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KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA 2019

A WILDLIFE TREAT TO MYSELF!

sunny
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NOVEMBER 3RD 2019 ARRIVAL

Hello... South Africa!

After leaving Cairo with a touch a food poisoning I actually feel better! For the first time I can remember I slept on the plane and woke up just in time for breakfast! I even manage to eat some scrambled eggs! Hey if you have ever been thru what I did managing to eat something is a cause for celebration!

After watching a bit of TV it is soon tome to land... Oh Jo'burg Airport, my old friend! I know this airport as well as the Brisbane Domestic terminal
where I work!

It feels so good to be back!

I pick up my bag and head straight out to the courtesy pick up... ummm where is my hotel mini bus?

I wait for a while and a airport porter asks me if I am OK and who am I waiting for, I explain the situation he offers to call the hotel, he sorts it all out for me and I give him a tip as a thank you, at first he declines but well I am persistent!

Within 5 minutes my hotel courtesy van arrives apparently in my rush to get out I walked past my driver in the arrivals hall. He had my name up on a card and I missed it... bugger I have always wanted to do that! I feel so guilty, I should have paid more attention! Hey I am still a bit groggy and in hurry for some fresh air after my not so good Egyptian chicken roll experience!

I chose a little hotel on the outskirts of the city, after traveling from city to city I wanted something away from the noise of the hustle and bustle... no honking horns!

It's about a 25 minute drive and the place is fantastic, all the rooms over look the pool and the countryside beyond! Plus the staff are welcoming and friendly!

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The view from my room!

My room is wonderful, a huge comfy bed, a fantastic shower! It feels good to relax without the chaos of the city.

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My Wonderful Room!

After a shower and a nap I take them up on the offer of the food delivery service. I am not sure I can stomach much but I seem to have held down breakfast... so I chance it!

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A nice spot to have dinner!

I sit outside eat listening to the sounds of well... nothing but nature.

After a small dinner I watch the sunset and then head to bed. I feel like I have slept a lot in the past 24 hours, so I try to watch a some TV but I crash out.

I am being picked up early tomorrow morning... I can't wait!

NOVEMBER 4TH 2019 DAY 1

I am up with the sun and so hungry! Yeap starting to feel more like myself this morning!

Still a bit weary it's a breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs, nice and safe!

I am the last to be picked up last and the van is full there is 5 of us heading to Kruger. I am so excited I can't wait to be out in the 4x4 in the African wildlife!

The drive is long but the countryside is beautiful! After we stop a service center for coffees and supplies it's back on the road. We drive thru small towns, the sprawling grassy farms turn into lush green hills.

We stop for petrol in this little town and have tome to stretch our legs for a bit.

Making our way thru a deep valley we follow a river lined with quaint little tourist villages advertising fly fishing. These little villages are so typically Afrikaans, they settled here and made little communities for themselves. Signs advertise homemade boerwurst and biltong.

The farms turn into private game parks as we follow the base of the Drankenburg Mountains. I doubt that these are game reserves, our guide notes warn us against visiting certain reserves because of their captive breeding programs. Sadly South Africa is known for it's hunting farms.

The town we drive thru on the outskirts of Kruger is busy. It is mid afternoon by the time we turn off to head towards the Park and we pass private game reserves the boarder Kruger. Vervet Monkeys scramble in the trees, Impala appear behind large fences as we leave the township behind us.

We finally arrive at our accommodation for the next 3 nights. The Bundox Safari Lodge.

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And here we are... finally!

The lodge is nestled in the bush. The long hot summer has taken it's toll, the little lake is not even a quarter full. The trees and what little grass there is, is dry and brittle.

I have opted for the the camping experience, but my fellow travelers, who think I am crazy sleeping in the bush are glamping it at the lodge, while their trip includes a day trip to the Drankenburg Mountains and hiking, mine has an extra full day in Kruger and so I happy to camp in the bush.

Hey I am a girl of simple means, I actually love camping!

We are greeted by the lodge owner and once signed in I meet Johannes our driver and he he shows me around the camping area. The facilities are fantastic.

Our dining area overlooks the little lake with a full on kitchen which I am not allowed to enter, he says this is the chefs domain and I am simply to enjoy myself... umm OK!

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Relaxing dinner view!

The facilities are fantastic modern, clean and I have them all to myself! They have this rustic safari vibe with canvas doors and huge showers.

My tent is a short walk from the bathrooms and tucked away in the bush, it is permanently set up... yes no tent construction here! I have the choice of 2 beds and little camp stools outside overlooking the dry river bed

Johannes warns me that a Leopard was wandering thru the camp last night... I can only hope!

