Today we’re going to visit a nearby safari camp because our next accommodations are close and so there’s little driving to be done, the extra time will be spent communing with my favorite animals.

Parsons Private Nature Reserve / Balule Nature Reserve, R40, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa

We’re spending the day in the Parsons Private Nature Reserve, in the Balule Nature Reserve.

We encounter what’s quickly become my favorite African mammal: the giraffe. Everything about it enchants me, especially their un-worldy size. These things are BIG!

Here’s how one giraffe encounter went:

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

The first thing notable upon entry into the Parsons Private Nature Reserve is the shade structure over our car and the heavy gate that swings shut behind us. This is to keep the predators in; you’ll see. The second thing is the inspection the car is given; hitchhiking wildlife is unwanted.

The third thing new to us is the chalkboard accompanying the map (both inside the shade structure) which lists recent wildlife sightings by time and location: if you want to see a particular species you have at least a clue about where it was.

One of the staff guides, whose name I’ve regrettably lost, is taking us on a very specialized safari walkabout today. His rifle has nothing to do with the game we’re stalking today, but with protecting us from the predators that roam around Parsons.

Our quarry today are insects!

I’m excited because (1) we haven’t thought about insects thus far and (2) this brings me back to my great experiences of high school biology field trips and my time mountaineering. Carmella hates insects, and we’ve been having a bad relationship day, so while she comes along there’s a black cloud over the proceedings.

The first specimen we find is the molted exoskeleton of a scorpion!

I remember my biology training and start turning over rocks and I find a large(r) live scorpion! I happen to have my Gerber multi-tool handy so the guide shows me how to gently and safely lift and show the scorpion around.

The stars of the day are these African giant black millipedes (Archispirostreptus gigas). It’s an act of will to put one on my palms, but the squeamishness is over in a second. It feels cool, smooth, and slightly ticklish, like a stalk of a plant grazing against my leg.

That was amazing. Next, we stay at the luxurious Sausage Tree Safari Camp

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