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Kruger Park

Part two then.

We’d booked a hotel just outside the Kruger National Park and arrived after dark, pretty tired and just went to bed as we had a 4.30am start.

For breakfast we had these guys to keep us company:IMG_1289

One of them decided that doing a danceΒ  whilst his mate stole our apples would be a great idea…

We set off for our game drive about 8am. Yes, we got up 3 hours earlier than we needed to, because the safari company screwed it up and sent the driver to a different hotel… Turned out good though, you’ll see why in a minute.

The Kruger game drive was really interesting, comparing it to the game drives I did in Kenya, the Kruger has much more developed infrastructure. The roads were mostly asphalted, Kenya (well, my memory of it πŸ˜‰ seemed a lot more off-road. Either way, we’d spotted a ton of impala within about 5 minutes and Andrej managed to spot, before our guide did, a giraffe hiding in the bush:

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Ok, so this isn’t the one hiding in the bush, we found a couple of other ones (collectively, a tower of giraffes) with better photos πŸ™‚ We drove through this sort of bush for quite a while, it’s a very different environment to what I expected from Saturday’s drive – I expected greener but apparently SA’s had a really dry year…

These things are called Kudu:DSCF2256

And they taste pretty awesome. Somewhere between beef and venison, we’ve tried them in sausages, as dried meat (biltong) and as a massive barbecued hunk of meat. (Actually, we ate at a restaurant called Carnivore, a kind of all-you-can eat affair with 10 or so different meat(z), including impala, kudu, crocodile and giraffe). Andrej’s eagle eyes spotted this MACH, SA 211

There’s a hippo in there somewhere πŸ™‚ Don’t worry – better snaps coming up…

And again, before our guide could say anything, Andrej spots this guy coming out of the scrub:

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Even my little phone camera could do him justice πŸ™‚ I swear our guide wasn’t really trying…

Easier to spot were these:IMG_1308

I’m so happy to finally have seen some elephant as it’s the only thing I really missed in Kenya. I’ve now seen 4 out of the ‘big 5’ game animals – Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant and the Leopard which still evades me.

In the heat of the day most animals are fairly lazy, and we weren’t expecting to see anything of interest past about 11am (this is why the game drives normally start so early, and why we were a bit disappointed with the rubbish start to the day…). So when we heard lion reports on the radio we weren’t expecting much, and true to form:

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‘Flat like a carpet’ was the way our driver described them πŸ™‚ Still, Lion’s a Lion, right?

Bit more driving around after lunch, and we see some more elephants crossing the road, in pretty much the same place as before. Yawn, seen it all before now πŸ˜‰ There was a lot of them though, and the little baby ones were so cute…

It’s a huge video by the looks of things – Andrej’s camera does full SD video and soapbox doesn’t seem to downscale… apologies if it takes a while to download or eats your bandwidth πŸ˜‰

As promised, some better pics of hippos:DSCF2281

These guys are massive, everyone says they’re really dangerous but pretty awesome. We didn’t even notice the crocodiles at the water’s edge until we got the photo back on a computer πŸ™‚

The game drive was originally meant to be 0530 – 1230 but as we started late the driver let us stay in the park for a bit longer, which turned out to be really fortunate. On the radio, we heard of another lion sighting and headed towards it.

Sure enough, there were two cubs and a lioness sitting under a bush in the shade.

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Pretty cool, but they were sitting around being pretty boring. There was a guy in a car with an enormous telephoto lens taking pics of them who got bored after a short while and drove off. More fool him, about 30 seconds later the cubs get up and start looking at some bushes over to our left. IMG_1353

We can see a couple of kudu rustling around there and the lions have clearly noticed too. Their mum gets up to join them, beautiful slinking through the scrub, and start chasing the kudu. IMG_1348

The kudu appear to have discovered the lion’s dislike of the roads and run across just near our car, the lions disappear into the bush.

Wow, lion hunt πŸ™‚ If there hadn’t been the confusion over which hotel the driver was picking us up from we would never have seen this. A fantastic opportunity to see lions in the wild and lucky to see them so active in the middle of the day.

All in all, awesome weekend πŸ˜€ sorry it’s taken me over a week to get this post up!

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