Wednesday, April 14, 2010

African adventure, part IIb

I have a few minutes now to add an update on the adventures in Kruger National Park. We had arrived late in the evening, almost being shut out of the camp site, but with some luck and a large dollop of looking like possible lion food we had been let in.

The next day we rose around 4am, ready for a morning walk. We started off in an open sided truck, heading off in the pitch black to our starting spot, intercepting the hyena (posted here) before arriving as the sun was beginning to lighten the sky and it was no longer too dangerous to walk around.

With our two guides we had a briefing session, were told to walk in silence (sadly one of the others on the walk ignored this important point, probably scaring off a lot of the animals) and in single file behind the two gun-wielding rangers.
From K's album:

The walk lasted a couple of hours and for the first five or ten minutes, the idea of being out in the wild, with rhinos, elephants, hippos and lions on the lose was quite an intimidating one, but once we got into the rhythm of walking the alien sensation went away. Along the walk the rangers pointed out a large variety of animal tracks and droppings, with which we could identify rhinos, elephants, a few different antelope and more. For a while we tracked a herd of water buffalo but sadly they got wind of us before we found them. A few water bucks stared us out for a short while and a herd of zebra found their way into our path, but nothing terribly dangerous showed itself while we were walking.

Finally we took a break on a rock, overlooking a small waterpool where a male hippo was taking a break after its night time excursions, coming up and going down to cool and take air every few minutes. A lone croc was also in evidence but the two lay in the water calmly as the day heated up
hippo head hippo ass
We were back to the camp by about 9am and made our move South to the next site where we would spend the following two nights, Lower Sabie, one of the most popular spots and one of the best for seeing wildlife.

The trip down was our first day of driving in the park and we saw a huge number of interesting animals on the way, from a pack of lions, hiding from the heat under a tree, to a dozen giraffes munching by the side of the road, baboons and macacs, and lots of elephants through the day.
baboon scratching
Just next to the lower Sabie camp we also found an artificial dam, which had plenty of animals cooling off. We spent some time photographing the pelicans, the hippos and the crocs in the distance before noticing that there was a crocodile just a couple of meters from the car, waiting for someone stupid enough to put a foot outside the vehicle. My hanging out of the car with the camera had probably got its attention but thankfully it didn't get any closer!
Around the base of the tree in the very largest version of this photo you can make out the resting hippos:
tree reflection
The croc, just waiting to get a bite:
OK, enough for now, I still have a large number of photos from the park to go through and the processing takes quite a while. Tomorrow I hope to update with some strange behaviour from pairs of giraffes, antelope on the run and a night time excursion into the wilderness.

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