Day 16 + 17 + 18: Kruger N.P. - Sunset drive + Off road game drive + Game drive

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Africa » South Africa » Mpumalanga » Kruger National Park
November 17th 2014
Published: June 27th 2015
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Kruger N.P., the last chance to see a leopard. Than we saw the complete Big 5. If we do not see the Big 5 complete, I have a great excuse to go back to Africa one day, because she already stole my heart. And, if we do see the Big 5, I have to find another great excuse, haha! However, there are still animals that we did not saw. Cheetah’s, hyena’s for example, and the famous leopard. And, I hoped to see more giraffes. In fact, we saw 2 giraffe’s and I made some good pictures of them, but I would like to see them from close by. This were my goals for Kruger N.P. and I hoped that the nature will lead those animals on our path. Read on what nature showed us the in three days of Kruger N.P.!

We left the small kingdom of Swaziland, a little bit later as usual. At 7.30 we were in the Truck that took us to the Mangala Border; between Swaziland and South-Africa. At 13.30 we arrived at the camping, were we took lunch. This tame we camped at the Nkambeni Tented Camp, at the Numbi gate., in the South-West of the park. There are many gates that you can take to go in the park. Close by the gates, you can find camping’s, hotels, lodges. At our camping, the Nkambeni Tented Camp, we were able to do an very great upgrade. That means, no tents! O wait, the upgrade was actually tent, but a very great one. The upgrade was made out of a very big “one camber” tent, which was build like a “house” on legs. You walked via a stair to the tent and you had a balcony. You were able to spot some animals if they came close. I spotted a buffalo once. And, the toilets and the showers were amazing as well, but probably not very great when it’s raining very hard. They were build against the fence; but the side to the fence was open. That means, that you were able to spot animals when you are sitting on the toilet or take a shower. A good idea, but not very useful when you have bad weather. Over bad weather, they had a good action at the camping. They do organise game drives themselves, and due the bad weather of the last days,
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The Buffalo's were quite close!
they had a discount for the entire week. Also for new guest. That means that the Sunset Game Drive and the Off Road Game Drive was less in price. And we Dutchies love this kind of actions.

As told, the Kruger park is a huge park, and probably the famous (Safari) wild park in the world. Here, you have many options. Of course, the game drives. The off-road game drives, the game bush walks, but you are able to do some trails as well. But, do not expect to be alone. Kruger is quite touristic. Especially at the gates and close by the gates you will be not alone. However, there are places to find where you can be alone with your own jeep. Driving your own is also allowed, but only on the “hard” asphalt roads. But I do not know if I like it. It’s not the first time you read in the newspaper that animals attack the cars. I do not know the situation, but with a good ranger I agree you safer. He knows the signs of the animals and know when to “back up” with your jeep. Well, except Johannes in Swaziland who almost got into an accident with a female elephant (missed that? Read my blogpost of Swaziland). But, I also saw an wounded small impala young. It was some days old and hit by a car. A ranger of another jeep saw it, but is not allowed to shot the animal to release it from suffering. We waited for some minutes, because we hoped it would attack predicators, like hyena’s, wild dogs, leopards (that would be an awesome change!) and the lion. But, no, they did not appeared and we moved on. In that case I was a little bit angry. In that cases and due safety, I do not like self drives. The Kruger N.P. is the largest Wild park in Africa, and in the North it reaches Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It is 360 km long and at least 60 km broad. You can spot here a lot of different animals, including the complete Big 5. Some populations, as counted in 2009 is: 150.000 impala, 5110 giraffe’s, 18.000 zebras, (spotted) hyena: 2000. Hippo’s 3000. Cheetah: 120. And now the counts of the big 5. Buffalo 27.000, Elephant 12.000, Lions 3.000, White Rhino 10.000 and Leopards 2.000. Wait, did you say 2.000?That is almost so much as the hyena’s. Well, with 2.000 leopards we should see one right? But if you like birds, you also can see them enough. The park was first known as Sabi Game Reserve, founded by some man. One of those man was Paul Kruger. He was president of South-Africa from 1883 to 1900. In his youth, he took part in the “Grote Trek” at 1930 he was involved in the “Second Boer War”. During this war, he left South-Africa to live in Europe. He never returned, only for his funeral in 1904.

