Thursday, November 22, 2018

South Africa Day 12

Our accommodation just outside Kruger Park was very disappointing and at that point I think we realised why our holiday was so cheap. We were there for three nights and it had air con, but the rest we just dealt with. It is a pity as the bar was terrific, as were the two pools, one heated, and we had more free drinks than we could consume and the food was good. It was run by a husband and wife couple and they were so nice. But, our room was very basic, to say the least. I would rate the room as 1 star. The place itself, 3.5 plus. A lovely Ford Galaxy sat under cover for the three nights we were there.


This is our transport for the day, nine passengers per vehicle. Not so easy to get up into, even harder to get down. The driver and guide was a youngish man whose family grew up in the park, his father having a significant role within the organisation that runs the park. He was a nice guy, very knowledgeable about the wildlife and especially birds, he being a bird watcher himself.  We entered the park using the Malelane Gate. Our guide told us he is usually pretty well waved through, but some federal enforcement officers had taken over the gate for the day and were checking everything and everyone, by the book.


A bird of prey, an eagle I think.


I thought I had taken a photo of a blue bird. Instead once seeing the photo, it is a chameleon.


More giraffe.


I loved the zebra.





Two giraffe together do stand like this, keeping a lookout for any threat.


Someone called out they had seen a tortoise beside the road as we passed by. Everyone seemed a bit doubtful, including the guide, but he reversed back, and sure enough, it was a leopard tortoise. They are not seen very often.


Warthog, a pig in other words.


I had only seen the Asian elephant in real life. The African elephant is huge! Its ears are immense too, and flapping them can cool the animal. Be alert and alarmed if an African elephant flaps its ears in your presence. Dumbo is not happy.


Vultures, behaving with more decency than our Australian financial institutions.


Sleepy. Could we pat him, someone asked.


A kudu.


More elephants in the water.


I am not sure which variety of antelope this one is. We also saw klipspringer, which jump around on rocky outcrops with more skill than a goat. They can jump up over seven metres into the air. Also spotted earlier were steenbok and waterbuck.


It had been a very long morning and it was time for lunch. The couple of places we had been the day before and for morning tea were quite crowded with visitors. It was just a normal weekday. So our guide suggested we come to his club, the golf club that is in the Kruger administrative town Skukuza where he grew up. He told us about his best friend at school who had been visiting him at home when they were preteen. They had been playing Nintendo or one of those such games on the tv. His friend left to walk home and on the way was killed by leopard. He showed us a small memorial plaque in front of the house where his friend lived. About one year later a woman walking in the street was also killed by a leopard.


Some of the wildlife that has visited Skukuza Golf Club.


It was a really nice centrepiece for the table at the club (no, not right. Must have been at the evening barbeque). This safari business is thirsty work. I went to the bar. Here is clip of what I wrote on FB at the time. It was quite funny at the time.

"Come to my club for lunch", said our guide, and we dutifully trooped to the lovely golf club overlooking a river within Kruger Park. "Two gin and tonics", I asked. Sorry Sir, no gin. Two glasses of red wine? Sorry, Sir, only bottles for sale, bulk has run out. Whisky and soda? Which Scotch Sir? I chose one. Sorry Sir, no soda water, but you could have lemonade! Nah, you have beer? He then reeled out the beers. Umm, so sorry, could we just have normal beer. Finally we were at one. The lad knew about normal beer.


Such minor inconveniences are easily explained away by locals with the phrase, it is Africa.


This lion was so funny, asleep with his leg resting up on the trunk of a tree.


Hard to see the kudu within the trees.


This looks like it would have been an impressive bird to show you, but I  missed the head. Unusual feet.

Buffalo.


Less than three metres away. Scary.


A sight once familiar to Queenslanders, burning the sugar cane.


I did not get a a good enough photo, but we saw some impala alert and alarmed, jumping in to the air as they do when alerting each other to a threat. Our guide wondered why. A minute later we saw a pack of African wild dogs moving through the scrub. What interesting animals they are. Here is a photo from World Wildlife Fund.


While the next night would be our last night together as a group, it would be an ordinary style buffet meal at the airport hotel back in J'burg. So, a splendid barbeque was put on for us this night by the hotel where we were staying. Great fun was had by all. I made an effort with the Filipinos, but I did not connect with them. Those from Trinidad Tobago were ok, the women being rather pushy. The Asian people from the US, only one I really liked because he had a great sense of humour. We grew very fond of the Irish lasses, all as different as chalk and cheese, but they were just so great.



Whatever attracted the mass of vultures, not a skerrick of anything was left when we returned some hours later. Australian bankers confess their sins after all meat on a skeleton has been stripped away. 



One minute of elephants doing what they do. We did see one elephant uproot one of those small scraggly trees to get to the roots underneath. A herd of about twenty eventually walked across the road in front of us, including a juvenile and a baby.


28 comments:

  1. Wow you were close to those elephants! Great video of them. I read a list of the worlds most dangerous animals by number of people killed. Lions killed quite a few people, but we here don't think they do, because its in Africa, where we can't really relate to the people so much or what they face. I thought of that list when I read about those two being killed by leopards in your post.

