I do not want this to be a long post, but at the moment I am struggling to find a way to keep it brief. You see, The Kruger, as a South African calls it, is huge. How huge is it? It is bigger than the state of Israel. It is the second largest NP after only Yellowstone. It is not a National Park like an American thinks of a Natural Park because it is actually a privately run organization with no government funding. This is true of all the ‘National Parks” in South Africa. They manage just fine. In fact, they are really excellent in many ways. The roads, facilities, camp sites and hotels are really first rate, and clean. Kruger leads the pack in visitor count, therefore income, but the other parks we visited were just as comfortable. The USA could never do this or the parks would be named “Bank of America Yellowstone” or “Microsoft Yosemite”. But I again, digress… Each park has their own rangers and vets. They do a great job making sure that the animals come first, the tourists second. OK, I lost my internal battle to stay brief. This will be a long post, but there will be a lot of photos. So kick back, and enjoy. The reason most people go on a “safari” (the word comes from an Arabic word which means “a long journey”) is to see animals in their natural environment. There is a big emphasis on seeing “the big five”. They are, in no particular order; The Lion.
Second is the Leopard. This was my third safari and the first where I did not see a leopard. So, I have no pricture to share with you, sorry. The third is the Elephant. Elephants in most parks in Africa are quite common. I learned something from our guide Patrick of Southern Eagle Travel and tours, that I did not know before. There are “left handed and right handed” elephants. They use either the left tusk or the right tusk more than the other, and it wears down more. So next time you see an elephant, look to see if he is a righty or a lefty! Next is the now endangered Rhino.
The last of the classic big five is the buffalo.
Now this is an irreverent travel blog. So, I invented a list called the “Boring Five”. They are not boring animals in their own right, it is just that there so damn many of them that after the first few hours you wish your would just ignore them. The most boring is the Impala.
Next on my list is the Vervet Monkey. They share this spot with the baboon. Both are everywhere you go. No need for a photo. You know what baboons look like, congressmen. The next is the hippopotamus.
Last on my list of the boring five is the ubiquitous giraffe. They are everywhere you go, it seems. They sort of just lumber along and eat the tree tops. Big cute eyelashes and all, but boring.
Tough life I have isn’t it. Being able to call these critters boring I mean. Like I said, on their own they are fine. But once you see them on a safari, tell your warden to just motor on and find a damn leopard. I want my big five! That only covers ten of the wild critters we saw in the Kruger. Here is a list of some others, some with photos. Baboon. Blue Wildebeest. They were not really blue. Bushbuck. Cheetah. Mary Ann got this photo.
Crocodile. Duiker. Eland. We actually saw one of these out near the Cape. Kudu. Perhaps the handsomest animal of all.
Mongoose. We saw plenty of these. Nyala Sable Antelope. Spotted Hyena. We saw a mother and her baby on a night time game drive. They mostly come out at night, and they live underground.
Steenbok. Tree squirrel. Yeah really. In Kruger, squirrels. Who would have thought… Warthog. Some people put these on an ugly five list. I think they are cute.
Waterbuck. African Wild Dog.
I have photos of all of these. I took 2400 pictures on this trip. Thank goodness for digital technology. A safari in the Kruger, and private game preserves, is not just about seeing and counting animals. The country side is enchantingly beautiful. The lodges and meals are very good. We saw many people enjoying themselves camping and cooking on open fires. The night skies will make you stand in awe. The South African park system is ready for anyone who comes to respect nature. This trip I had an excellent birder as a guide, and I started enjoying seeing birds as much as the animals. So my next post will be for the birds! +