Well, enough said. It was time, for the first safari. A Sunset game drive. In fact, this is a game drive where you will be able to see the sunrise in the park at a good spot. The rangers serve drinks and snacks. You have a good opportunity to make some pictures and the way back is even more spectacular. In the dark, we are going to drive back. Here, the jeep will drive slowly and is searching with a huge light for wildlife. You do not see that much animals than, but it is so awesome when you see some red eyes blinking up close by the jeep. So, we went on the sunset. The ranger was a good ranger, he told us a lot about the wild life. But, he was too late and we had to search for a lamp. Another lamp was broken, so it took a while before we got a good working lamp. Also, another minus is the permits. They are very strict in the Kruger N.P. Therefore, you need permits. The Rangers are able to buy the permits for you. But, you need to fill in some data. Your (full) names, gender, date of birth, passport number. And this takes very long. In the morning, this process can take up to one hour. And, you are not alone. Frome everywhere jeeps, busses, cars and tourist trucks are driving to the gate and all those people need a permit. And, this was the case with the sunset game drive as well. Our tented camp was not the only camp that is organising the sunset tours. During this tour, we saw 3/5. The buffalo, rhino buffalo and the elephant. I was sitting in the first jeep and I did not encounter an elephant on the way back; but the second jeep did. But the first guest we saw in the park was a bird He was sitting in a three, with the back to us. I cannot tell you which bird it was, but it looks like a predator. It’s I guess not a vulture. Then, we encounter a female nyala, but I had problems to picture her. Also, we saw some bathing hippo’s. It was nice to see them again. Also, you encounter a lot of impala’s. The buffalo’s are showing themselves as well. The ranger told that those buffalo’s are extremely dangerous. An old male bull, that does not have any reason to live in his eyes, can attack everything. In the hope that he will die during the fight. So he can attack people and jeeps, but he is way stronger than we are. But he probably would not survive during other strong male buffalo’s or elephants. We also saw some Blue Duikers (antilopes), a lot of birds, wildebeesten (gnu), zebra’s, kulu antelope (male and female), nyala (m, f) impala (m, f). But we did not saw the lions. And the leopard? Probably napping in a tree, somewhere that we did not pass. Of
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Sight from out of the jeep, with ranger Reekson.
course, our mission in the Kruger was to find one and to shoot him... on camera. And, we did not saw him today. But I can give you some information about some antelopes that I did not discussed. I start with the impala. The impala is without doubt the number one fastest long distance runner. But that does have a good reason. The impala is called “The McDonalds/Big Mac of Africa”. And, if you really look at his butt, you can see the M from McDonalds, but not in the yellow, but in the black. And, upside down it’s the “W”. The W from “Wimpie”, Afrikaans for meat. I tasted Impala during my Cape Town tour (read that blog) and that meat is very great. So, I can understand that lions, hyena’s, leopards and cheetah’s wants to have this kind of meat. Those animals are sprinters, reaching top speed for seconds. How to survive? To outrun them, with a speed of 80 km/h, which they can hold quite a long time. During this run, they jump in the air, landing on their feed and jump again. With one jump they can reach up a height of more than 3 meters in the air. A cheetah, the fastest animals on earth can reach 120 km/h, with almost the similar technique but is not able to reach so high and only can sprint for maximum for a half minute. The female impala’s have a shoulder height of 70 to 90 cm, the male from 75 to 95 cm. A female weight in between 40 and 50 kg, a male 40 to 55 kg. You can recognise the male by the beautiful horns at his head. Those horns have, with some fantasy almost an “S” curl. A Nyala is almost the same animal. But there are some differences. The female animal has white stripes on her body. She has an average shoulder height of 85 cm. The male however has a shoulder height of 100 cm. If you do not know a male nyala, you probably would not recognise him as a nyala. He has a browner skin, and white stripes. On top of his