Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tour Day 3

Our second day in the Kruger National Park
View photos for this entry.

Since we had so much luck spotting 4 of the Big Five the day before, I wasn't going to push my luck, but I put it into the universe that I'd like to see a rhino before breakfast, which would bring our tally to 5. That said, we set off down a road on which Pierre pointed out he doesn't usually see a lot of animals, but what he does see is good. Fair enough. Before too long, I spotted 4 of something in the bush. Pierre backed up the car a bit and we spotted 4 buffalo. Before too long, we were literally surrounded by a herd of probably over 200! We just sat there watching them as they watched us. There was not another car in sight for probably 20 minutes. It was fantastic!

Not far down the road, we saw a group of parked cars watching something. A pack of wild dogs, just lounging by the side of the road! We counted 9 dogs, a few of which we only spotted as we saw their tails flicker in the bush, swatting flies. What a sight! We just sat and watched them sleep -- and after all the warnings (they're rare, you won't see them, they're shy), here we were, watching a PACK!

We ended up driving to a rest stop for breakfast, where, while Pierre was waiting for our food, we spotted a rhino off in the distance a bit, across from a small river that ran along side the rest camp. Technically spotted BEFORE we ate breakfast, this guy brought our total of the Big Five to the Big Five! Unheard of in my experience at the park as a child.

Before we left, Pierre spoke to another tour guide he knew at the rest stop who told him of a leopard sighting not too far away. This leopard had made a kill and had dragged the body up a tree. Excellent! Luckily we weren't the only ones who'd heard of this sighting, as I'm not sure we would have seen it without the group of cars to clue us in. This leopard was also a fair way off, but if you listened closely, you could hear the sound of breaking bones as he ate.

Two leopard sightings, two lion sightings. What an amazing time! leopard sightings, two lion sightings. What an amazing time!

That night, as we did the first, Joe and I went on a night ride before dinner. This time we headed back to where the lions were seen earlier (the ones sleeping on the road). This time the whole pride was out. We counted 9, including a few young males and some younger lions (no real cubs, per se, but definitely young). We sat with them for a while as they lounged on the road, and then followed them for a while as they walked up the road. It was so neat to see the matriarch leading the group; when she moved, they moved, when she stopped to rest, they stopped.

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