More lions and leopards

Trip Start Aug 13, 2010
Trip End Aug 29, 2010

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Flag of South Africa  , Kruger National Park,
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This morning we woke up at the crack of dawn (6 a.m.) and got dressed to go on a game drive from 6:30 until 8:30ish. We met our group at 6:15am for coffee, hot tea and toast before the game drive. We noticed that the vervet monkeys kept trying to come to the place we were eating. When we finished, one of the monkeys jumped on the table, put one muffin in his mouth and two in his arms and then ran away. We laughed and laughed!

We jumped into our jeep and right from the start, our driver Colbert told us that we were going to be looking for a pride of 15 lions.  We were off to a slow start, so we took a road that Colbert said that he would only take once a month because it is so old.  We had been driving on the road because it is a good spot to see leopards, so when another driver radioed our driver through the radio in the land rover that they were looking at a leopardess and her cubs, we quickly sped up.  We kept going straight on the road hoping to see the leopardess, but no luck, and no one had found the pride of lions yet.  We kept on driving and went up a hill when my mom said "Lion!"  We had seen one lioness, then two, then a lion, and then we finally saw all 15 lions.  We were the first people to spot them.  We watched them and figured out that they were trying to surround and kill a buffalo.  We kept watching them and some of them were less than a yard away from the land rover.  I can't tell you much else about the lions because my eyes were closed probably of the time that we were there!! It was SCARY!  But I can tell you two things about the male lions.  1. Their mouth always looks like it is smiling and 2. Their manes are not always light; they are sometimes really dark and beautiful!  My parents told me that we were in the middle of the pride of lions all around us and the buffalo were in front of our jeep.  I was sort of glad my eyes were closed!  Eventually, Colbert told us that we had to leave so other people would have a chance to see the lions, so we left and our luck continued. 

Not too long after seeing them, we saw a female leopardess that was very photogenic. We followed her and figured that she was stalking something to feed her cubs with.  We came back later in the morning and relaxed until we had breakfast.  After breakfast, we basically did nothing until about 1:30, and had lunch, and then did nothing until about 3:30 when we went on another game drive.

Just a little clarification on the land rovers:  They are completely open, you can fit 11 people inside including the driver and tracker, and they are COLD.  Luckily, I have a sweatshirt and a warm North Face jacket to wear.  Two jackets is the minimum.  Then, during the day, you can have blankets and ponchos, but in the freezing cold morning, they have warm blankets and hot water bottles waiting for you on your seat.  I hadn’t known what a hot water bottle was until this trip, and because it is winter here, I am glad that I do.

In the afternoon, we had almost as much luck as we did in the morning.  We started off going east, and the driver and my mom saw one lioness.  Then there were two, and three! And four! And five!  We were watching them for quite a while, but then they perked up a bit when they heard something.  Our guide said that they had heard a buffalo, and they were still hungry because they most likely didn’t catch the buffalo in the morning.  (He recognized the lionesses from the morning.)  Then, as the lionesses left, we followed them, and eventually left them to see what they had heard.  Sure enough, there were a bunch of buffalos about 1 kilometer away (.6 miles).  We still have no idea if the lions got the buffalo either times, but we might know soon!  Other animals that we saw were Steenbok, Honey Badger, Springbok, and two young giraffes.  After that, we came back to the lodge, took showers, and had dinner.

Tomorrow we are going to the western side of the reserve to see if we can find some rhinos! (We only need to see them to complete seeing the big 5!)

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Titsa & Manny on

Holy Cow (or Lion or Monkey). You are reaaally close and in an open jeep! I'm glad you didn't experience a kill (at leats you didn't mention it). I don't think I'd like that part!

Alexandra, your writing and details are awesome! Bravo!

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