back he has some white hairs standing. His hair is long, especially in the neck. He does have some white blocks by the eye and around his mouth. He does have dark brown horns, starting wide from each other and make one small curl, where they coming closer to each other. The end of the horn has another colour, white or crème (yellow). During the rain season the nyala like to feed themselves on the fresh grass, but mostly they wild feed on fruits, flowers and twigs. However, they also need to drink a plenty of water, so they are not far away from a water source. But in periods of dryness they can survive as well. A smaller antelope that you can see is the Blue Duiker. You do not see them only in the parks, but even at some camping’s we had them as guest. We saw some Blue Duikers in Tsitsikamma N.P. Blue Duikers can live quite good in the old forests. Their diet consist out of fruit, leaves, insects and eggs. But however, with luck you can find them here as well. They are very small. They have a height of maximum 40 cm and they weight not more than 5 kg. They are not blue, but in the dark, their coat can light up a little bit blue, that’s why they have the name “Blue Duiker”. The antelopes that I discussed where the most active during the tour. We also encountered zebra’s and other birds. I did not saw a giraffe. Where are they hiding? A special party with a leopard calling “hide and seek; the humans cannot find us?”. Probably. We drove offroad, at some sand roads when the ranger decided he did not dare to drive up a hill. So, he turned and had to drive quite a long time on the asphalt road. In the end, quite late, we arrived finally at the scene were we were able to go out of the jeep. It was on top of a rock. They served Amarula and some snacks like chips and nuts. I enjoyed the sunset. And then, it was time for the best part of the excursion. Astrid took the lamp, a strong white light was coming from it. And then we drove. Astrid was shining in the grass to find some animals. They were pretty hard to spot, you have to light them up at the right time. Trying to spot animals like this is amazing. You don’t know where they are hiding and which you can see. You do not see that much animals as you see in
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Buffalo's; I never saw them i such huge herd together and pretty close by the road.
the day light. You should be lucky to shine them with the light on time. Then, you see the red bilking eyes. Then we stopped and shined the light on the animal to look which one it was. So, we found one female nyala, but I could not get her very good on the camera; the picture is a little bit moving. Probably because she was scared and want to flee as well. Not only the nyala, also some impala’s and a blue duiker.

But, we encountered some buffalo’s from very close. They were standing quite close during the jeep. I really liked the sunset tour, because it’s quite unique. The other jeep was coming 10 minutes later than us, they encountered an elephant. And a pack of hyena’s. That is even more badass.

When we all were back, Manda and Bheki finished the diner; lasagne with some fresh salads. It was time to go to bed. The next day, at 6 the jeep for the “off road tour” would go. It was optional, Bheki would drive even with his truck to see the animals. But I decided to do the “off road” tour. With the special discount. Our ranger today was Reekson. He was also a good ranger which told us a lot about the animals. We went to the gate a little bit after 6, and here again, we had to wait quite a long time before we got our permits. And here we go. The first animals were saw where the female impala’s. Not long after, we spotted also one elephant. He came pretty close. The next animal we saw were nyala’s (male, female). We drove at the road when Reekson saw a monkey. It was a vervet monkey. These monkey’s have their habitat quite close by human areas. You find them across East-Africa, in some cases even in Ethiopia and Somalia, they do not appear in the West. Also, by these animals the males are longer, from 50 cm to 65 cm, the female is 35 cm to 50 cm (length starting from their head until the start of their tail). They do not weight that much. A male’s average weight is 5,5 kg, a female average is 4 kg. As much monkey’s they are very social animals, living in family’s and groups of both females and males. When a male young
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Hyena; als you can see, this animal is probably blind at his eye.