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Sorry about the blurry photo of my accommodation!

I have all this to myself, 3 days of peace and quiet with only the sounds of the African bush... for me this soothes the soul!

After dumping my bag and getting my day pack ready I head off to the pool and make use of the free wifi.

Slowly the others emerge... the 2 guys are mates from Ireland and a father and daughter from umm... Canada I think!

They ask if I am scared to sleep in the bush, that is a big 'No'! I remember the rules Darlene and Victor gave us when camping in the bush...

"If you hear noises close to the tent stay inside"... "If you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night shine your torch light around first if you see glowing eyes stay put until whatever it is is gone"... "If there is an animal in the vicinity stay put and don't use your camera flash"

See no problem!

Our driver Becca arrives she is quite young and full of energy. We are heading off for a sunset drive to a private reserve so we leave our lodge and head out onto the main road. The drive isn't long and we turn off to the Ballile Nature Reserve. The rather wealthy owner has kept it as a reserve but has sold land for people to build holiday homes... awesome! I want one!

As the dry bumpy track takes us thru the reserve I am smiling from ear to ear... Ahh the African wilderness how I have missed you!

Our first sighting is a small herd of Impala, they look at us in shock, but don't scatter... those lashes!

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Hangin with friends!
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Such a pretty boy!

The first timers chatter excitedly, I actually envy them a little, there is an amazing feeling of wonder that overcomes you when you are in the wilds of Africa for the first time, the expectation of the first sighting . Then seeing these fascinating creatures for the first time... this continent bites at your soul and leaves a mark. You are forever changed and enriched by the experience!

Kudu graze in the sparse dry trees, stopping to stare at us as we stop.

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Young Male....!
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... and nervous females!

We stop at the local waterhole, it is not even half full, the rains are late again this year. We get out to stretch the legs, while Becca sets up a table with some cold drinks and snacks. There are all sorts of treats, but I stick with a drink, even though I am tempted by Biltong, but I still don't trust my tummy after that bout of what I now call 'Cairo Belly'!

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Setting up for sunset drinks....!

I head down to the shore line to explore and she warns us about Hector the resident Hippo... he is barley visible just a dark lump in the water, he isn't going to make an appearance anytime soon! He is a lifelong bachelor and has made this little waterhole his home for as long as the owner can remember, he has just always been here!

Egyptian Geese wander the shore, it is pretty quiet here this evening, but a perfect spot to watch the sunset!

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Egyptian Geese!

A lone Wahlbergs Eagle eyes us from it's perch as we chat around the truck, it is a nice way to get to know each other, everyone seems really nice!

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A rather handsome Wahlbergs Eagle!

This seems to be the only patch of water in this dry sandy reserve and apart from the birds and Hector, I wonder if all the chatter from our first time safari-ists is keeping some of the shy animals away... shhh you lot!

The sky turns that beautiful golden African yellow as the sun begins to set, the dry landscape takes on an eerie ghostly feel. We pack up and head back to the main gate!

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Ahh there's that African sunset...!

When we reach the top of the hill the landscape lights up again as if someone switched on the lights, Impala scatter into the under growth as the truck approaches.... they are so skittish!

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Will you stand still just for a minute!

A family of Warthogs stop and stare as when we stop, they aren't usually so brave, normally they would take off with their tails in the air and hide, but this bunch don't seem bothered at all, they just continue to forage on bended knee in that weird way that they do!

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Well aren't you a pretty girl... if your a male Warthog!
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What's that Warthog saying... a family that forages together, stays together!
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"You still here... Tourists!"

The sun has almost disappeared from the horizon as we reach the gate. A Giraffe appears on the side of the road but is so well camouflaged the others don't even see it... beginners

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he last glow of dusk!
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Best sunsets are African sunsets!

Just as we are about to leave the dirt road three Hyena are bounding along the fence line of the neighboring reserve, their eyes glow in the headlights, one of them dares to glance back at us before they disappear into the bush... WOW what a way to end the evening.

They have everyone excited and the chatter continues as we drive back to camp. Back on the main road the wind whips thru the 4x4 and unlike the others who are a little under prepared for the chilly African night air, I am glad I packed my jacket!

We pull into camp and Johannes is their to greet us, he introduces himself to the rest of the group as he is our guide and driver tomorrow. He is actually very shy behind that big smile.

I follow him back to camp and he tells me dinner is ready in 1 hour... OK so I drop off my gear, clean up and head back to the dining area.

