Last day on safari

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
Trip End May 21, 2013

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Sunday, April 7, 2013

It turns out that our last few outings were just as memorable as the others.  On our last night outing we ended up running into the same herd of elephants that we had encountered the previous day (which was especially handy since our camera had died the last time we saw then). This time our ranger was able to drive us right into the middle of the herd, it was quite a thrilling experience to get to watch them eating and wandering about just a few feet from us. It was especially thrilling for our tracker who found himself face to face with one of the younger males. Luckily he didn't flinch, though I think we did see a few beads of sweat on his face. Soon enough the elephant bored and moved on to eating a nearby tree.

After leaving the elephants, our tracker spotted some fresh leopard tracks on the road and we began to follow them. After a ittle bit they veered into the forest and both our tracker and ranger got out of the vehicle to try and find it. About five minutes later we hear a loud yelp and then a lot of laughing. It turned out that our ranger was tracking the leopard and came within a few meters of stepping on it before he realized that it was lying in the grass. The yelp turned out to be the colorful swears of our ranger after which our tracker started laughing at him :)  We were able to get a lot more great pictures as the leopard weaved inbetween the vehicles.

We ended the night with a lesson on constellations in the southern sky. Since there is so little light pollution in the Kruger, the night sky is just ablaze with stars. It's unfortunate that our camera couldn't capture it, but you could see thousands and thousands of stars with the naked eye, including the glow of the Milky  Way itself. I had never seen the night sky in such a pristine place.

The following morning we were set to leave, but ranger modified the schedule a bit so that we were able to go on one last drive. Most of the drive was uneventful until our ranger smelled something in the air. The rest of us soon smelled it as well and it was unmistakenly a rotting animal corpse. While most people would take this as a sign to move in the opposite direction, we instead turned the vehicle into the bush to find the source. It took more searching then one would expect to find the source of such a strong smell, but when we finally did we were greeted with a hyena feasting on a kudu that had died the previous day. Even though the kudu still had plenty of meat left on him, the hyena was loudly crunching away at some of the bones, easily snapping them with his powerful jaws.

With that it was time to leave the wilderness behind and head back to the city. After a three hour drive and a three hour flight, we landed in Capetown ready for the next leg in our trip.
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