couple of kinds of antelope and more elephants. There was a mother with a very small baby (well, small for an elephant) and two other juveniles. They crossed the road right behind our car and my grandson got this great picture of them.
After we got back I wondered what we would do for the rest of the day. There is a viewing area by the lake at the ranch and we went down there to see what we could see. Here is what it looks like from across the lake, as you approach the ranch.
Here we are, checking things out from inside the observatory.
|Observing in the observatory|
About 11:00 my grand children came running into the observatory and told us there was an elephant right outside. Annie had been reading on the porch and the elephant walked past her, juts about 10 feet from the house. It was heading for the lake and we watched it dust itself off by blowing sand over its back with its trunk, and then go into the lake to get a drink and take a shower. I always thought the cartoons showing elephants with their trunks extended at a 45 degree angle looked a bit odd, but that is actually how they draw water up into their trunks. Here is a video showing the process:
At about the same time a group of elephants came down to the lake on the shore opposite the observatory. As you can see, we saw LOTS of elephants, compared to last year when all Janet and her family saw was the head of one through the branches of a tree. More about the other animals in my next posting.
|Lots of elephants!|