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5 to 9 October 2008  
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WILD AFRICA

A Baobab tree in the park

Red-billed ox-peckers on a female Kudu antelope

Water buffalo

A Crocodile resting in the sun next to Sabie River

Lots of Elephants in the park. They do a lot of damage to the vegetation.

I do not think this monkey likes me....

(See finger)

Did you know giraffes do not have a voice box!

Not easy to get a drink with that long neck and legs.

Hippos just outside our camp in Lower Sabie

A spotted hyena on the road

Impala. 85, 000 of them in the park.

As common as German tourists anywhere!

A male Kudu

Lion are difficult to get close to.

Rhino on one of our morning drives.

A warthog is down on his front knees (elbows??).

A nice mixture of wildebeest and zebras

Zebra- white with black stripes or black with white stripes?.

 

Cape Town-

These are Southern Wright Whales in front of the naval base in Simonstown.

 

  Updated 10 October2008

 

Eventually we got flights and room in the South Africa National Park Boards camps within the Kruger National Park coinciding with the girls' spring break (remember we are in the Southern Hemisphere) and off we went to Kruger National Park . Kruger park is one of the largest and oldest national parks in the world. It was first established in 1889 and has expanded into an area roughly the size of Wales.

We flew to Mpumalanga International Airport near Nelspruit and had about an hour drive to the park gate. As soon as we entered the gate we started seeing animals. We spent the first night in Satara Camp which is in the middle section of the park. Tthe second day was spent driving 8 hours in the car ending up in Lower Sabie Camp. That drive was the best for encountering animals and the time seemed to go by very quickly. In Lower Sabie we had a hut right on the river and could hear hippos grazing all night. We were safe on the inside of a strong perimeter fence with electric wires keeping the animals out. The camps close the gates at sunset and open for sunrise. We did an organized sunrise drive with an entertaining ranger. The camps also organize bush walks. It all seemed like a calm and peaceful way to interact with some animlals while looking for spoor, however, the day we left Kruger a ranger was mauled by a lioness as he was conducting one of these bush walks with 8 tourists!

Our next camp was Skukuza, the largest camp in Kruger. This is the main camp in Kruger where all the administration is, medical clinic, and helicopters for medical emergencies...the mauled ranger was transferred by helicopter to Nelspruit Hospital.

Our last night was spent in the Berg-en-Dal Camp in the south-west corner of the park. Nice and new accomodations. As we progressed south, the animals were not as plentiful, the more fertile terrain is up north.

All camps have restaurants and most cabins have a small kitchen and a Brai (South African for Bar-b-Q). Cabins are simple without TV, Telephone and the normal luxuries you will find in the private safari lodges, but reasonably priced at about US$80-130 a night for a cabin compared to up to US$800 per person per night in the private reserves.

We did set out to see the BIG 5: Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard. These are called the BIG 5 as they are the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. However the hippo used to be a real threat to villagers (in pre Kruger days) going to get water in river as they NEVER give up the chase....never....We managed to see 4 of the 5. The elusive Leopards managed to stay hidden from our eyes and camera lenses.

Even with this small disappointment it was a good and worthwhile trip. As the gilrs say...we have to complete the Big 5 in one journey!

Well back in Cape Town we took a drive down the False Bay side from Fish Hoek to Simonstown and there were at least 25 whales along the beaches and rocks. Many of them within 150-200 meters from shore... A good ending to our vacation!