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.
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.
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.
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.