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African Adventures

Rabbi Yaakov Lubin

Are you ready for the jungle? I don’t know about you but after getting to know Africa a little better, my kavanah when saying “Mah rabu maasecha Hashem” may never be the same

Thursday, October 27, 2016

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Photo: Shutterstock

D oes walking next to a herd of giant elephants, sleeping in a tent with a hippo just outside, or having lunch with a mountain gorilla sound exciting to you? Sign up for an African safari. As large areas of the continent of Africa are designated as national parks, Africa is one of the last places where you can see animals in the wild.

 

Off to the Okavango

In the middle of Botswana’s harsh Kalahari Desert lies the Okavango Delta, the largest and most beautiful oasis in Africa. (An oasis is a place in a desert where there’s water and plants.) This great oasis is made by the Okavango River, which each year sends 2.9 trillion gallons (10 trillion liters) of water into the middle of the Kalahari Desert, creating a 6,000-square mile wetland.

The Okavango Delta is considered by many the most beautiful place on earth. In addition to its beauty, there’s almost nowhere else you’ll find so many kinds of animals in one place. When temperatures soar, vegetation withers, and familiar drinking holes dry up, a multitude of animals head for the Okavango Delta in search of food and water. The place is so astounding it’s nicknamed the Miracle Delta.

Who Lives Here?

You don’t need binoculars to see wildlife here, as lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses, baboons, and other regional animals are out enjoying the refreshing waters of the Okavango. One traveler wrote, “hippos are virtually everywhere, sometimes, as in our case, right outside our bungalows!”

There’s so much water, there are even boat tours, as many places aren’t accessible on foot. Don’t be tempted by the cool and clear water to go for a swim, however — crocodiles are lurking everywhere.

Long Trip

While the animals seem happy to arrive at their Okavango vacation home, the long journey they took to get here was far less pleasant. Traveling hundreds of miles across the Kalahari Desert is no easy task. Huge sandstorms make the trip even worse and can be tragic for baby elephants who can easily get separated from their mothers and find themselves all alone when the sand settles.

 

It’s not only the baby elephants who don’t always make it to the Okavango. Adolescent elephants often have to fight off gangs of hungry lions to survive. Elephants aren’t usually a lion’s first choice of target, however. Those powerful trunks can badly injure or even kill a lion with a direct blow.

So why would a lion take on an elephant? Elephants aren’t that fast and are one of the last animals to migrate toward the Okavango. With nothing else on the menu, lions are forced to attack an elephant to survive.

Would You Like a Drink?

The water holes in Chobe National Park, in northern Botswana, are pit stops for animals on their way to the Okavango. You can really feel the tension here, as both the elephants and the lions need to drink and they are by no means on friendly terms.

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