Can you even imagine mountain biking with a rhino…?
Well, unfortunately – of course I did it hoping for the ultimate experience, a beastly encounter that would make the heart drop to the foot and adrenalin force the blood to violently pump – it didn’t happen while on two wheels.
After exhausting ourselves by bicycle through the spectacular Gwahumbe (Saturday morning, 13 December) a favourite private game reserve for a day visit (because of the rugged landscape, and amazingly it’s just over an hour’s dive from Durban), we jumped in to my Jimny.
The climb down to the hippo pool brought us head-on with the rhino. We ensured we kept our distance, and that he was aware of our presence. A non existent exist strategy caused the brain to deal with many jumbled thoughts – in other words, we were trapped. He appeared to be relaxed, and while munching the grass on the edge of the track he glanced in our direction and moved closer and towards us.
I felt my body stiffen, my heart do somersaults, goose flesh ripple all over my body the moment his nose touched, albeit it a gentle touch, the Jimny’s nudge bar. During all the game reserves I’ve ever been to, never had I experienced a rhino that close before. Perhaps it was a good thing it didn’t happen while on two wheels as I’d fantasied over days before.
Eventually we were able to pass the rhino, once he made it down the bank on the other side, and drive on to admire the three hippos wallowing in the algae-swamped pool.
I absolutely still want the encounter to take place while on a bicycle and will definitely attempt it again soon.