is old enough, he will leave the group and will trek his complete live from group to group. Only the female animals are staying in the group they born. A group consist around 9 monkey’s. We encountered a group of elephants after we left the monkey’s. And then, we saw a giraffe. She were closer than the first and only one’s we saw in Hlane (Swaziland). But, when she saw us coming and standing, she decided to find some shelter behind the tree. Luckily for us, her head was sticking out of the threes so we were able to make some good pictures of her. In the end, she did not bother and start to eat again. I thought it was a male, because it seems like he was alone, but then I saw a small baby! It was a mother after all! The young cub found a good shelter in the yellow, long grass so it was hard to spot him. After spotting a bird, we found a white rhino. The only animals of the Big 5 that we did not saw in the Kruger Park were the lions and the... leopard. But, first we found some warthogs, that were living together. Than, we encountered a herd of buffalo’s. They were laying in the grass in-between the vegetation, and they were with quite a lot of them. I did not saw that many buffalo’s together. After we spotted again a white rhino from close, we encountered some animals that we did not saw before. The hyena’s. One hyena had a problem whit his eye, I guess he is blind on that eye, because it turned white. The hyena with the with neck hair is still a little cub, but almost full-grown. However, he is still drinking milk by his mother. His mother did not give the change to finish his drink so he started to cry. It is not a cry as you can expected by a dog; the sound is way higher, and he uses shorter tones. In Africa you find the brown hyena, the striped hyena and the spotted hyena. The brown hyena you find in Southern West Africa, so we were not in the area to see one. The striped hyena is also not likely to find in South-Africa. They live mostly at desert-like environments. You can find them in Saharan Africa, the Middle-East and even in India! So, with no doubt, the hyena’s we saw where the spotted hyena. You can see that they have black spots on their brown/grey coat. Hyena’s are quite aggressive and do not bother to fight. However, they do look like canine, genetically they do more belong by the feline; this is mostly that their body adept to a typical hunting style. A hunting style that also African feline’s can use when hunting. As told, hyena’s are hunting, but you also can find them as a scavenger. When you see them as scavenger, probably there is lack of food. In that case, the hyena is able to eat also skin to even the turtle shell, without any problems. Again, the males are longer than the females, but generally a hyena has a length from 100 to 180 cm (except the tail, these is around 50 cm long). They weight from 60 kg up to 90 kg. What is special about hyena’s is that the female animals do have more testosterone in their bodies. The clitoris of the female animal has even a prepuce; so it looks like the female animal does have a penis, but that is not true. However,
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The Big male lion is sleeping. He wounded his paw, but it seems like the big King does not bother that.
in the early history they thought that hyena’s had a double sex. Hyena’s have the prejudice that they are lazy animals, but that is not true, they are hunting quite a lot of time of their days and are more active than the lions. I really liked to see some hyena’s. We never saw them before. They were sitting quite nice by the road so we were able to make some good pictures of them. Not far away we saw a turtle. Yes, turtles. I never expected to see them in a Safari park. I always expected to see them quite close by (tropical) rivers and the sea. But it seems like, they have a good time over here. As we did as well. Reekson found ou where a pack of lions were. When we arrived, it was a chaos. A lot of jeeps were riding to this point and we had to wait and Reekson almost had to “fight” with his jeep so we finally could find a good spot to make some pictures of the lions. At this point, you recognise that Kruger N.P. is quite commercial. It was also quite close to a private lodge in the middle of the park. That means that this point was good to reach and easy for rangers to give coordinates about the lions. So, it was quite hectic. Of course, every tourist want to make some great pictures of lions, jeeps are coming and it seems like that no one wants to give space to another one and just want to have the lions for their own. The lions did not care. They were... relaxing and sleeping. Again! I was wondering if I actually would see active lions one day of my trip. With active I mean walking. For me is walking quite active when you are laying on your ass for 18 to 20 hours. The male lion was sleeping, where some female lions, covered in the grass were on the lookout. It seems like the male lion had hurt himself, he was bleeding a little bit at one of his paws. I think, we spend in total 30 minutes by the lions. Reekson was also a good guide to find some birds. He showed us quite a lot of birds, and I do not known which species we all saw. Also, we found a very young baby impala,
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Elephant's. We were driving at the road at a hill, and when we looked down we saw in the distance this herd of Elephants.
close by his mother of course. It was so cute. We started to drive off road. But here, it first was boring. We did not encounter a lot of animals and the off road tour was not really off-road. By off road it means you are allowed to go of the asphalt, but you still have to take the sand roads. You are not able to drive on the grass for example. Reekson drove quite fast and wanted to show us some other parts of the park. He knew there were some hippo’s over there and we might spot a crocodile as well. And then, we spotted a zebra. I finally made a very good picture of them. I expected to see them way more, but then he flew away in the vegetation. I did not discussed the zebra, yet. There are two kinds of zebra’s in South Africa, the Burchell's zebra and the Cape Zebra. You can sort them due the stripes; the Cape Zebra has no blurred stripes at his butt, but the Burchell's zebra has. The zebra lives mostly in east Africa, you do not see them much in the West. The males and females have almost
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Hippo's. From this distance it looks like they are rocks, but when you look with your binocular, you can see that the hippo's are moving. I also caught a crocodile with my binocular, but I could not get him on the picture.
