Kruger National Park: Day 2 – Part 2 (20-Nov)

After a nice long nap, Pete & I ate lunch then sat by the pool & went for a swim. On the way out of the hut on our way to the afternoon game drive we saw these little deer hanging out. JP said that they hang around the camp all the time; they’ve figured out that it’s a safe place to be. No lions looking for lunch.

We started off the afternoon seeing a few giraffes & lots & lots of impala – they are everywhere. They have just started having their babies so there are little ones all over the place. We encountered a few buffalo lounging in some large puddles. We also pasted a lion skull that JP stopped to pick up & show to us. The canines were already taken – to have lion’s tooth is so much cooler than a shark tooth :).

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Then we had another Big 5 spotting. We came up on four Rinos – white rinos to be exact. There are black rinos as well; despite what the names lead you to believe both species are the same color. The difference is in the shape of the head & jaw line. Also white rinos are bigger; a full grown bull weights 2.5k tons whereas a full grown black bull is only 1.5k tons. These guys were quite weary of us. They kept running away when we would drive closer to them. When any one of the Big 5 is spotted (or any other more rare sighting) the guides radio each other so if anyone else is in the area they can come see.

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On the way to our evening stretch our legs & have a drink stop we run into a HUGE herd of buffalo. JP estimated that there were 200-300 buffalo. It was quite a sight. The buffalo are also calfing (it is spring here!) so there were quite a few little guys in the herd. JP explained that there is no “leader” in a herd like this. There are a few that are “pathfinders” but they by no means rule the pack. This herd will break down into smaller groups of a male & several females. I forgot the name but JP told us some English author wrote that “buffalo look at you like you owe them money” & it’s true. Look at that stare down. Also check out the guy with the seriously deformed horn.

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Everyone in the landy jumped when a lion popped up right next to the landy on the side of the road. He was literally laying right next to the road & we didn’t see him until we were right next to him. He had a look at us, then got up & found a nearby tree to lie under. We watched him for a few minutes. He didn’t want to pick up his head but I did manage to get one good shot when he did. I wish I could have captured it in a picture but I didn’t have the right angle – there was a group of impalas hanging out right across the road from this lion. Pete & I were hoping that he’d get up & attack…no such luck.

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We were all started to get a little worried that JP wasn’t going to stop until it got dark for drinks…but it turns out he was heading to a “special” spot where guys from the camp had setup lanterns, a place for us to wash our hands & a bar complete with appetizers! It was really nice!! The dusk sky was gorgeous from this location.

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20121125-214941.jpgOn the way home we didn’t see any nocturnal animals. Lots of impala & a few wildebeest but nothing else. You only see the animals for a few seconds when Sam initially hits them with the light. After that he avoids shinning the light on them because it can wreck their eyesight.

We had dinner as a group, including JP but not Sam. JP’s, our guide if you didn’t already pick up on that, wife also works her. The guides & trackers work on for 6 weeks then off for 2, with one rotation a year being 7 weeks & 3 weeks. All the staff (I think) live here on the reserve but many have homes somewhere else too & travel to them on their off weeks. Everyone here is incredibly friendly & is constantly going out of their way to do everything/anything you want/need. For example, every night when we are at dinner them come to our room & light candles. They also do our laundry for us…which is nice.

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