Emmanuel is still pottering about in the kitchen so I pop my head in and ask if he needs any help and I get a stern no... "please, you go sit down and relax" OK you're the boss!

I insist on helping Johannes set the table, he accuses of me of being stubborn, yeap, your not wrong there!

Dinner is a home made burger, with proper chunky chips and fresh salad, it is huge how am I suppose to eat all that! Hmm will my stomach take it this is the first full meal in days. Johannes notices I am picking at my meal and is worried I don't like the food, I tell him about my unfortunate situation with the chicken sandwich in Egypt... his expression becomes wide eyed and all he can say is "You've just been to Egypt!"

And you know what... I realize how lucky I am, I have just been on one amazing trip, that some people will never do and I kinda forgot about that in the past 2 days of feeling sick and sorry for myself.

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Homemade Burger and chips, how lucky am I!

We chat endlessly not noticing the time passing, and I actually ate more than I thought I could! Yeah for Egyptian pharmaceuticals!

He is actually surprised by some of my questions. "You have been here before!" and I tell him about my past trips to this amazing continent. He is quite amazed, and believe me that is not easy to do with a wildlife guide considering what they experience on a daily basis!

The conversation continues during the washing up, Emmanuel is not used to the guests helping with the dishes, but past Intrepid trip chefs have taught me well, everyone pitches in!

With all the chores done, I thank them for a wonderful meal and head off to my humble abode.

I sit outside for a bit enjoying the sounds of bush... OK I am hoping to animal out roaming, maybe that Leopard will return....!!!!

Oh well wishful thinking! After an hour or so I head to bed...

Tomorrow we head into the world famous Kruger National Park!

NOVEMBER 5TH 2019 DAY2

Up with the chirping of birds... don't miss those car horns! The sun is still coming up and the sky has a lovely purple glow.

A quick shower and I grab my day pack, which I sorted last night, yeap I am that excited, hardly sleep wink!

I meet Johannes an the meal deck and the coffee is ready... what service!

Two cups later we head to the truck and I get the front bench seat to myself, no one else wanted it, being the last passenger on board has it's bonuses, as unbeknown to the others I have the best seat on the truck, no one to get in the way of when you take pics!

Before we leave Johannes hands us a box each, breakfast, there is so much food there is enough for lunch as well!

Off we go! It only takes 10 minutes to get to Orpen gate on the outer rim of the park.

It starts to rain, a little sprinkle, but I am so excited, I am in my happy place... the African bush!

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Here we go!

On the long straight road to the check in gate our first sighting is a lone Giraffe, he is wandering thru the sparse trees, we stop to watch him stretch to the tree tops to pluck the only green leaves available.

It really is good to be tall when it is this dry. Let's hope this morning drizzle helps a little!

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First sighting of the morning!

When we get to the check in point there is already a queue of 4x4s, some of the visitors look like they all shopped at the same store, "Safari Are Us"... !

We get out to stretch our legs, the rain seems to have settled in, I here complaints from some of the other 4x4s, are you kidding, this landscape can use all the water it can get as the rainy season is late this year... besides a little rain never hurt anyone!

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So it's raining we wont get wet... have roof!
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Yesterdays sightings... Hope today is just as good!

Cheeky little Southern Yellow Hornbills hang around the trucks, unfazed by all the people and their constant chatter.

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Right by my feet!
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Show off!

Such funny things, kinda weird looking, but great entertainment while we wait for our driver!

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The original Angry Bird...!
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Hanging about!

As soon as we leave the gate we stop, all I heard Johannes say is Leopard... excitedly I scan the roadside... Oh a Leopard Tortoise is making it's way slowly across the road!

Sorry buddy we didn't mean to disturb your travels!

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Morning stroll!

We are only 20 minutes into the park and a Bull Elephant is on the side of the road, amongst the thorny bushes. He eyes us when we stop but continues chomping away happily.

Using his trunk to strip the branches... how does he chew on those thorns... they have to be the size of sewing machine needles! OUCH!

Apparently the skin in their mouths is very tough and they equipped to digest twigs, bark and those thorns!

He is very content ears flapping slowly, all you can hear is the breaking of twigs.

We leave him to his breakfast and as we leave it starts to really rain, good this landscape needs every drop, we haven't driven 15 minutes and another lone Bull is enjoying a leafy brekky!

The rain doesn't bother him at all, he just blinks the water away too interested in his food!

On the other side of the road are group of Giraffes are wandering thru the bush, stopping to strip leaves with those weird long tongues of theirs. They fascinate me, such beautiful faces on strange shaped bodies... how can something so tall blend in so well?

