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Published: July 19th 2019
Picking up from where we left off...
After finishing last night's blog, everyone put a few more logs and pieces of coal on their respective fires and made their way to bed. Just as he was about to fall asleep, Jake moved his leg and felt a soft, warm thing by his foot. Panicking that there was some sort of animal in his bed, he gave it a good kicking, only to find out it was a hot water bottle that someone on the hotel staff had put in as a warm-up. It was a moment of panic and a water bottle, not a wild beast.
Today we started early, with breakfast at six and on the road to Kruger National Park around seven. The drive took roughly three hours including one pit stop along the way. We then spent the next seven hours on safari, in search of the big five. Little did we know we would knock off several within the first hour. One highlight was a large group of animals gathered around a watering hole. We saw: impala (antelopes), elephant, giraffes, zebras, Cape buffalo, firebirds, kudu, gnu (blue wildebeest), vultures, donkey, a submerged hippo, warthogs, steenbok,
and many others.
We have two highlights to share. First, we spent some time watching elephants at play in a watering hole. They spent a lot of time drinking and watering their hides, some by completely submerging themselves in the water. Two pairs of males were tussling, playfully comparing their strength and the size of their trunks. Their mother wasn't there to separate them, though it was mostly playful. It was fun watching the social interaction. A lone crocodile was at the far end of the watering hole just laying out in the sun not bothered by much,.
Toward the end of our day, we heard from another safari group that lions had taken down a giraffe. Eventually we came across the site of the carnage, alerted that we were nearing by trees full of vultures. Soon we saw a cluster of vehicles surrounding the carcass of a giraffe who had met his or her end likely within the last 24 hours. As we waited, slowly three lions crept onto the scene to continue their meal. A fourth lounged nearby, presumably with an already full belly.
Our safari ended as we made our way toward the Kruger
Gate exit and saw the sun slowly dip on the African horizon as two zebras crossed the road in front of our vehicle. If cameras had cooperated, this could have been the most scenic picture of the day, but we'll just have to save it to our memories.
We returned to check in to Kruger Gate Lodge and enjoyed a buffet dinner outdoors, surrrounded by elevated fire pits. The food was delicious, the environment relaxing, and the company good but exhausted.
Tomorrow we rise again ahead of the sun at 5 o'clock to begin safari #2. If today was "Day of the Elephant," we hope tomorrow will be "Day of the Cat."
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