Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kruger –Days 2 and 3

On the second morning we had a Walking Safari. Once again, it was up before the sun and assembled for the short ride in a truck. For some reason… I thought wearing Capri’s and tennis shoes would be good clothing for a walk in the brush. I don’t think very well without coffee… and didn’t put any bug repellant on either, although I Did pack better walking clothes and bug stuff. Not smart! It is the rainy season, therefore it’s also tick season. The ticks here carry a disease, called oddly enough “African Tick Bite Fever”. After a short drive, we get off the truck, and are given some basic instructions and then, immediately start walking through long brush. After about 5 minutes I figure I’m going to have a tick… might as well enjoy the walk and experience. We are already taking Anti Malarial drugs… maybe I won’t have a tick and that will be all good.
(Remember to  enlarge a photo, click on it. Also there are a few different pictures and larger views on my Flickr page
Guides with guns

As we walk along we see some birds… it is so early in the morning
and cloudy that the camera doesn’t think it’s light enough to take pictures. The first animal we hear in the brush is an elephant. One of the Ranger Guides… goes to find it, and then signals for us to come up. Once we get there… and we see where the elephant is… we are ushered quickly away. We had come up in front of the elephant, not off to the side, where the chances of being seen are less. Bull elephants don’t like to be surprised. It was pretty cool, but not much to photograph, since we were hiding from him. Before I forget, our guides were armed with big guns... just incase we run into trouble.

Game Breakfast

As we walked along, we saw more birds, some antelope, a zebra, a wildebeest, a giraffe and 3 more animals in a spectacular setting. As we came from a tree line and looked ahead… we were announced by a pack of hyenas having breakfast. It was amazing to hear them howl, - it wasn’t really a howl. I don’t think I can describe it accurately, but it was so worth the risk of ticks! As we continued our approach, the hyenas continued to object.

Hyenas, Lion and Jackals
When we were about 30 yards out, a large yellow
lump moved. It was a lion. He didn’t stay long though. Got up, look us over and then left. In the meantime, we continued our approach and the hyenas started to move away. In the background were 2 Black Backed Jackals hoping for a snack from the hyenas. The hyenas were upset, but kept about 30 yards distant. Once we arrived at their breakfast, a wildebeest, they started to come back, but still kept their distance.

Female Hyena

A female picked up a bone and came the closest to us, (incidentally she is pregnant too). It was spectacular to be on the ground with the animals. We weren’t in any danger, as the guards were armed. We had a bit of a snack…. Near the hyena breakfast grounds and then headed back to the truck. The walk lasted about 3 hours and well worth getting up early for.

Back at the camp, we showered. I didn’t have any ticks, and that was the good news, but they are microscopic, so I have to keep an eye open. So once again we have some coffee. By now we are using the communal kitchen, where they provide sinks, counters and burners to cook a meal, but all we make is coffee, in a our camping percolator.

Satara Camp

The camp we are staying at is called Satara. It is in nearly the center of the park. From the road, I have a picture of the outside of the huts. They are round with a thatched roof, about 15 feet across inside, with 2 twin beds, closet and sink, there is a shower and stool in a very small space behind a door. The only other fixture is an air conditioner, window unit. Outside is a covered patio, with a table for 2 with

Sitings Board

chairs, a small (not dorm size) refrigerator/freezer and a lockable cupboard for food. The inside of the room is too small to take photos. But very efficient. Our hut is facing a center green area with trees and lots of birds (bird pics later).

South African Scops Owl

We checked the sighting board… to see what folks had seen the day before and what they were reporting so far in the day. The dot colors are, yellow is wild dog, white is Cheetah, blue is elephant, orange is rhino, green is cape buffalo, red is lion and black is leopard. We decided to take a road we had traveled previously… where the lions were having the zebra breakfast, hoping we’d see them again. We didn’t see them, but we did see Scops Owl, on a tree in the parking lot. Not the best photo, but again the day was overcast and he was in the shade and at about eye level for me, so I had to nearly sit on the ground for this picture! He is only about 7 inches tall so not too big.

one of 2 Males in deep brush

We didn’t see too much activity… We of course happened upon antelope, the only animal the Rangers, Drivers and Guides will guarantee you will see. We did see some zebra, elephants and giraffe.
The other male.
But what have we become in a day and half in the park? Cat JUNKIES!! We want to see the cats. And of course we found one. Actually a pair of lions, 2 males; you will often find 2 males living together, but of course one is dominate. These 2 were well apart in the scrub.

We got into the habit of driving slow enough on the dirt roads for me to spot and photograph flowers and bugs. If you drive slow enough to see them, then you will often be rewarded with enough time to scan deeper or further away and see other creatures or birds.

Saddlebilled Crane
This is an interesting Crane. It is the only crane with this coloration, so it is easy to spot and identify.

This bird is only about 2 feet tall, and the color of the grass…. with some black markings. Could easily be missed driving at the speed limit.

Kudu Buck
We also spotted a beautiful Kudu Buck. Another animal adorned with a superb set of horns. The Kudu are big animals, and the coat color goes from a dun color to a grey that really helps them blend into the foliage. I’m not sure if you have noticed in the pictures, but often the grass is beige, many of the leafless trees are grey… so some of the animals appear to be more shadow when hiding in the brush.

While driving slowly we happened upon a small herd of Waterbuck, and I caught these two play practicing. Almost looks like they were posing for me.
Waterbuck Games

A couple of other interesting pictures….

 a walking elephants reflection in a pool,

a view of the landscape,
The brush and trees of the thornveld
and 1 of a huge muddy male lion.

I have noticed that the list of followers has grown…Yeah and thanks!!! … I hope I’m not too boring…. And

As always, More Later!


Sara said...

Great post! I was definitely not bored!! I could "see" it through your words.

Anonymous said...

Again OMG! You are so fortunate and the pictures are absolutely Bee-u-ti-ful! Please keep the pictures coming it's like being there : )

Becky said...

OK. I need to just copy the same comments and post them each time. "WOW! Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing"! hee hee. Seriously, I love the pictures! Have you thought about selling them on etsy or ? The owl is so precious! Looks like an old piece of wood. Great camouflage. Not sure how you spotted it! And the hyenas. I never knew they were so big! I always thought they were like coyotes. Love the elephant pictures. I have a very small elephant collection...mostly batik prints hanging on our walls. Great blog!!!

Exuberant Color said...

I love the shot of the elephant with the reflection. It looks like a great one to enlarge and frame.

Anne Marie - Toronto said...

What a wonderful journey! You're taking your readers on quite the adventure. Thank you for that! Of course, your photos are exquisite, as always. Have you thought of doing a book?

Karen S said...

These pictures are amazing! I love the ones with the lions and hyenas. And the crane. And the elephant. And the waterbuck. And the owl OK -- I love them all!