Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kruger - Shimuwini Bushveld Camp

It had been a particularly wet spring and summer in the Kruger area. That’s great for the animals but not so good for tourists. Water was easily available so game didn’t really need to travel to the man-made drinking spots. The grass was tall and dense, making it easy to hide. We might spot an animal crossing the road but it was completely hidden by the time we got there.

So this particular morning we got up early and hit the road, planning to surprise some of the night folks returning from their orgies. We found this hyaena, one of a group of four, at 6:30am.

Things were slow for some time. We took pictures of turtles, birds, strange plants, basically anything that caught our eyes.

Kurt decided to turn in to a waterhole. Sometimes you can turn off the car and just wait for the action to begin. In this case, the action was already underway.

There is a rumor that a Hippo cannot lift his feet. All you need to do to be safe is to stand behind a log. Look at the photo of these two battling hippos and tell me that one again.

We had all cameras taking photos and movie clips. It was a bit unsettling to be this close to these very angry monsters. We soon attracted a herd of cars, so we left before the end of the battle.

As we traveled further north the ecosystem changed to less of a jungle and more of a plains system. The grass was shorter and the bushes more widely separated. There are a number of these different environments within Kruger.

We began to see some different animals, grazers as well as browsers.

This is just a giraffe, but the scene is so Africa I simply needed to take it. We arrived at the bush camp in plenty of time to relax before dinner and take a few more photos. We fell asleep to the grunting of the hippos.

The view from our bedroom window was spectacular the next morning – at o-dark-thirty.

We thought, briefly, about going for a swim but the croc was waiting.

Across the river we were able to monitor a continual parade of animals and birds including waterbuck, giraffe and kudu. This waterbuck calf is taking a lunch break.

A group of five male kudu wander through our field of vision. These two made a brief show of sparring for us, then went back to eating.

There were some fun interactions among the different animals. Kind of a “what are you and why are you here” type of exchange.

The next day was time to get up early again because we had a long drive back to Johannesburg and our flight to Cape Town.

One the way out of the park we stopped to wonder at this Baobab tree. It is easily 20 feet in diameter. Who knows how old it could be.

A last herd of animals tried to block our exit from Kruger. These Cape Buffalo – there must have been 40-50 – streamed across in front of the car and disappeared into the bush.

Seeing the most dangerous animal in Africa was a fitting climax to our visit to Kruger. We hope that you have enjoyed our adventures. Perhaps you will be inspired to do it yourselves one day. I hope so.


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