Tag Archives: animals

I Can’t Help Iguazu Falls-ing in Love With You

I’ve never met a waterfall I didn’t like – and trust me, I’ve seen a few over the years – so there was no chance I’d miss out on Iguazu Falls during my adventures through South America. Along with Africa’s Victoria Falls and North America’s Niagara Falls, Iguazu is part of the holy trinity of big, wet, splashy things, and it’s absolutely magnificent. If you don’t believe me, just have a squiz at the photos.

Iguazu is 82 metres tall, 2700 metres wide, has 275 drops and woos millions of tourists every year. And ladies, he’s single! The locals reckon the falls were created when some tart named Naipí was meant to marry a god named El Kevin, but she fucked off with some other bloke (probably a Maori) and so Kev cracked the dirts and sliced the river up. I don’t know how historically accurate that is, but it sounds good enough to me.

Half the places to view the falls are in Argentina and the other half are in Brazil, but it’s a short trip between the two sites so it’s possible to check out both. There are three main tracks through the Argie side of the falls, so it takes at least half a day to check everything out, and that’s if you don’t spend too much time stuffing around, oohing and ahhing at all there is to see. I headed out after a 26 hour bus trip from Montevideo and managed to see it all before beer o’clock, so it’s not that much effort.

Circuito Superior and Circuito Inferior both give a good idea of what the falls are all about, with some really pretty spots, but these walks never reach the spectacular highs found at Victoria Falls. The falls are, for the most part, a little too far away, with only the final fall of the Inferior stroll rising up above the boardwalk. Luckily, that’s not the best of it.

Garganta del Diablo, or The Devil’s Throat, is what it’s all about. After catching a fun little train through the jungle, a wooden boardwalk took me out over the gurgling Rio Iguazu, to a bottleneck where thousands of litres of water crashes down every minute. The brute power of nature is astonishing, and I just stood back in wide-eyed wonder as the spray smashed into me and the whole world sounded like it was being torn apart. If this is what the devil’s throat is like, perhaps someone should hand the poor bloke a Butter Menthol.

As has become tradition when I visit waterfalls, I befriended a couple of coloured gentlemen. Reuben and Bert, a gay couple for Suriname, are very much in love and enjoying their honeymoon together. Whilst marvelling at the spectacular views, Reuben declared that the only thing more powerful than the raging waters of Iguazu Falls is one of Bert’s kisses. I dunno about that, because my urge to chunder was pretty bloody powerful right about then.

The comparisons with Victoria Falls are obvious, but I have to say that, so far, Africa’s Smoke that Thunders reigns supreme over South America’s Big Water. Not only is it larger and more imposing (but enough about my penis!), but the tracks offer more variety and allow you to really get up close to the massive wall of water. Don’t get me wrong, Iguazu is superb and truly one of the most awesome things on the planet, but I did feel a tad let down after visiting Victoria Falls.

Going from Victoria Falls to Iguazu is like rooting a chick with big tits, but being slightly disappointed because you rooted a chick with bigger tits the night before. It doesn’t make rooting the chick with big tits a bad experience, but in a perfect world you’d have the big tits first, and the bigger tits second – or in this case, Iguazu for an entree and Victoria for the main course. Sorry, I got distracted by all those tits for a second.

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Monkey Magic!

Paje is famous for it’s beaches, but that’s not all this Zanzibarean delight offers. The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is all that’s left of the island’s indigenous vegetation, and is home to thousands of zany monkeys. As a primate fancier (no, not in that way) I was determined to head out to the park whilst staying in Tanzania. As I’ve been living on beer and pizza for the past week, I decided to ride a pushbike out there, and asked for one at my hotel’s front desk.

​”I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like,” sang a very camp black man, pushing an old-school fixed gear clunker out from the shadows. “It’s got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good. I’d give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it.” Whilst oddly phrased, I thought it sounded like a good offer and started to say yes, when my new mate cut me off.

“You’re the kind of girl that fits in with my world. I’ll give you anything, everything if you want things.” The conversation had become uncomfortable, so I took the fucking bike and got out of there.

It took me about three seconds to realise the pushie was a piece of shit and was probably built back when the world was still black and white. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s first owner was a triceratops. If you know anything about my sex life, you’ll be aware that I refuse to ride anything that’s banged up and older than me, but I didn’t have any other options, so I rode that clunker 17km through farms and forests, up hills and around villages. I don’t reckon Lance Armstrong could guide that thing to see dealer, but I made it all the way to the legendary Jozani Park. Go me!

