Ross Campbell, Rivertop’s Supply Chain and Quality Leader, and his daughter, Kristina, recently returned from an 18-day African Safari. The impetus for the expedition was Kristina’s college course on South African Culture and Historical Study, as well as a biological study of South African Animals. In order to participate, Ross, who intended to “chaperone” the trip, had to become a Buena Vista University student for 3 weeks to satisfy insurance requirements. 30 years after his first college graduation, Ross is a freshly minted alumnus once again!

Overflowing with fascinating cultures, a jaw-dropping array of species and tangerine-colored sunsets melting, Ross took over 11,000 photos on this 18-day adventure. Here are a few favorites:

980x-3“The elephants were some of the crankiest animals, so you learned to keep an eye out for them and be aware if they were heading to cross a road – you never wanted to be in their way. If you remained aware, you would be fine. This one, nicknamed one of the ‘Bash Brothers,’ seemed to pose for the camera.”

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Which animal was Ross’ favoriteLion spotting. Hands down. Luckily, all of his encounters were at a safe distance. The other two vans managed to come across lions right alongside their vehicle during the day. Playing with the lion cubs on the final day definitely made up for that though!

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“The leopard, only 6 feet away, was amazing to photograph – but you were very conscious of the fact that the window was down and he was aware of everything. Fortunately, he gave us 15 seconds of photo time and then very non-aggressively just stood up, turned around and wandered 20 feet further into the jungle and sat back down”.

“You quickly learned to be as quiet as possible when encountering the animals. Rhinos have poor eyesight, but great hearing. If you sit quietly, you can both enjoy the moment. If they hear you, they get nervous and anxious – a bad combination for a large animal with a three-foot horn and a few thousand pounds behind it.”

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When asked about his favorite experience of the trip, Ross (unsurprisingly) had trouble choosing, but eventually settled on their visit to a local school:

“The Nsukazi school was amazing and humbling. School is mandatory in South Africa and is where most children get their only meal of the day. The schools look like fortresses – walled, fenced with razor-wire and guard shacks to protect their little equipment and supplies – and yet the teachers are so dedicated and the students so happy. It was such an honor and privilege to interact with them and watch them pose and smile and sing and dance for us”.

Will Ross ever be going to Africa again?

“They do warn you that no matter how much protective clothing, nets or insecticide you use, very few people ever escape an African trip without at least one bite. The most virulent and common bite comes from an amazingly successful African bug – the come-back bug. I think I feel an itch…”

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