Kruger National Park: Day 4 – Part 2 (22-Nov)

We were extremely lucky this afternoon to have JP, Sam & the landy all to ourselves. Before we even got in the landy we saw a warthog with 4 little babies running around on the front lawn of the lodge. Like the deer, this mama figured out that the lodge was a safe place to keep her young.

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JP is super knowledgable about all the birds in the bush. I’m sure if you’re doing this all the time you learn but I’ve been quite impressed with his knowledge. He knows every bird we’ve seen (a couple that we only saw for a few seconds & he said it could be one of two things) & all the calls. The frogs & toads too. We’ll hear different frogs or toads & he’ll know what it is. He also carries a book so he can pull it out & show us a picture if we were unable to see it.

Like I said earlier we were extremely lucky to have the drive to ourselves. JP asked us if we would want to do some tracking on foot if there was an opportunity. Obviously we were both in. Soon enough the opportunity arose. Sam spotted 4 rinos, that started to run away as soon as they heard the landy. This was our opportunity to get out & track – I honestly didn’t think that we’d be tracking rinos on this trip. JP gave us a quick rundown of what to do/not do when we were tracking & how to walk to make the least amount of noise. We followed JP but Sam was giving him direction on which way to walk based on the wind. Rinos can’t see very well but have a great sense of hearing & smell. JP carries around a small container of baby powder that he uses to test the direction of the wind.

So we were off on a rino hunt. We were walking with our backs to the sun so if the rinos did look up towards us they would be looking into the sun & most likely not be able to see us. JP led us to our first stakeout, where we stopped to look & listen. JP & Sam were able to locate where the rinos were based on the sound they were making eating their food – pretty much the smacking of their lips. Very hard for untrained ears to pick up on this. After walking for a bit we found a good spot right near a clearing to stop & wait. JP was pretty sure the rinos were going to walk into this clearing…and they did. We got to watch them for a few minutes before they moved on.

JP & Sam restrategized & made a plan to hopefully catch them at another nearby clearing. This time we were sitting & waiting for them…and they came. We were actually a bit too close/visible so Sam was snapping his fingers at us to get better cover behind a bush. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures (we didn’t want the camera shutter to alert them) but Pete did take some videos (like I said before I’m going to attempt to make a video of all our clips). The winds were swirling at that point & the it seemed the rinos kept getting a whiff of us – they kept looking up. And finally became weary enough to run away. Rinos will run if sense something is up, whereas elephants & buffalo will try to check things out.

We walked out & back to the landy. Pete & I kept saying what an amazing experience it was. And it really was – very hard to top!

The day just kept getting better! After the amazing rino tracking experience we came across a bunch of zebra – they aren’t as populous as the impala but there is a lot of them. Then we found the brother lions we had seen on our first day. If you look at the previous pictures, you can see how full their bellies are compared to earlier in the week. These guys must have had a feast!! A full grown lion can eat 70lbs of meat in a single sitting. Well what they do is make a kill, rip it open & eat all the organs first – going for all the protein first & fast. Then they eat until they are full. Rest a hour or two & go back for more until whatever they are eating is gone. In lion packs the females will usually do the hunting (obviously not for these two) because they are quicker. And yes they do let the males eat first once they have made the kill. Well not really let, they know that the males will bat/paw them away if they try to eat first.

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JP joined us for our last dinner It was nice to chat JP. He’s been a ranger with the company that owns the reserve for 9 years (on 3 different properties) & will soon be retiring. We were lucky to have had him. Again, dinner was amazing – ALL the food on the reserve was amazing! As was the service. Everyone aims to please all the time!!

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