The jungle is as thick as an Arabian’s pubes, and I couldn’t wait to get amongst the trees and start tracking down monkeys. My plans were scuppered, however, when I was informed that I’d need a guide to take me out there. As an Australian, the thought of paying some dude to help me walk through the bush makes as much sense as paying some dude to root your girlfriend, so I told him that there was monkey on fire behind him, and ducked into the jungle when he turned around. It was far from the first time an imaginary flaming monkey has saved me.

Jozani is definitely pretty, with all sorts of ancient ruins hiding amongst the almost-impenetrable jungle. The paths are poorly signposted and meander through the vegetation, often disappearing into the swampland, so it wouldn’t be hard to get lost in there and end up having to marry a monkey. Actually, that sounds like a nice life; monkeys are always gobbling bananas, so they’d probably give great blowjobs. I bet a monkey’s never forced their husband to watch Orange is the New Black, either. Any monkeys out there, get in touch.

After traipsing through the jungle for half an hour, I stumbled into a clearing and realised that I was being watched by dozens of pairs of tiny eyes. Red colobus monkeys were perched in every tree, and a swarm of shifty-looking Sykes’ monkeys were hootin’ and hollerin’ and pullin’ themselves off. It was an incredible, and I felt like I was in a nature documentary as the wildlife lived wildly around me. 

Of course, that didn’t last long. I was sitting a metre away from a colobus and feeling at peace with the world when I heard gutteral screeching coming from the bush. I thought it might’ve been a herd of wildebeest, but it was something much worse – a bunch of Germans! They smashed through the bush, squawking away in their grinding voices, scaring all the monkeys away as they rushed to take selfies of themselves. My monkey friend gave me a worried look and then disappeared into the green while a fat, sausage-guzzling German ran after him. The moment was lost.

I left the krauts to continue their blitzkrieg on the bush, and crept through the bush on my own, finding monkeys everywhere I went. I’ve seen elephants, rhinos and giraffes over the past couple of months, but this experience was special because I was able to become completely immerses in the monkeys’ culture. After an hour or two I felt more simian than man. I was sitting in a tree, sharing a banana with a cute little critter named Kirk and contemplating dropping out of society, when the monkey placed his paw on me. He looked into my eyes, and I into his, and the message was clear. As much as we both wanted to spend our days in the trees together, I had to go back to my world. We were just too different.

I hugged the monkey, wiped a tear from my eye, and climbed back to the ground. I was miserable, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I looked back at the monkey and waved as the sweet sadness of departure washed over me. And then the contents of the monkey’s bladder washed over as the dirty bastard pissed into the afternoon sun. That’s the last time I give my heart to a fucking monkey.

Spotting a leopard

Since the dawn of time, it has been written in the stars that I will achieve something great, and that is seeing all of the Big Five game animals. I crossed three of them – the African lion, African elephant, and Cape buffalo – off my list in Addo, and sighted a black rhino during my first day in Kruger National Park yesterday. But the African leopard had eluded me, just as gainful employment eludes a South Sydney fan. That, however, was soon to change.

I woke up early this morning, shook off my hangover, and raced to my car to begin the search. I was just about to back out of the drive when a fat, bald bloke with a bushy moustache knocked on my window.
“Do you want to buy a house?” he asked me. Seeing as I’m staying in the cheapest hostel in Kruger, he shouldn’t have been surprised by my response.
“Are you going to see the animals in the park?” he asked.
“Yep,” I replied.
“Well I have nothing to do today,” he said, obviously trying to weedle his way into my car. While he trotted off to put his safari suit on I got the hell out of there. Fucking Saffas.

I was prepared for an all-day hunt for leopards, but shortly after venturing into Kruger I spotted one! They’re hard to miss, because they’re about four metres tall with big, long necks and legs that look like telegraph poles. I was rapt to have completed my search for the Big Five, and sat back to watch the majestic leopard eating leaves from the highest tree top.

I was so happy with my success that I immediately sent a photo of the leopard to my father, and pepared to bask in his pride and adulation. However, he immediately called me and was determined to ruin my good mood with some bad news.
“Hi, champ,” he said, using a nickname for me that is certainly fitting. “I’m incredibly proud of you for being an inspiration to millions, having unrivalled success in your career, having sex with countless women -many of them with four fully-functioning limbs, and generally being very cool. I also prefer you to your brother. I’m so proud of you for hunting down and finding rare and exotic animals in remote parts of South Africa. Honestly, you’re a hero to me.