the same sizes, where the height of the shoulder is around 110 to 150 cm. Their length is around 2.30 meters, not including their tale from 50 cm. They weight from 200 kg to around 400 kg. Male animals do weight more than female animals. The function of the stripes is quite unique. First, the cubs can find their mothers due the stripe pattern they recognise, even in a very great herd of animals. But second, is a great temperature regulator; everyone knows that black absorbed sunlight (warmth), and white does not absorbed that much sunlight. If you sit in the sun and you wear black shirt you are absorbing more heat and get it hotter than when you wear a white shirt. The Zebra is doing that as well: in cold periods the black stripes are helping him to absorb the sunlight (and warmth), in the warm periods the white stripes are helping him to absorb less sunlight. And third: the stripes are also used when the herd will be attacked by predators. The zebras are running and standing together, so it seems like they are just one. The predators have difficulties to pick out (the weakest) animal and
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The giraffe is hiding behind the tree, but it seems like the tree is not long enough.
when the zebras are running the predators might get disorientated and their attack might be failing, because they cannot focus on one animal. We left the Zebra. We spotted a turtle again, before we finally saw some giraffes. Some giraffes had some birds on their neck, these birds are picking the parasites of the necks. We drove further. Here, we drove on the way that was a little bit higher, so we watched into the valley. From top, we overlooked an elephant family. We took some self made lunch at one of the restaurants and places the park has. Then, it was time to drive back. Today, we saw many warthogs. And birds. We passed also a pool were the hippo’s were laying. I spotted with my binocular a crocodile, but I was not able to set him on the picture. But I do have some pictures of the hippo’s. Also, Reekson stopped at the side of the road where a reptile was sitting on a piece of wood. We drove further, when we suddenly wanted to stop. Some group of elephants wanted to cross the road. Reekson decided to keep quite a distance, to let them cross the road
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A herd of Elephants were crossing the road, including this little fellow. He played with his trunk and on the road, but the rest of the group was currently surrendering him. Until this moment when I took a picture of him.
quite softly. And then we understood why. This groups contains a very very young animal. This young animal is a favourite prey amoung predators, because it is not able to defend themselves that good. That means that his family will take a huge care of him and will protect them with their death. Driving to close to them, might trigger a reaction that the animals and the young cub feels treated and the elephants shall not doubt to attack the jeep. A car of a jeep is no game for an elephant. From here, I start to film with my camera, and I forgot to photograph this little fellow, so I had to press “print screen” to get some pictures from this great moment. I was totally silent and so impressed by the way they walked and the very young cub. Before they finally went in the vegetation again, they stood still for some seconds to watch us when the young cub was a little bit playing and walking around. We drove further. Reekson saw a giraffe nearby, lowed his speed and we stood still. The giraffe was standing behind a tree, but a perfect way to make some great pictures. Only, it did not took long, when a tourist self drive car drove quite fast nearby and the giraffe flew away deep in the vegetation. Thank you very much driver. Not far away, we spotted some baboons. They were sitting on the ground, they were to pick the fleas by each other. They also had some small cubs. This activity is a very social activity, where they maintain their social bands between the group. When a young male reach his adult age, he will leave the group. He will trek between groups of animals, where the female animals will stay their entire live in the group. The mother will get with one pregnancy one cub. After time, the cubs become very adventures and play from each other and like to flee away from mothers sight. But in danger, the mother always find the cub on time and knows where he was. It is almost similar what we do with our kids, it seems. We moved on, where we saw in the vegetation a very young nyala cub. Probably the mother was close by, but we did not saw her, we took photos and left. Reekson had to hurry, because
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A small impala cub, is he not cute?