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It pays to be tall in the wild!

They stop and eye us cautiously before continuing on, not making a sound when they walk! In fact the only sound we hear is the rustling of the trees.

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The youngsters!
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Here's looking at you!

Our Elephant is munching away, the cracking of branches is the only noise he he makes. It is quite amazing how they use their trunks! Especially since the bush he has chosen is covered in thorns!

We let him enjoy his not so leafy feast in peace!

We stop at one of the Camp and rest stops, there is a convenience store and a coffee bar so after grabbing a guide book and latte I jump back in the truck.

I will admit I am a little impatient waiting for the others... let's go people wildlife awaits! ... Finally!

We head out thru the gates and we are officially in Kruger NP, and if what we have seen so far is any indication, we are so going to have an amazing day out!

It is so dry, the little rain we had this morning just evaporated away.

Amongst the sparse trees another Elephant is stripping what little greenery is left on the spindly trees, it seems content!

A little further a long more Giraffe stride a along in that nonchalant way that they do stopping to snack!

They are the lucky ones.

His long tongue tears at the juicy top leaves, munching away without giving us a thought!

Kruger seems to be an Elephants playground. We stop to watch another lone bull right on the side of the road.

He watches us thru the thorny bushes, long eyelashes droop of dark wise eyes. I wonder what he is thinking as he stares at us... Probably, "What you never seen an Elephant eat before... Humans!"

We don't stay long and even the sound of the truck starting doesn't bother him!

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Good Morning!
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That's some prickly breakfast you have there!
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You look like your enjoying yourself!

We come across another herd or I should say "Tower" of Giraffes, on a leisurely stroll. One or two stop to look at us with mild curiosity, their sweet faces always look like they are smiling. How can something so gangly be so beautiful!

I always smile when watching these lovelies, they are so delightful... yeap delightful is a great way to describe them!

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Who's watching who?!
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Those tourists again!

Not even 5 minutes down the road and Johannes stops suddenly, which isn't that dramatic as we weren't going very fast!

He points to the left, oh an Impala ummm... that's not an Impala, "no, no that's a Sharpes Grysbok... and before he can even finish the sentence they disappear into the scrub.

Oh yeah they are much smaller and less graceful than the Impala... Oh wow that's a first never seen one of those before!

I try to get a photo, but they are so skittish and quick... maybe a blur of copper! I guess we will wait and see!

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Sharpes Grysbok... so I did get a pic!

High in the trees overlooking a desolate clearing Johannes has stopped Vulture sits surveying the landscape!

His huge body supports an out proportionate small head, and I must say not the most handsome fellow, at all!

His head twists and turns, as he patiently scours the landscape for his next meal.

I consult my guide book to confirm... Oh it's a Lappet Faced Vulture!

They may not be beautiful but they are natures clean up crew, so they have a vital role in this wilderness cycle of love, their love of dead flesh prevents the spreading of disease, so they get a thumbs up from me!

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A Lappet Faced Vulture... so um, yeah I wanna say handsome!

It seems to be Elephants day out! It must be all the trees, they certainly know where to find food!

Not even 20 minutes has passed and yet another is wandering along towards the truck! Ears flapping slowly and silently! It still amazes me how such a large creature move about so quietly, only the sound of rustling grass under their feet!

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Hey there buddy!
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Coming closer...
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... for a chat!

He comes so close you can see every crease in it's sun baked skin and every wrinkle around those wisdom filled eyes!

He just stands there and stares at us, the only movement is the curling of that massive trunk!

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If they could speak...
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... wonder what they would say!

I never get tired of watching these amazing animals, you can see character and expression in every one of them!

Johannes points to our right, there is a second one standing among the sparse bush.

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OH That face!

His ears are completely flat, and it makes him look cheeky, with wide eyes and the tilt of his as if he is studying us.

I can't help but giggle he looks so mischievous, I swear he is smiling, having a laugh at the silly humans!

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You look like a mischief maker!
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Are you laughing at us!

We round a bend and there laying out in the open is a Spotted Hyena with her cub!

She just looks up stars at us, then surveys their surroundings! The cub is quite large, it senses a change in Mums mood and looks up.

The cub pushes itself up on it's front paws, it's nearly as large as she is!

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Sensing our presence...
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... she checks out the surroundings!
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The young copies Mum...
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... she just can't truly relax!

Mum lays back down, and tries to close her eyes, but the fidgeting young one doesn't give her a moments rest! Mum relaxes, or tries to a mothers work in never done and she has to continually adjust herself for the young to feed!