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    1. Strayer, you have your own threatening creatures. Is is cougar that kills people locally?

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    2. A woman was killed by a cougar near Mt. Hood this fall and two men were attacked by a cougar mountain biking in Washington state also this last year, one was killed. So yes, we have our own dangers here. It's still quite rare to even see a cougar however. Rabid bats, which are common, rattlesnakes, cougars, bears....angry deer and elk, during rut, raging wildfires and rivers,.....nature can be hazardous.

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    3. Ah yes, I remember now. And they say Australia is a dangerous place.

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  2. "Vultures, behaving with more decency than our Australian financial institutions"... that is funny :)

    But the poor creatures (vultures, I mean) do have a poor reputation, at least in the English language.

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    1. Hels, vultures just clean up what is dead........or at times what is nearly dead, perhaps hastening on an unpleasant process.

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  3. The Kudu is very well disguised. The sleeping lion reminds me of Angel who would often sleep with two legs up against the back of the couch. The buffalo appears to have the same hairdresser as a certain well-known person.

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    1. River, while there is a huge difference in size, cat behaviour, big or small, is so similar. Bit of a buffalo comb over happening?

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  4. Love the buffalo - and the Painted Wild Dogs.
    And the cats. And well all of it really.
    Snickering at the vulture comment. Which is also true of our self-serving politicians.

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    1. EC, I really wish the wild dogs was my photo. Politicians are about politics. I think worse of bankers.

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  5. The golf club reminded me of a Pub' I used to visit as a student. When ordering a beer, the comical landlord would say "I'm not selling beer today, there's no profit in it", or some such. Occasionally he'd turn all the lights off, saying "I'm making 1p on the beer, and the electricity is costing me 2p". Great Pub'.

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    1. Cro, I almost laughed out loud. I can just imagine him, larger than life.

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    2. He sounds like a wonderful, fun character.

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  6. You saw loads of animals Andrew, enjoyed seeing the lions, elephants and the buffalo.
    I had to laugh at the lack of drinks at the pub, Africa at it's best. What a pity the accommodation at the Kruger Park wasn't the best.

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    1. Sami, funny how everything is explained away by, it is Africa. Sami, the lack of drinks was funny, but an icy gin and tonic would have perfect to go with our lunch. A club lacking basic alcohol and mixers in Australia would be a strange place indeed. Africans do seem to like their beer though. Never a shortage of that.

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  7. Super shots Andrew, love the way the giraffes stand looking like a two headed beast. For all the ups and downs I get the feeling that you both enjoyed the experience, apart from the lack of gin and tonic.. that would never have happened at the Kitwe Club ☺

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    1. Grace, yes we did enjoy it very much and of course it improves in the memory. Haha, your local club. Very un African to not have g&t.

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    2. Nkana Golf Club, was it?

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    3. Ok, I didn't realise you were in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. I wonder how Zambia is going.

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    4. Not so well Andrew. The kwacha, their money, is virtually useless, ordinary commodities scarce, such a shame.

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  8. Despite the accommodation being below par you saw lots of wildlife. No G ad T?. That's a disgrace.

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    1. Marie, we did see lots of wildlife and kind of became used to our humble abode. I can forgive not having lemon for a g&t.

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  9. Wonderful to see some of the creatures you saw. If I was there I would wonder if those elephants would turn towards the vehicles and bump into it.
    Unforgivable not having the spirits and wine you asked for - ok if you like beer though.

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    1. Margaret, the beer was good. There are fines for speeding over 40 km/h in the park and we saw two lots of radar guns being used. You are fined if you leave your vehicle at all. You are told to be very quiet when near any of the animals. So, they don't see vehicles as a threat. They don't actually see the people in the vehicle, just upper bodies and heads and while some looked at us at times, generally they ignored us. We could have been grabbed by an elephant trunk and taken out of the vehicle if it all went wrong.

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  10. Wow the animals you saw ! I only have seen them in an animal park (not allowed to say Zoo here) I am rather surprised that the prices of the company are so cheap because we only had the best hotels even in St. Petersburg, they were always Hiltons, Radisson blu, Ibis and others in the same category. Most of the people couldn't afford to pay the hotel a day earlier when they arrived because the average price for one night was nearly 200 €. And then don't forget you were in Africa and that's not the same standing then Australia. I only had once a very old hotel in York without lift and we were in the 4th floor ! That was rather funny. The wooden floor made an awful voice when we walked on it. But that's fun too. Everything too perfect is boring !

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    1. Gatina, I think any accommodation near Kruger Park is expensive compared to elsewhere in South Africa. Otherwise, the accommodation wasn't bad really. We had creaking floors in London too. Four floors without a lift is not good. You are right. I wrote about what wasn't right, and not about the places that were good or very good.

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  11. Have you heard of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo, Kenya?
    "In 1898, two lions terrorized crews constructing a railroad bridge over the Tsavo River, killing—according to some estimates—135 people."
    There is a movie about it, that was quite good.

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    1. Maribeth. I had heard of that. Leopards learnt to wait at a non monitored border crossing track to pick off their hamun victims at will, and this is still happening. Authorities are worried that the animals will lose their ability to hunt normally.

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Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people? - Audrey Forbes-Hamilton.