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Trip Report South Africa, Kruger Another Day In The Park

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The air is still but already warm as I begin my second day at Kruger National Park. A light breakfast and it is time to hit some more unexplored roads.

As if trying to hide, an elephant stands behind a small tree along the highway just outside of the park. However, his huge flapping ears are a dead give away. Unlike most another animals in the park, the elephants do not camouflage very well.

Easily missed in a discussion about Kruger or safaris in general are birds. It is a mistake to not keep your eyes open for them. The park is filled with all kinds of them. In and out of trees or just hopping along the ground, the birds turn out to be enjoyable to watch.

One bird I am fortunate to spot is the Southern Ground Hornbill which is in the midst of a serious declining population. The Hornbill is on the park's Endangered Species List and visitors are encouraged to report their sightings.

Part of being able to find many of the unusual sightings in the park comes from the exchange of information with others also doing self drives. An approaching car slows down and I am told there is a family of lion cubs about a mile down the road. Although partially hidden behind blades of dying grass, the group can still be seen resting in the shade. I am sure a protective mother is somewhere around and keeping my distance is probably a good thing.

Is that a poor baby impala all alone? No, it's a steenbok that is often mistaken for one. Due to the almost correct assumption that it is dangerous to be alone in the wild, seeing a steenbok often initially draws the sympathy of most park visitors.

Another sometimes loner in the park is the wildebeest. However, when he is alone he has ulterior motives. He is looking for a date.

Even when you hang out in a group like Zebras, it's no guarantee that your back or rear end is covered. One zebra I spot still shows fresh evidence that this can be the case. I guess he is counting his lucky stripes and will have a life long scar to remember his good fortune, at least for now.

Circling buzzards tells me that I am near a fresh killing field but I am not fortunate to share their view of the kill. However, what I do find are the remains of some animals that have previously met their devastating fate here.

Nearby a loud buzzing fills the air, the source of which is known but unseen. Hidden among the trees are wild locusts that give me the feeling that I am on a table saw. Not the most comfortable feeling in the world but the clear blue skies and surrounding scenery makes the experience manageable.

Did you know that impalas play “Ring Around The Rosie”? I am just as surprise as you are as I watch a few of them chase each other around in circles as families of baboons could not be bothered to join in. Speaking of baboons, is there some reasons why they always seem so serious.

Spending sometime watching them I am glad to see it is only an adult thing as a couple of youngsters join in their own version of “Ring Around The Rosie”.

A stop on the highway as I make my way back towards Satara Lodge and discover that I am being watched by one of the ugliest birds I have ever seen. Unlike the steenbok or the wildebeest, it is easy to see why this guy is a loner.

I don't think he gets many dates and no doubt he is a big supporter if not The President of “The Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder Fan Club”.

The sun begins to set as I arrive back at my bungalow and this evening it is a beautiful one across Kruger as it heads west. To catch and enjoy it, I go along the perimeter fence of the park and come across an almost scary surprise. A hyena with a gaping mouth filled with drool is casing along the fence. It passes by so quickly, I only manage to capture it in a flash.

This maybe the beginning of one hunt in the darkness of Kruger National Park.


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