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Finally the cub settles!
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But a mothers work is never done!
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She keeps an eye on her young one...
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... always vigilant!
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Children...!

Hyenas always seem to have this sleepy look on their faces. She looks... well so tired, I am guessing Mums everywhere can relate!

Wow what a sighting, Kruger you don't disappoint!

I love Hyenas, but they get such a bad rap, they are quite fascinating, just because they aren't the most beautiful animal, but they have a hard life!

Their packs have a strict hierarchy and if you or your cubs are at the bottom of hierarchical system then everyday is a struggle. the alpha female, her cubs and allies feed first with lowest barely getting scraps. Cubs of the lower ranking females are bullied by others of higher standing. It isn't an easy life for most of them.

They seem to have these perpetually sad faces, that make me... I don't know I feel for them, I have no idea what it is about them, but they are always on my list of "want to see" I like them!

Johannes starts the truck and tells us we are going to stop for a coffee break soon.

Soon a large male Kudu appears, we actually hear him before we see him.

He is stretching up to eat and the branches crack from the force at which he tears at the leaves. He is massive! A fully grown male with 3 full twists in his horns, that's how you can tell he is a full grown adult.

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Quite a handsome fella...
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... aren't ya!

I forgot how huge they are, this one is a handsome fella, the signature white line across the top his nose...

He just ignores us and goes about is morning.

We drive to a fenced in picnic area, and the sign says it all, but Johannes warns us anyway, "not to wander outside the fence", yeap got it no problems there!

The warning sign makes me chuckle... "Dangerous Animals" well it's true but, hey if I get to see all of them I would feel so blessed!

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Yeap... No Worries!

In the far distance Giraffes wander thru the trees, what a great place to stop for a break, you can't beat the view!

The sun is trying to break thru the clouds, burning the grey morning away.

Burchells Starlings hang about, not shy about hoping for a morsel or two.

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Does he look angry to you!

We don't stay long and leave them to fend for themselves.

We drive for about an hour but we don't see much of anything out on the grassy plains.

So Johannes takes us to Satara a complex of shops, restaurants and a petrol station. The place is busy tourists are everywhere in their safari attire, whatever people!

I grab a coffee and sit with my amazing packed breakfast and watch the plain beyond the fence. I am kept company by some little feathered friends, Burchells Starlings with their beautiful glossy blue feathers that shine in the sunlight and Go Away Birds with their cute little mohawkes!

I really want to hear their call, these are the birds that warn of a predator presence, apparently their call sounds like they are saying 'Go Away!' Hence their name! Haaa guess there's no danger here!

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Please don't 'Go Away'!

On time I find Johannes with the other drivers, it takes a while longer for the others to arrive... finally!

We head sown the road passing our lone Giraffe from the break spot, he doesn't seem to have moved much, content in his shady grove.

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Hey gorgeous...
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... your still here!

We turn and head deeper into this amazing reserve, I still find it unbelievable how everything survives in the harsh dryness! We stop to watch a herd of Impala scatter at our arrival.

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... and off they go!

The plains start to stretch out before your eyes, standing in the long ivory grass trying to get some shade from the spindly trees is a small herd of Zebra. They stare at us for a while and then ignore us.

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"Oh humans... again!"
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"Hmmm why are they always staring at us?"
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"Does my bum look big in this grass?!"
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"If we ignore them they might go away!"

While we are watching them the radio crackles and a chatter fills the airway. A Cheetah has been sighted on the side of the road not far from our location.

Johannes drives as quickly as he can, Kruger has very strict speed limits. He is chatting with the other guides and he turns and tells us it has turned of to the right and to keep a sharp look out as it could be in the bushes.

But we have missed it, another truck stops, we were only minutes away, and it is gone!

I will admit my heart sinks, they still remain elusive to me and my camera!

But a few minutes up the road he stops, reverses a bit, what is he looking at?

OMG a Leopard is fast asleep tucked in tight! All you see is the slow rise and fall of that famous spotted belly!

The pattern is so distinctive, we are so close, the last time I saw on it was way up in a tree int he Serengeti and even with binoculars it was difficult to see!

Please lift up your head so I can see you in all your gorgeousness!

Johannes says it's belly is full and resting after a meal, don't blame it in this heat.

How did he see that? and how does he know it has just eaten? Their knowledge of the wildlife amazes me!

I am mere meters away from one of the worlds most dangerous cats, they can rip it's prey to pieces in a matter of seconds and your wont even see it coming and here it is sleeping like a house cat curled up in a ball! Awwww!

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Sleeping Leopard!

We let it sleep, nothing is going to wake up this sleeping cat, who doesn't love a nap after a good meal!