we should be back on time. There was also an opportunity do to another Sunset game drive as well for those which were interested. We stopped by the Zebra’s when we saw a herd of them. Here, we could take pictures and we drove further. We stopped also when we saw a mother warthog with 4 cubs. The cubs looked very young, they are probably not that old. But the mother decide to flee in the vegetation quite soon. And we decided to go on. After a while, very close by the gate, we spotted some zebra’s from close, we took a stop and we shot them on the camera. After a fully day of game driving, we came to the conclusion that we saw some new animals. Turtles, hyena’s, baboons. But, the leopard? We just had one day left to see one leopard. We are still standing at 4/5... and without seeing one, I defiantly have to go back. A full day of game driving makes you quite tired as well. You are searching everywhere to find animals. We arrived quite late, around 17.15. I went for a small walk to the hotel reception and their terrace when I saw Ton and Margot. We dinked some good red wine to finish the day. In the evening, Manda prepared a meal for us. He served a kip kebab spies and rice with broccoli. The broccoli was cooked in a sauce. Also, he had a mix of onion and tomato as a salad. In the evening, I walked with Ton and Margo to get some other 2 wines before we go in bed. In conclusion, I still was a little bit disappointing, and probably it was due my expectations. Manda told me that my idea of “off-road” was not correct. I expected that we could drive on the grass, on the mud roads and really of the road, but that is not what the “off road” tour means in the Kruger N.P. Off-road is only that you are allowed to go of the asphalt. When he explained to me, I understood and I was not that disappointing anymore, because we saw a lot of animals. So, when I returned of the tour, I was disappointing, but after a long day, and a good wine I was very satisfied with the day. But, where is the leopard? She should be close, because
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And finally there she is... the leopard. Yes, YES, finally, we saw her! The Big 5 is now complete. On the last days, in the last hours, we are so lucky to see one!
I heard one before I felt in sleep. It is just as the lions: their sound is getting stronger from a distance and you probably won’t hear it quite nearby. This means the leopard wants to settle his territory. It really was tomorrow the last safari day. Can I finally spot one?

The next day, some people booked the “Off –road” tour again. Just 4. I was doubting, but something inside me sayed “chose the truck”. So I did. Bheki would drive the truck. And maybe Bheki can find the leopard? Does he? Bheki was sitting in front of the truck, and Manda stayed by us above. The truck would leave at 6.20, but it was a hour later before we were finally in the park, due the permits. And let’s start; in just 2 hours I saw so many animals. Of course, some members from the Big 5; Buffalo’s, Elephants, Rhino’s. We started actually with the buffalo’s. They were quite close. And, not far away from them, we saw the Elephants. One elephant came very close. It seems like she was curious. She was looking to the truck, but I do not know she saw me as well. She keeps looking and I had the perfect opportunity to take some good pictures of her. And, I made a picture of us both. She was that close I could make a selfie. When we left the elephants, we were driving on the road. At this point there were no other cars and jeep, except one jeep far away. Until suddenly, Bheki started to drive quite fast and parked his truck close by another jeep. The people in the jeep were making pictures and were point with the fingers to us in the woods. And then, the most magical words from this trip, from Manda “LEOPARD!”. Like WHAAAAT?!?! It seems like, she was crossing the road in search for water, when Bheki saw her and knew it was just time before she hide out of our sight. The leopard was standing in between vegetation, but at least we could see her. I took my binoculars to see her. She was standing with her ass to us, and she did not show her complete face. I could not make pictures with my own camera so I got some pictures from someone else of the leopard. This is so amazing.
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Elephant Selfie!
