Kruger National Park: Day 1 – Part 2 (19-Nov)

At 3:15pm, all suited up in our safari gear we made our way out to the eating area to meet the group we would be with (six people max plus a guide & tracker in each vehicle), meet our guide (JP) & tracker (Sam) & get a quick intro to the reserve & animals. As you might imagine, we were both very excited (mostly to be wearing our matching safari hats!).

We headed out & spent the next 4 hours driving around looking for game. The drives are 3.5 to 4 hours in the morning & 3.5/4 hours in the afternoon/evening. I have my notebook packed so tomorrow I can write down the fun facts JP shares with us throughout the drive. For this post, I’m working strictly from my memory which might not be the best when it comes to animal trivia.

First I’ll start by staying I think we had a great first drive. The impala are plentiful, you seemingly see them around every corner. We also saw an injured zebra. The poor guy couldn’t put any weight on his back left left & had a huge cut on his right side. He was standing in a field all by himself. JP said this was mostly likely because he knew he was vulnerable & was positioning himself to be able to see predators approach. That guy is definitely going to be dinner for someone tonight.

We also saw a herd of buffalo, I kind think they look like George Washington wearing a wig…am I crazy? Wildebeest. Warthogs. Steenbuck. Pretty much the whole cast of the Lion King minus Timon (who,by the way, doesn’t live in this part of Africa).

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When big game is spotted the rangers radio each other to let the other drivers on the reserve know what they are seeing & where. We got that call & joined the two other vehicles to watch two male lions & one female lion. JP said they were about 2.5-3 years old & were brothers (one of the ways to tell their age is the amount of pink still on their nose – as lions get older their nose gets darker). They were too young to be ruling anyone but in a couple years one of the two would likely become the dominant male of a pack (is it pack when it comes to lions? I’m too tired to remember). JP also told us that all lions have what are called following marks. You may be able to see in some of these pictures the black behind the ears of these lions, this is so other lions can follow them in bush.

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We also saw a huge herd of elephants. I don’t know how many there were, too hard to see them all in the trees but there were several babies, just a few days old!, which apparently made the whole group quite protective. Before we came across the herd we came across a pile of dung. JP said it was from a male elephant. Male elephants leave a single pile while females leave a trail. Why? Because females can multi-task! haha

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At sunset we stopped & JP & Sam put together a table complete with beer, wine, soda, mixed drinks & snacks. We got to get out of the Land Rover stretch our legs & watch the sunset while enjoying a drink. Pretty nice!!

We didn’t see any nocturnal animals (except a couple rabbits) during the last hour of the drive. The tracker sits on the front of the vehicle shinning a spot light around in hopes of catching the eyes of any nocturnal animals. JP did spot a chameleon which was pretty impressive at night when he was almost the exact color of the bush he was in.

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We when got back to the reserve they had wet cloths for us to wipe our faces with & drinks waiting for us. We had about 20 minutes before we headed to dinner. I’ll take a picture tomorrow but they have all lanterns up in the outdoor seating area – it was beautiful. Dinner was exquisite. They have a multi-choice, 4-course meal menu. Everything we tried was excellent.

And that wraps up our first day here. I’m sitting in bed right now typing this up – it’s 10pm & I’m utterly exhausted! What an amazing trip we’re having!!!

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