Kruger is teaming with wildlife, especially Elephants, and we watch another one while it munches away!

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Crunchy!

Leaving the grassy plains behind we drive down into a wooded valley, large leafy trees begin to appear, herds of Blue Wildebeest and Zebra roam thru the little forest trying to stay cool in the midday heat.

Blue? The Wildebeest are named by the color of the tuft of hair on their necks, it looks more grey to me, maybe whoever named them thought blue sound more exotic... who knows! Still think they are funny looking!

These grazers stick together, they may seem like unlikely friends but there is safety in numbers and we have just seen one of there nemesis, OK it was asleep under a tree but they are out there and they get hungry!

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Catching some shade!

Driving out of the valley the low hilly landscape turns to dry grass and we follow a a dry river bed, and how Johannes found her is beyond me...!
A lioness is sleeping under a tree, she has one paw stretched upwards resting against the trunk of a tree.

She blends in so will the the ivory colored grass. What a stunning lady she is. No matter how many times you see a Lion you can't help but be in awe of their majestic power, that is one huge paw!

OMG there's two of them, it took me a while to figure it out, I mean, I know cats are very nimble and can twist into some weird positions but it seemed strange, they are laying back to back one is hidden so well behind the other it is easy to miss!

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Is it me or is she twisted around in a weird position!
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Wait is there another one there?!
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Yeap there's two of them!
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The size of that paw!

We drive further along slowly, searching the landscape, and we find 2 more resting under a tree, their dark tipped twitching ears giving them away!

Their backs are to us and they don't even bother turn at the sound of the truck. The sound of engines idling must be so familiar to them.

In the distance a lone male is asleep under a tree, his spot gives him a protective overview of his pride, how many others are hidden in the bushes out of sight from passing vehicles?

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Hidden away so well we nearly missed them!

We come to one of many man made waterholes it is dry and nearly empty only a few small puddles remain.
There only 2 residents here, standing at the pools edge is a very proud looking Brown Snake Eagle his feathers puffing out with the warm breeze.

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A very regal Brown Snake Eagle

Watching over the water hole is a White Headed Vulture, a lot less regal and well quite creepy looking with it's beady black eyes and small albino head on that large body! Quite menacing as it twists it's head to look at us!

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White Headed Vulture!

As we continue Vervet Monkeys scatter amongst the trees screeching out warnings of our approach, noisy lot!

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Watching you buddy!

Another grassy plain opens up and of herd of Waterbuck females stand shyly still as we slow, they are pretty!

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Ladies!
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It's those markings, someone put paint on the toilet seat!

The male is feeding in a thicket and looks right at us, eyeing us before continuing to eat not as worried about us as the ladies!

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One Male for... quite a number of ladies!

Just five minutes down the road a lone elephant has found a waterhole, we watch him dig content in his work!

I ask Johannes why he is digging as it seems a waste of water when it is so scarce!

He is digging for fresh water as the pool is to stagnant and dirty, we watch as he pushes his trunk down into the soft earth using it like a straw,
clever boy!

Not far away in a clearing is the hugest Elephant I have seen in Kruger standing right next to the road flapping those giant ears just trying to keep cool in the heat.

It has been in the mud, we are so close you can see the dried flakes on the wrinkled skin. You can help but stare, I wonder what it is thinking as it watches us silently.

You see every crease on it's ears and the long lashes around those wisdom filled eyes. What stories it could tell!

I am in awe! It is sightings like these that makes me love this wild amazing continent even more!

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Just chilling.....
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Oh how magnificent you are!
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Even my little 45m zoom can get a close up!

We stop for lunch at one the large camping grounds in the reserve. When I say camping ground it is more like a small village, with shops, restaurants, cafes, a petrol station, accommodation of all kinds is available!

I sit under a tree and and watch the grassy plain on the other side of the fence as I eat my lunch. Bright Blue Burchells Starlings hop around my feet, I sneakily drop a bits of apple left over from my lunch, I hope Johannes didn't see me... YEAH I know don't feed the animals! Birds don't count!

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Lunch Buddy!

Back on the road we are making our way to another waterhole, we pass another herd of Impala.

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Pretty little things, aren't you!

The afternoon heat is sleeping time for most mammal, especially the predators, but I still hope to see them yet!

The man made waterhole has 2 visiting Elephants who have taken over, as they rule everywhere they go. The Zebras are cautious and stand back patiently waiting their turn.

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Some Relief from the heat!
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Sneaking in!
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Big Boys!

