Trip Start Jun 14, 2011
70Trip End Sep 21, 2011
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It was another early early morning and the stars were still glowing as we rose and got dressed. As we dragged ourselves down from our treehouse Andrew greeted us with a good morning and a truck pulled up. There were 2 other couples in the rover who had been picked up from other lodges and our driver Clyde. He handed us blankets and pulled down the plastic flaps on the side to protect us from the wind and we set off to a full day at Kruger national park. The park is roughly the size of Texas and the animals are plentiful and wild. We got to know the couple with us, one from Melbourne who had just began their 7 week journey through africa and they were delightful. The second younger couple we got talking to said they were Canadian, from just outside of toronto a place called Burlington...lol the world is a small place, the live pretty much down the road from us on the boarder to Oakville/Burlington and go to the same gym, shop in the same shops, it's crazy. Arriving in Kruger we stopped at a little shop by the gates and the best part about this place was that they had a capuchino machine!!! It is very difficult to get brewed coffee here and we have been making it on instant, and for a coffee lover like myself that is a challenge ;0) I totally savored every gulp as we entered throughout the park gates. Our ranger was very knowledgeable and the shared a lot of information with us. We found out that the private game reserve we had visited in the more highly recognized reserve in the world. I was not sure what to expect from Kruger itself as someone told me "oh its just a paved road and not that great" I could not believe that someone would say that after entering the park myself. This place is Magnificent and thank goodness there is ONE paved road through parts of the park, trust me you don't travel much on this one, but you go on the small sandy bush tracks throughout the giant savanna. The animals are completely wild and it is the largest reserve in the world. There were not a lot of people in the park, there were some anti poaching rangers as that is a huge problem in the park, and a couple f photographers who were patiently waiting for that one picture. One had been sitting for hours on the side of the road watching an eagle who had killed a mongoose and was desperately trying to get it up to his nest but it was too big. He was waiting for that perfect shot when the eagle finally got it. It was beautiful. We watched him for a while before we moved on . We saw many many different species of Antelopes, including theImpala, steenbok, Dukier, Bushbuck, waterbuck, Nyala and Kudu, we even spotted one very rare sable Antelope he was beautiful. The horns on these animals are incredible. We saw the very small klipspringer and the oribi. Many many zebras and giraff's of course and a plethora of birds and Ostrich. about an hour and half later we stopped at a camp for a packed breakfast. We had coffee , yoghourts sandwiches, eggs and fruit and the sun finally started to warm us a bit as we were freezing. after our short break we headed back on the truck and into the bush. We drove down small sand roads into the middle of bush and passed watering holes and you never knew what would pop up from the grass or block your path. We saw a black backed jackal , lots of bush pigs and warthogs velvet monkeys and baboons. Lots of baby giraffes and got to see many of the small 5 that they kids had been wanting to see (the babies of the big 5) . We came upon one watering hole where a whole herd of Elephants were drinking, they are something else. Elephants should not be in zoo's they are such a tight family they all need to be together. They protect each other, they take care of each other and they listen to their matriarch. They mourn for a long time at the loss of another elephant and they hold gathering to say farewell to the departed. They were all drinking and spraying water they are a sight to see these guys. Soon they were joined by a large group of Burchell zebras. One Zebra was bleeding heavily from his back leg and limping, she had been the victim of a lion's attach but she had escaped, barely but still alive. Clyde was sure that there must be a lion close by and we drove a bit further into the bush and somehow he spotted the faint vision of a mane though the grass and we pulled to a stop. Maija tensed again as we got closer and closer to the lion and he did not look to impressed with our presence. we were close, really close and clyde whispered take your picture cause I think we better move on. We admired him for another moment and as he still seemed hungry we left him be! Clyde has eagle eyes, he spotted just about everything, he was totally amazing. At one watering hole we ran into another herd of elephants, this one even larger than the first one. The babies we completely submerged in the mud pools and the mam's were spaying water hight up in the air showering the hot herd. It was like out of a national geographic movie. Just below several large crocks lay baking in the now hot sun and turtles swam along the edge. Over to our right a whole bunch of hippopotamus lay half submerged in the water and birds were staining on their backs and heads. It was truly amazing and if I could bottle those few moments I would.