After so many days of searching them, here she was. She was indeed hiding in the vegetation, and that is mostly what leopards are doing during the day. Leopards are most active during the night and the twilight. They hunt during the twilight. And during day, they mostly hide in a tree, or search something to water and hide in the vegetation. They do live almost in complete Africa, except the Sahara desert. In some places, the leopards is almost extinct, for example by the Nile river. Leopards are also find in the Middle-East, but there their numbers are decreasing. In Asia, you also can find them, most in South Asia (except the islands, for example Indonesia). They are near extinction in complete East-China; but it seems like they can live also up in the North of the complete East-Russia. There are a lot of leopard species, but some are near extinction. This was the African leopard. These leopards are mostly hunting on young animals, warthogs, antelopes. When they catch a prey, they are able to drag the prey into a tree, only with a maximum of 250 kg. The leopard prefer not to eat on the ground, to the fact he other predators are most likely to steal his prey. When dragging the prey into the tree, other animals are not able to reach and the leopard can enjoy the prey for himself. A male leopard weights between 60 and 90 kg, a female around 40 to 50 kg. An adult animal can reach a length from 1 to 1.90 meters, except the tail which can reach 60 to 110 cm. I was so happy I finally saw a leopard! Finally, we were searching for them quite a lot time. A lot of groups did not see the leopards, but at least we did. I was so happy. This was really the best moment of the trip. And, the Big 5 was complete. From now on, the mission seems like complete. But, not later, we got another surprise. I did not saw lions in action yet, but when we were watching some elephants by a small water pool, when suddenly the elephants started to walk away. Then, we noticed that some lions were walking at the other side of the road, and they wanted to drink at the water pool. There was just one male with them, but not
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Elephants by the small water pool
full grown. From a distance, it looked like a female animal, because he did not had a full grown mane. The lions want to go to the other side of the road to reach the pool, so they had to cross the road. And the fastest route to the pool was blocked; by our truck. So, the lions had to walk beside us to cross the road, which means, they came very close. They walked, and I guess they did not see us. They were not in hurry, and walked quite slow. Due their speed and the fact they came so close, it was a great opportunity to make some great pictures. In the mean time, the elephants walked away by the pool. When the lions arrived by the pool they starting to drink imminently. And then, they chose to relax. Probably they are hang there for the complete day. And, no other animal dare to close by them; even when they want to drink. You saw in the distance that some other animals would like to drink, but did not dare to go there or even flee away. The elephants came a little bit close, so it was possible
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A young male lion is walking close by our truck to go drinking by the waterpool
to shot the lions and the elephants on one picture. But, the lions did not care that they took over the complete pool and that no other animal dare to drink. The lions probably had eaten and just wanted to sleep and relax. We watched the lions for some minutes when they lay down and then we moved on. We spotted another member of the Big 5, two white rhinos. In less than 2 hours we saw the complete Big 5, all animals in action (movement). Close by the one rhino, a warthog was walking. So, it was possible to shot two different animals in one shot. The warthog decided to come a little bit close, stood still and was posing like a photo model for my camera, before he left. The rhino’s stayed and I also made a picture with me and the rhino’s. The next animal I saw where the Zebra’s. They were pretty close this time and did not flee in the vegetation, so here I could make some great pictures. Close by the zebra’s, we found the giraffe’s. The giraffes were in a group and did not flee in the vegetation. They were walking and eating,
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The lions drinking by the water pool
and it seems like they did not care that were there as well. We also spotted one springbok. The shoulder height of the animal is around 70 cm, and weights around 40 kg. The animal lives only in Southern Africa; especially in the west, but you also can find them in the Kruger N.P. The springbok is able to spring very high (2 meter), and he uses that to escape from predators. In Namibia it is the most common prey of the lions. Hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and lions are the top predators for the springbok. We saw the springbok standing on a rock, and he does not have any problems with jumping from rock to rock. We were lucky we saw a springbok; the population in the Kruger park is quite low. A springbok can live up to 10 years. A normal pregnancy takes 5 to 6 months, but the springbok is able to keep the baby inside until enough rain is fallen so that the young cub has enough to eat when he is born. The mother animal give birth to one young cub, and they stay by the mother until she gives birth again; mostly after one year.
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The lions are going to relax by the ater pool.
We also saw some wildebeesten (gnus). You can find the gnus most in Central Southern Africa, and there are also populations in East Africa. You have to species of Gnus; the black gnu’s and the blue gnus ones. We only saw the blue gnus. The coat of the blue gnus are looking blue when the sunlight is shining at it. You can recognise them at their black stripes at their coat. The shoulder height of a male blue gnu is around 150 cm, and an animal can weight around 250 kg. The female has a shoulder height of around 130 cm and weight 180 kg. It was the last animal we saw before we went back for lunch. We spend the afternoon by the swimming pool with a cocktail.

In the end, we saw the complete big 5, but no cheetah. It is the only animal we did not saw. During the last night, we had a lot of rain and some thunder. It was the last camping day and Manda cooked for us as the last meal. He made some farmers sausages, a steak, a vegetable mix with carrots and green beans, and served
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Two white rhino's
it with a cabbage salad. He fried some potatoes as well. It was the last safari day. The next day we will do the Panorama route and travel to Pretoria, close to Johannesburg. In the end, we did saw finally a leopard and the Big 5 was complete!

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