It is quite entertaining viewing, every time the Zebra think they can sneak in for a drink they get chased off, you can't help but laugh!

I do feel sorry for the Zebra though, I wouldn't mess these guys especially the big older fella. Even the younger asserts his dominance learning from his older companion.

Wildlife entertainment!

The afternoon air is starting cool as evening sets in, it is time to head back to camp.

Under a scrub of bush on the edge of dry pain is a small family of Southern Ground Horn Bills, for an endangered species there sure is a lot of them around.

They are weird looking, but it is a good thing their numbers are increasing even the weirdos need saving.

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The weird looking Southern Ground Horn Bill!

On the open plain a small herd of Greater Kudu try to seek some shade under a small tree. Umm I don't think it's working ladies!

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Not a good idea to eat your sun shade!

Sadly we turn onto a road that is taking us back to camp, but we still have a few hours left to enjoy.

Giraffes wander thru the trees picking at leaves as they serenely and elegantly stride by.

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Pose Perfect!
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"Hmm should I?"
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Slim Pickings Here!

They are always a wonderful sight! Well for me anyway!

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Natures Elegance!

We stop at a dry river bed a herd of Elephants are making their way to the only mud hole left. We sit and watch as adults and young ones come to splash about.

We stop and watch them looking down into the gully, it is an amazing sight!

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Making Their Way To Water!

They are creating chaos as they splash about covering themselves in mud. Natures sunscreen and insect repellent all one!

The little ones are boisterous and so adorable! One young one is trying to get a drink from a hole that one of the adults has dug and as it approaches gets a telling off!

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Family Fun Time!
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Getting Crowded!

When there isn't enough water even in a tight knit family like this tempers flare! The sound the older one makes is loud and piercing!

Poor little fella just wants to drink.

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Aww The Little Ones!

Watching them is a fantastic experience, I could sit here all evening contented, I swear I am coming back!

After the rains of Africas wet season the difference must be an amazing sight!

Sadly the truck engine comes to life and it is time to head back to camp, we leave the herd to their mud bath fun, I swear there is nothing cuter than watching baby Elephants play!

We leave the green valley and amazing sweeping views open up, from up here it looks deceptively green looking down on the tree tops.

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Greener Than It looks!

But as we make our down the harsh dryness is apparent. The wide river bed is bone dry, no wonder the Elephants argue over time in the water!

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The Dry Reality!

We stop at Satara the entrance camp village, people are milling about everywhere. It is nice to stretch the legs.

A Bushbuck wanders thru the grounds, such delicate little Antelopes with their decorative spots, like they were lovingly hand painted.

They are shy and skittish keeping their distance while trimming the gardens trees for their dinner.

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Cute Little Bushbuck!

It is time to leave, we make our way back to Orpen Gate Blue Wildebeest graze on the side of the road, seeing them up close I notice that they are stockier than there whited bearded cousins, just as awkward looking!

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Blue Bearded Wildebeest!
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"You think I'm funny looking, look at your reflection lately!?"

As the clouds slowly thicken the dusk air turns cool we come across this massive Stork, black and white with a bright yellow stamp on his long red and black beak, what an oddly good looking fella!

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Saddle Billed Stork!

He is flapping his wings and strutting about his head bobbing back and forward, he is trying to attract a mate, you can't help but laugh at his little show.

He has this wonderful little red heart shape on his chest feathers and when he opens his wings they are massive. he is a handsome sight!

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Do A Little Dance....!

But sadly the females are nowhere to be sen and his efforts have gone unnoticed, except by us, better luck next time buddy!

As the sun sets the drive home becomes quite chilly. It is dark by the time we get back to camp.

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Another Golden African Sunset!

I head to my tent to freshen up before dinner. I head to the deck and dinner is already on the table, the hugest plate of home made pasta and salad!

Johannes and I sit and eat, I ask him a million questions about today and our wonderful sightings, and he patiently answers them.

The poor guy has worked hard all day and now he has to work during dinner, I apologize, but he dismisses my apology, and begins telling me why he loves his job, he doesn't want to do anything else. Being out in nature for him is the best job in the world. It is never boring! There is always something to surprise him!

I understand and totally get it and in a way I envy him.

I admit I can't eat everything it is just too much and I find myself apologizing again.

After helping Emmanuel with the clean up we sit have a cup of tea and chat some more and to my surprise I find out tomorrow I have the truck to
myself, the others are off for a day in the Drankenberg Mountains, this is the reason I chose to camp I get another full day in the reserve...
and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Taking a second cup of tea with me I say good night and head to my tent.

