Jill's African Adventure
* Etosha, The Great White Place
* Transparent Geckos and Other Cool Critters
* Island Hopping
* Tofo, Mozambique
* The Golden Lion Film Festival
* St. Lucia
* Coffee Bay
* Hiking in Nature's Valley and Hogsback
* Adventures in Oudtshoorn
* Cape Town
* The Problems of Zimbabwe
* Visiting Isabel
* A Day by the River
* Practical Stuff (But please read!)
* The Elephants Don't Want Me to Eat
* Its a Small World (Blantyre and Beyond)
* The Night Bus: From Nkhata Bay to Zomba
December 04, 2005
After island hopping in Vilankulo it was time to leave Mozambique and head back into South Africa. I went to Pretoria, where I met up with David, a British rock-climber that I had met in Cape Town, to go on a safari in greater Kruger Park. (A lot of the land around Kruger Park is privately owned reserve and is known as greater Kruger. There are no fences, which means that all the animals in Kruger proper are also in greater Kruger, but since it is private few people and safari vehicles.)
It began with a long and boring drive from Pretoria out to the park. We met the rest of our group (seven of us in all), had lunch, and then out into the bush. It was wonderful being out in a game reserve again. We started spotting game well before we even got to our campsite. On our way there we saw zebra, steenbok, impala, giraffe, and an elephant. Once at camp we had a little bit of time to settle into our tents and then went out for our evening game drive/walk.
We very quickly came upon a family of elephants. There were quite a few cows and lots of young calves. And they were not pleased to see us. At least, one of the cows really didn't like us being there. There was much trumpeting and raised trunks and a (probably mock) charge. We backed away. Quickly. Our safari vehicle was no match for an elephant and it was a bit frightening -- even Andrew, our guide, was a bit concerned. Once the elephants had calmed down a bit we watched them for a few minutes at a safer distance before doing a three point turn to leave. Big Mama elephant did not like this at all and with a trumpeting raised trunk charged us -- and this was no mock charge. Andrew floored it and luckily, we made it out safely.
After driving for an hour or two we got out of the vehicle and went for about an hour. As far as game went, all we saw was an antelope. The highlight though, was the baboon spider. Andrew had us all gather around a small hole in the ground, stuck a twig down it. And out came a large hairy spider, probably a little smaller than one of my hands, that Andrew allowed to crawl all over his hands and hat for our entertainment. After the game walk we watched the sunset and then went on a night drive. The highlights were seeing a genet and an African wildcat which looked pretty much just like an ordinary housecat.
When we finally arrived at the elephant caracas, it was surprisingly uneaten and there were no animals about. We drove around the area a little bit hoping to spot something interesting, but that also failed. So, we went back and spent probably well over an hour there, just waiting beside a smelly, headless (anti-poaching), elephant carcas. And in the end we saw nothing and had to start the long drive back to our camp.
We drove back out to the main, tarmac road and that is where the fun started. As we were riding along, we saw something up in the road ahead of us. When we got closer we were able to see a couple of hyenas, which we had not yet seen on this safari and which I think are adorable. We drove along a bit further and noticed some other shapes up ahead in the middle of the road. A closer look revealed: lions!!! There were five in total: one adult male, three adult females, and one sub-adult. Lions are truly beautiful, haughty, proud creatures that seem to have not a care in the world. When we first saw them they were all just lying in the middle of the road. One of the females got up and walked into some grasses right by the side of the road -- but didn't go in so far that we couldn't see her. She seemed to be eating the grass. A vegetarian lion, perhaps? At one point the sub-adult got up, walked into the grass and crouched down in a pounce position ready to "attack" the female when she got out of the grasses. Eventually, the sub-adult decided not to pounce and walked over to the male and the two of them rolled around play-tussling for a little while. Eventually all five got up and walked along the road, single file. Alas, the lions eventually went off the road and into the bush where we could not follow. They were probably going off the hunt the buffolo that Andrew had seen crossing the road earlier. All in all, we probably had about fifteen excellent minutes of lion watching.
All the photos here are courtesy of Derek Morgan, a photographer who was on our safari. For more photos, go to his website.
Two more of my favorites:
Posted by Jillian on December 4, 2005 04:03 AM
Category: Southern Africa
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