“But I have to question that leopard you spotted. Now, I’ve never seen any of the Big Five – I’ve seen similar critters in Sri Lanka but they certainly don’t count – but I can assure you that’s not a leopard. It’s a fucking giraffe. I should know, because I taught you the difference between giraffes and leopards three decades ago and you didn’t get it back then. Leopards are relatively small cats, while giraffes are gigantic, long-necked horselike creatures. If you don’t know the difference by now, you’re obviously a fucking imbecile.

“Oh, and judging by the nude photos you’ve put up on your blog, your knowledge of wild animals isn’t the only thing that hasn’t grown since you were a toddler.” I guess that’s the sort of attitude my dad has when he doesn’t get his 18 hours sleep a night.

I was crushed, but remained determined to encounter the Big Five despite the setback. I found a sign that told me leopards had been spotted in a far-flung corner of the park, so I fired up the Hyundai and scorched over there, narrowly avoiding endangered animals as I went. Honestly, they wouldn’t be nearly as endangered if they didn’t keep running in front of cars. I saw a bunch of vehicles parked by the side of the road and frantically headed over there.

“Wild dogs,” a woman told me.

“You can shove your wild dogs up your arse,” I told her, and sped out of there.

I crossed rivers and climbed mountains, plunged into valleys and shot across wide, open plains. Finally, with the day dying, I found myself slumped over the steering wheel and surrounded by thick jungle, weeping at my failure. I’d come all this way and failed. Then I heard a snarl, and looked up to see a gigantic leopard just metres away. I stared in amazement, snapped a few photos, and then he was gone. I sat there in silence, the enormity of my achievement slowly seeping into my mind. I’d done it. I’d finally become a man.

Alright, so I never found a leopard. But I doubt Stephen Hawking has ever seen one, either, and no one gives him shit for it.

On the trail of the Big Five

Horror movies are massively popular in South Africa (what better way to get your mind off the everyday atrocities of murder and rape than by watching a film filled with murder and rape?), so it’s not surprising they named their biggest and best national park after world famous scary movie icon Freddy Krueger. Nah, just joking, it was named after the surprisingly-still-a-bit-hot Sonia Kruger. John Kruger Melloncamp? Whatever, the fact is I spent today there.

Most people who head out on safari in Africa want to see the Big Five – the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, black rhino and African lion. I managed to see the first three when I went to Addo, but to be a real man I had to find the latter ones. Kruger National Park is pthe most famous animal sanctuary in the world, so it was the pefect place to complete my collection and achieve safari immortality.

The park is both beautiful and massive, running more than 300km north to south. As I crossed a bridge on my way in, I gazed down at a tranquil river full of bulbous hippos (they’re not one of the Big Five, so they can go kiss fish as far as I’m concerned). The roads through the park are easy to traverse, and I soon found myself cruising through wide open plains and past staggering rocky outcrops. I saw monkeys, warthogs and thousands of birds, and barely dodged a stampede of elephants.

I turned a corner and in front of me was a hideous black monster (no, not Oprah Winfrey) – mark the black rhino off my checklist! The tank-like animal was chilling out just metres from my car, and I couldn’t help feeling that if he’d wanted to flip me and the Hyundai, it wouldn’t have been much work for him. Seeing such a fascinating creature up close and with no one else around was unreal.

The sun sunk lower as I weaved my way through zebras and buffalo, but I couldn’t find a leopard anywhere. I got so caught up in my search that I was soon racing against the clock just to get out of the park before they closed the gates. I had to abandon my intentions to drive through the park to Hazyview, on the far western edge, and speed through the southern gate instead, which is a 120km drive from where I was meant to be. Still, I’d rather have a long drive on crappy Saffa back roads than spend the night cuddling a bloody elephant.

My evening saw me cosying up with a different kind of wildlife – the locals at the pub near my hostel. Saffas are a lot like Aussies in many ways, with a similar sense if humour and love for adventure and beer, but the constant racism is hard to handle. In a lot of ways I can’t blame them, because their lives have been made worse since the end of apartheid, thousands of whites have been killed by blacks, and they’re forced to live behind electrified fences for their own safety. They’re innocent people who had no part in apartheid, but are now seemingly being punished for it. On the other hand the all-consuming hatred between the races means that South Africa as a whole cannot possibly be sustainable.

Amongst banter about sport and movies, the locals gleefully told me stories of bashing or killing blacks. Revenge, hate and murder are everyday topics of conversation here, and I felt a little dirty by the time I went to bed. I was also surprised by how easily I fell into conversation with people who would be, by Australian standards, racist extremists. South Africa is beautiful, but also deeply troubled, and I’ve found most of the people here to be damaged in one way or another. Oh well, I can’t solve the world’s problems, I’ve gotta go find me a leopard!