Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kruger Park, what a place!! This weekend I headed off to South Africa to check out the world famous safari park with Ryan, Cortney and Guillon. We were amazed by what we saw. Before we even got through the main gate we saw a herd of 30 elephants come down to the Crocodile River for a drink. I had seen elephants in zoos before, even ridden one at the Shrine Circus as a kid, but it is something else entirely to see a whole herd of these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, it was stifling hot on Friday and a lot of the animals were hiding in the shade for most of the day. However, we were told that by 4 PM things should pick up again. Sure enough, at 4:01 we began to see hordes of animals…rhinos, giraffes, elephants, antelope…it was incredible!!! We chanced upon a watering hole where a pride of lions were chowing down a giraffe that they must have killed about two hours previous. We sat and watched the pride for about an hour as the head male kept feasting on the carcass and the other females relaxed by the edge of the pool. We even saw the three little lion cubs play fighting and climbing all over their mother.

Then, out of nowhere, a huge bull elephant came stomping out of the bush right in front of us and scared all of the lions away. Apparently, elephants are quite disturbed by the sight and the smell of blood…or maybe he knew the giraffe personally and was taking revenge!! We had to rush back to our safari camp because they wanted all vehicles off the roads by 6:00 PM. I can understand why because on the way back to camp we were constantly stopping for animals that were crossing the road. One elephant even stood in the middle of the road and blocked our path for a few minutes. Made for great pictures!!

The next morning we got up at 5:00 to get an early start on the day. We saw a beautiful family of giraffes leisurely walking across the plain. I must say that giraffes are truly incredible creatures (although, regretfully, I did not wrestle one John). They are SO tall and their movements are very graceful. I could watch these peaceful animals for hours. We explored many other sections of the park but it is difficult to see any big game during the hottest hours of the day. We did, however, get a chance to see a large elephant pushing over a tree with his trunk to get at the roots, an awesome demonstration of the strength of these huge animals. We also came across another watering hole where a bunch of impalas and baboons were casually drinking, ignorant to the fact that three lionesses were watching them from the tall grass. In a scene out of Discovery Channel, we watched as the lionesses sprang forth and attacked the pack of impalas, scattering them in all directions. All of the impalas were able to escape the attack but the lionesses did not seem to care as they now had the watering hole all to themselves.

That night we took a sunset safari drive with one of the local guides who was able to explain to us a bit more about the wildlife in the park. We were able to use our spotlights to search the trees for illuminated eyes and came across hyenas, jackals, bush babies, elephants, water buffalo, rhinos, lions, kudos, and wildebeasts. We then spent the rest of the evening sitting outside our safari hut, drinking cheap South African wine and listening to the calls of the animals. You couldn’t help but feel part of the awesome nature that surrounded us.


Blogger jpmozambique said...

This must have been a fasinating experience Jared. I'm sure those images will be etched in your memory for ever.

You did stay in the car didn't you????

Love Mom

9:22 p.m.  

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