Mom’s Favorite Critter

Giraffe. 1,000 to 10,000 years old rock art Twyfelfontein, Namibia. UNESCO World Heritage site

The one negative during our trip to southern Africa was that we couldn’t go for hikes. Heck, we couldn’t even go on a stroll because there were too many wild animals running around. We went everywhere in our rental 4WD or a game drive jeep. Most of the lodges we stayed in were in the bush and each place we checked in, they warned us not to stray outside the grounds.

I had to give up the hope of swimming in anything but a pool. If hippos didn’t kill me, the crocodiles would.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

My mom’s favorite animal was the giraffe. Sandy loved them, their patterns, their grace, their impossible heights. I thought of her each time we spotted another giraffe.

Giraffe with hitchhikers, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

The only word I can use to describe this animal is, glorious. They fit all the definitions of the word: The giraffe is marked by great beauty and splendor. They are delightful. They are wonderful.

The pattern on each giraffe’s coat is as unique as a fingerprint. A giraffe moves at a regal pace. And their improbable tallness is suddenly funny when they have to splay their forelegs like a tripod in order to take a drink.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Not being able to go for walks was a small price to pay to be able to see wildlife in their natural habitats. Some of the lodges were built on water holes, and we ate our meals along with the critters. We had the great pleasure of watching giraffes approach for a long drink of water.

time to spread the forelegs
the legs need to be splayed even wider
finally there

Our last lodge on the trip was back in Namibia, and for the one and only time we could actually go for long walks out on the property!

the road sign for the last lodge

Uwe and I were alone and out of sight of the lodge buildings and felt like we had the pampas to ourselves.





We spotted wildebeests, pavians (yuck, I do not like wild monkeys), antelopes, zebras,

and giraffes!

once they spotted us, they kept a wary watch

Later we surprised a lone giraffe crossing the path. When he ran off, there was nothing but the sounds of birds calling and his hooves thumping on the grassland.

My mom would have loved it. Sandy, this post about giraffes is for you.

NOTES: They are notoriously hard to track. Tracking Giraffes ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

10 thoughts on “Mom’s Favorite Critter”

  1. My favourite memory of giraffes comes from a weekend trip to the north of Tanzania when I was working in the SW (Ruvuma). We took in the Lake Manyara reserve, Ngorongoro and part of the Serengeti. It was whilst relaxing in a clearing in the latter area that we were treated to the sight of upwards of a dozen mature giraffes running through the bush doing a passable impression of a motorcycle grand prix. Our guide was convinced and passed to us his conviction of two things: (1) they were running away from something, and (2) we would be wise to emulate their haste. Needless to say, we were in the Land Rover and away well before we could find out what had spooked the herd!

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