I sit out on my little camp chair watching the stars. It is so peaceful listening to the sounds of the night birds sing.

I finally settle into my bed with the sounds of the African night sending me off to sleep!

NOVEMBER 6TH 2019

I was awoken last night to hear rustling outside my tent and in the distance I heard to soft rumble of a Hyena. I dared not opening the zip of the tent but lay there smiling hoping it would get louder, I would love to hear them have a full on chuckle, but it was short and then there was silence!

I don't know how long it took me to fall asleep but I am up with the rising sun.

It doesn't take me long to get ready and coffee is ready on the table when I get to the deck. Johannes is ready when I am and so I quickly gulp down my coffee, grab my day pack "Lets go!"

In the truck he hands me my breakfast bag and off we go!

We sigh in again, Orpen Gate is crowded, but by 7am we are thru the gate!

OMG we are not even 10 minutes down the road and a large pride of Lions are feasting by by the side of the road! They are so crowded together you can't count them all!

What a sight!

And the noise! Grunting, growling, you can even hear the tearing of flesh and the snapping of bones, I know that sounds gruesome, but hey the circle of life in the wild!

I and stunned! I truly thought I would never witness such a spectacle, it is like watching a wildlife documentary!

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Just when you tink Africa can't surprise, it does it again!
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Feasting Lions!

Hidden in the bush is a huge male Lion his massive mane is tinged with black. He sits back watching the group feast, they get what's left after he has had his full, he is the boss after all! And what a stunning boy he is too!

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Hidden away, but watching closely!

Nestled in you can just make out a white Lioness, her white coat is such an amazing contrast to the rest of the pride, I wish she would look up but the meal has all her attention.

Two young males look up as another truck pulls up, their manes a just tuft of hair around their necks, but those golden eyes!

One of the Lioness gets up and walks around the pride giving the cubs space to get closer, she is stunning. She greets some of them with a rub of the head. The family dynamic of this group is astonishing!

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Family Interaction!

Hidden and very well, is a second large male, he is looking straight at us thru the bushes, he is lighter in color the the first male, does that mean he is younger?

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A second male...!

I look for the other male but he has moved while we were watching the pride feed, finally I find him, he has moved deeper into the bushes, so well camouflaged you could easily miss him all together!

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There he is the first large male!

It takes some time but I find the other one, only because the movement of him sitting up gives away his location, it is no wonder they are such efficient hunters, you would never know they were there until it is too late, natures camouflage!

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Now you show yourself!

The pride moves around changing positions around their kill. Suddenly a white cub appears... Where did you come from? It is seeking out a closer spot, finding one it settles in and continues to eat.

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White Lions, WOW!
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So unbelievable!
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You can't even tell what they have caught!

Suddenly a scuffle breaks out between two Lioness, they growl at each as they nudge and swipe one another. The sound sends chills down my spine.

The settle down and as they all eat tails flicker, their ears are flat against their heads they don't even notice the barrage of on lookers too focused on the meal, it could be a while before the next one so they make the most of what they have.

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I love the paw in the air!
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Unsatiable Appetites!
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Those golden eyes don't notice us at all!

The feeding frenzy begins to slow down as bellies become full. Some of the mature Lioness just sit up and begin to groom themselves, they are so close to the roadside you can see the blood stains on their faces.

The young males and cubs are still making the most of the meal, I wonder how long this meal will sustain such a large pride for, not for long I am guessing!

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How Amazing!
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The Frenzy Starts To Subside!

The large golden mane male gets up moves a little closer then sits back down again when the larger male gets up, and he is massive!
All muscle!

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Here comes the Alpha!

Johannes tells me that it is a sign of respect to the Alpha from the younger male.

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I can see why he is the boss!

He moves silently past the feeding pride some look up to acknowledge his presence, he just strides by and then plonks himself down under a tree almost disappearing in the long grass!

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Just strides by.....
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Not a care in world....

What an unbelievable start to the day! I am almost saddened at the sound of the engine starting, but it is still early and there is so much more to explore!

As we pull away another 4x4 takes our place!

I am still awestruck when we arrive at Satara, my mind is racing by what I just witnessed. I mean WOW!

I grab a coffee as one is never enough early in the morning and I am back in the truck before Johannes eager to explore! Don't want to miss a thing!

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Well someone has seen a Leopard!

20 minutes out of he gate traffic is halted, we have to stop at a Zebra crossing, I know it is such a clique, but I love it!

One of them just stops in the middle of the road looks at us as if posing for the camera but probably thinking "Damn Tourists"

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Zebra Pose!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 05:21 Archived in South Africa

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