A large group of baboons crossed the road and one big one was missing a leg. Lots of little babies scurried along and some on their mothers backs, they are amazing but clyde swiftly warned us, hold on to your belongings, you never know when they will attach. baboons are not all that friendly apparently :)
We eventually found our way back to the paved road and headed to the edge of the park where there is a restaurant. There is also a board where you can map sightings of animals right next to it is a board with pictures of poachers traps and animals caught in those traps (meant for the rhino) it was truly disturbing. And we were all feeling sick about how anyone could do such a thing...on the inside I could not help but thinking however, I have seen poverty, I have seen the hungry children and the revolting conditions and shaks that some of these people live in, I can not blame the local tribesmen who are usually the contracted poacher who only gets paid about 1000 ran for a rhino, the ones i blame of the wealthy as holes who use the rhino horn for their pleasures and the ones who keep these wild animals as trophies or pets or buy them on the black market like trophies. There are still private "underground" clubs that will trap lions and then release them on a small property for hunters to kill and so that they can get a photo holding up their lion. What is wrong with people. I can not remember who it was who said it right now but there is a famous quote that goes something like " you can judge a nation by the way it treats it's animals" How true that is.
We had some lunch and then we were back on the drive again. We saw two more lions which was amazing and we just missed a pride of 6 lionesses and their cubs feasting on a water buffalo. There was not much left of the buffalo other than the head and some ribs. We saw so much, I can not being to explain it all but to give you some insight Kruger park is the home to about 147 mammal species , 500 different bird species, 114 reptile species and 49 fish species, 34 amphibians and 227 butterfly species! Kruger is undoubtedly the worlds greatest game park and it's praised for its endeavors in nature conservation and safeguarding the african heritage. Over the past few years, fences that used to separate Kruger from neighboring reserves have all been removed allowing the wildlife even greater access to natural resources. It was an amazing day and the kids were troopers alertly making it thought another long but spectacular day.
When we finally headed back we were all so tired, but somehow the excitement rolls over you again when you get back to the lodge and you re eager to listen to stories and share your own adventures of the day. Up at the lodge bar two little bush babies have made their home and the kids coaxed them our for a bit and took some pictures they are adorable (they fell in love with bush babies after watching madagascar) Jonas and I enjoyed a drink and had a quick shower before we joined the rest of the group by the fire for dinner. It was amazing food a usual and I actually had wild boar pie! When we re were heading out there were 6 zebras grazing the grass by the lodge pool, it was hilarious we had to try to navigate around them , one spooked and it just graciously jumped over the fence and out into the trees. This place is a wonderland. The air was calm and warm the moon was bright and we decided to move the bed outside again. we rolled it out on to the deck and all four of us laid there listening to the sounds of africa.
Mikael was out in no time and we carried him into bed and Maija I think just felt a bit safer in the tree house, that left jonas and I holding each other under the stars.
Thursday Sept 8th 2001, Pezulu lodge.
I slept the best I have slept in years. Maija joined me in bed just before sun rise and the two of us watched the moon give way to the sun and the birds waking up. There are lots of them! we heard the las howl of the hyenas as the sun broke and we were just amazed. Jonas was very tired and grunted and grabbed pillow and climbed in to maija's bed inside and Mikael joined Maija and I out on the deck. We played spotting games and listened to the birds and tried to spot animals. The giraffes did not come to the watering whole this morning but here was plenty of other activity. Finally after about 3 hours or so we headed down for breakfast...and shorty after Jonas joined us. He had not been able to sleep very well with all the sounds of the bush last night and he was still feeling a bit tired. it has been a very early schedule every day.
As I am sitting here on our parch typing a herd of large wildebeest's just chased two zebras across the field and stopped for a drink at the watering hole, can you even imagine. Right here?! Today is our lazy lodge day and I will enjoy every moment of it....
The kids spent a lot of time in and by the pool and Jonas and I went for a long walk around the lodge, we had to do it at our own risk as there are a lot of wild animals around here including a buffalo that has been know to cause some trouble, but we returned safe and sound. The kids gathered around the second story bar around 4 30 to see the resident bush babies pop their heads out and I have to agree with them they are very very cute. We had some drinks and chatted with our new found friends and then we got ready for dinner. Tonight our tables were set up differently that the normal circle around the fire and we had been separated into groups with our names on the tables, it was kind of nice to eat just the four of us for a change, the dinner was again amazing. Earlier in the day we had received a call that our luggage was on its way here, but then we had had not heard anything further, however during dinner a car arrived and a poor driver had driven the bag out here for 7 hours and now had to drive 7 hours back. It took just over a week to get our bag and it was a mess (thank you Quantas) it was broken in every place possible, but the contents seems to be in tact. We signed for the bag and finished out dinner. Maija and Mikael were beat and we came back to our amazing tree house and they both just crashed into bed (again). Mikael really wanted to sleep outside but daddy Jonas needs to get get a good night sleep so perhaps tomorrow night . We are getting up early again as we booked another game drive in the a.m , but this one leaves much later at 6.15 am so not too bad. In the afternoon we are going to the Maholoholo rehabilitation centre at the base of the Drakensberg escarpment where we will finally get to see the black rhino.