Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Day 68: Polokwane, South Africa-Kruger National Park, South Africa (14 November 2009)

Well, the storm had come and gone and the tents were still standing, so that was a good thing! We woke up at 6:30 this morning to the scene of a very heavy storm with the outsides of the tents drenched but we were dry as a bone on the inside! We got ourselves up and had a lovely brekky of Jungle Oats So Easy, South Africa’s version of instant oatmeal. We had banana and toffee and chocolate and added peanut butter and oh my goodness they were delicious! Like a warm reeces peanut butter cup and a warm banana dessert!

After a cup of tea and the wash up of the dishes, we were on our way to Kruger National Park! We attempted to go to a small game reserve first but unfortunately it was raining a bit and the reserve was closed since they were afraid of the cars sliding into the animals. Lucky for us, this is the only time so far in this whole journey that weather has been a factor at all in our holiday plans. So, in lieu of the reserve, we hit a shopping mall to get some food for Kruger and we had a bit of a wander around and picked up a few of our South African favorites for the road (two boxes of rusks and some Braai salt) and then we headed to Kruger! How cool is that! We were actually going to Kruger National Park in South Africa-I’ve wanted to go here for as long as I’ve known it existed!

We arrived at Kruger and pitched our tents after having a bit of a shopping spree at the tourist shopping and 200 US dollars later we were on our way to find the animals! After the instant game drive on the way in and setting up of camp, dinner was being made and we were already booked on the night drive for tonight, the morning one tomorrow and the sunset one tomorrow night, as well! On our drive this afternoon we found a pride of lions who had just recently killed a giraffe. Now, we learned in Etosha that one lion could not bring down a giraffe as a giraffe could kick from all sides. In order to do it there must be at least five lions in on the kill. We saw a giraffe lying with it’s head in the water and the pride of lions all around just guarding their trophy waiting to eat and attempting to keep the hyenas at bay. It was altogether gross and amazing at the same time-this is nature at its best. Game, game and more game…bring on the safaris!

This campsite wasn’t too far from the ablution and was right next to the fence and what you may ask was on the other side of the fence…oh, good question…well, how about hyena just wiling away their evening on the other side of the fence from where we slept (just another thing not to tell mom about as it’s happening, right?) Yohan made dinner and it was delicious but sadly we had to eat and run to catch the night drive! Dinner was mushroom caps with cheese, baked potato, chicken and veggie schnitzel all on the braai and it was really great!

We walked our way to the front of the campsite and were there at 8:04 and the night drive left at 8:00pm…we missed it and boy were we mad! Jerrit felt terrible so he ran to the gate to try to catch the truck but missed it too. He was however able to get to the gate and have security radio to another truck who came to pick us up and brought us to meet the truck that was on the night drive so all was right with the world! Of course, when we met up with the truck there were three hyena in the road so our truck had to turn around to meet the doorway of the other so we could just shuffle across without having to go into the road as that would not have been safe at all! So, we did it; a night drive…and what an experience! You were in a big open air truck with flood lights on the side that were operated by people in the truck shining them from side to side to see if they could catch a glimpse of an animal or the sight of their eyes. We saw so very many things including the lions with the giraffe kill that we had seen this afternoon driving in (and the stench was even greater now than it was this afternoon), zebras, giraffe, elephant, lions and more. When searching with the bright lights you look for red eyes for carnivores and green for vegetarians…of animals that means! We were on a hunt for Lenny the leopard and with all the eyes out there we are sure we saw him in the midst of it all! Now that would mean we saw them all; the big five of Africa…check! It was so cool to shine the lights and see hyena not in The Lion King. Although I have to say that hyena are a bit disconcerting when they are working and scavenging and walking alongside of the fence next to where you’re sleeping!

Anyway, we came back from the night drive all aglow and in awe of what we had seen; stopped at the ablution block, walked past a scorpion and a giant ant the size of a child’s hand and got to our tents where we set our alarms for a three o’clock wake up for the morning drive…when in Kruger!!!!!

Tomorrow: more of Kruger’s best!

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