Wild Africa Trek with Nevie (in her own words)

We had an early start today to take part in the Wild Africa Trek . When we arrived at Animal Kingdom we were warmly greeted and after a short orientation and bathroom break we were off. After entering the park, it was a bit confusing for me to find where I needed to go because of all the construction. I was glad to have Nick and Nora, the pros, to make sure I got to the right place. Once at the starting point, they went over the rules and requirements, then we were weighed and fitted for harnesses. They provided us with water bottles, bug spray, name tags and sunscreen. Morgan and Kelsey were our tour guides.

After everyone was geared up (we had a small group of six guests, yay!), we went through the monkey exhibits and saw the Colobus monkeys and took a group photo. We then wandered through the gorilla exhibit. Since it was a cool morning, the male gorillas were out and quite active. We saw all 3 males and not just their back sides (unusual to get a good look at anything but their backsides). It’s so fascinating to see such large animals forage and one of them played with a bottle he found.

Next, we were fitted into our harnesses and off to the hippo area through the forest. We met Paul, the hippo handler, he fed the hippos and explained that normally males don’t live together but Hank and Hans are doing well together for 13 years now. Hans was borne on the property and Hank was acquired from another zoo. There are two other males at Disney but they aren’t allowed to be with the other males. One is kept by himself (we didn’t catch his name) and Nacho is with the female hippos. Nacho is the second male hippo to have a successful castration. It was interesting to see how well trained the hippos were. When Paul hit the bucket of treats Hank immediately swam over. It took Hans a bit longer to awaken from his nap and come over. He fed them lettuce and watermelon. They are nocturnal, so seeing them being active was awesome. Hippos are herbivores and live up to 35 years.

Our journey continued on to the swinging bridges where we could overlook the female hippos and crocodiles. The bridges gave a great view, if only the animals would have been in the area. The hippos were further up and the crocodiles were at the vet for their annual exam. Also, I went over the bridges quickly because they swayed a lot and the missing planks concerned me. The missing planks were on purpose to increase our viewing field but just made me uncomfortable. (They made all of us uncomfortable! Neither Nick nor Nora like heights very much and those gaps were large even for their long legs!)

After a quick walk through the fern garden, we were at our truck and finally got those harnesses off (they’re pretty hot and heavy) and headed out on the savannah. The first animals we came across were giraffe! They came right up to the truck and we had to stop and wait several times for them to pass. There are two males on the Savannah and one is the father of the other. We learned there are two types of giraffe: Masai and reticulated. Reticulated giraffe have patches that are clean cut while the Masai are irregular and leaf-like. Giraffes tongues are pink at birth but change to blue/black color to avoid getting sun burn since they eat 21-22 hours a day. They take quick cat naps throughout the day and rarely lay down in the wild. However, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they feel so safe and protected you can occasionally see one laying down.

Next, we saw a herd of wildabeast tucked away in a tree cove. They were really hard to see because of the vegetation, but Disney cut out enough of the trees to allow them to feel safe and for us to see them. Before arriving at our lunch spot we saw two different types of antelope, Ankole cattle, and flamingos. At the look out, brunch was served in small tins with jungle juice. The first layer held yogurt with dried cranberries and granola, brie cheese with dried apricots and mixed fruits with a ginger mint sauce. Everything was delicious but the brie and the fruit mixture was my favorite. The mint ginger sauce really made the fruit pop. The bottom tin contained pita, prosciutto and bresola, a salmon wrap on a bed of jicama and cucumber and a fig cake for dessert. Again, everything tasted great but the prosciutto in the pita with some of the jicama was my favorite. I wish I had saved some cheese to put in it too. The lookout gave us a bird’s eye view of the entire Savannah. We saw zebra, rhinos and with some binoculars the lions.

After lunch was packed away, we went back on the Savannah to complete our trek. First stop, elephants! We saw the bull elephant, he has to walk over his own bridge every morning to get to his own private paddock complete with swimming pool. The females and babies are kept separate from the male just like in the wild. The females were grazing and playing with a bale of hay and one of the babies was trying to nurse but the mother was not having it. Next, we quickly drove past the cheetahs since they were asleep and not very visible. Lastly, we saw what little we could of the lions. They were fast asleep and only displaying their hind quarters. Good thing we got a good look at the look out post earlier.

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