The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Sunday, September 25, 2016

More pictures of Kruger National Park, South Africa

Hi again:

In my last post, I was putting pictures of Kruger National Park in South Africa on my blog. Now, Patrice and I are back home in Illinois, basking in the many memories we have of South Africa. Being in the park was like being in a huge zoo, except Patrice and I were the ones in the cages while the animals roamed free. We had to be inside the electrified fence before dark each night, and could not leave our car except in a few designated places when out exploring during the day. People who don't follow these simple rules run a huge chance of being eaten, gored, or stomped to death.

People drive on the left side of the road in South Africa, and the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car. Speed limits in the park are 50 kilometers per hour (30 mph) on the paved roads, and 40 kilometers per hour (24 mph) on the many miles of back country roads. This sounds slow, but it is actually quite adequate. Not only is there some concern that an elephant or zebra will jump out in front of the car, but every few miles cars would be parked on the road watching animals.

Can you see the zebra watching Patrice in the picture above? Those guys are everywhere in the park.

One day, Patrice and I were driving down a back country road when a giraffe decided to run along beside the car. He was going faster than my 40 kph, and easily won the race, cutting across the road just in front of us. I thought he looked quite pleased with himself.

I just have a point-and-shoot camera, but those things have great telephoto lenses on them. I decided to see if I could zoom in on some animals. Here is the giraffe again-----

And here is a zebra----

And an elephant---

Can you tell what this guy is?

The answer is, it's a wart hog. Here he is again:

I liked how well the telephoto lens worked on my little camera. Patrice was a great animal spotter, often seeing those guys a mile or more away, while my job was to zoom in on them and take their picture. For example, this rhino was way off in the distance; I could hardly see him, but eagle eye Patrice spotted him right away.

Although rhinos, elephants, giraffe and other large animals could not come into "camp" at night because of the electric fence, smaller critters seemed to get in some way. Food had to be carefully locked away. Even refrigerators (each bungalow had one) had to be locked because monkeys and baboons had figured out how to open them. As it got closer to dark, the stripped mongoose comes out to play.

Monkeys and baboons don't need to wait for dark. They will open doors or cabinets at any hour. Food is seldom safe from those guys.

Stay away from those electric wires big guy, or you will be a hot monkey---

Another animal we saw quite a lot of, but never in camp, was this one. Do you know what he is?

You got it right; he is a hyena.

By the way, can you tell the difference between browsers and grazers? Hint: Browsers eat leaves off trees, and grazers eat grass. Elephants are browsers, and their huge piles of dung are filled with thorns which go right through the elephant's digestive system (talk about tough guts). You must be careful while driving because if you run across the elephant dung you stand a good chance of getting a giant thorn in your tire -- changing a tire while watching out for lions and elephants would be a scary proposition I bet.

This guy is a browser also. He is a Kudu, one of the many types of antelope type animals in the park.

These little guys are called impala. They are probably the most common animal in the park, and they are absolutely unafraid of cars. They will walk right out in front of them. They love to walk about in huge herds.

Another grazer is the Nyala, a type of antelope. I was forever getting it mixed up with the kudu, but the kudu has spiraled horns.

The birds and plants in the park were interesting too, but jet lag is telling me it is time to get some sleep. I will post more pictures tomorrow.

Goodnight (yawn)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

South Africa

Hi again:

Patrice, my wife, the animal lover, has been wanting to go on safari in Africa for the longest time. The problem was the expense. She had figured it would cost about $30,000 which was totally out of line for our budgets. After some research, we finally decided we could "self-charter" a safari by flying into Johannesburg, South Africa, renting a car there, and going up to Kruger National Park. We went on-line and reserved a different bush camp in Kruger for each of nine nights, and then we were all set.

As soon as we entered Kruger National Park we started seeing animals.

Impala seemed to be everywhere

Our first rest camp was at Punda Maria.

There was a waterhole there, and the elephants were having a great time playing in it. We watched them cavort for a long time.

It gets dark at 6:00 in the tropics. At that first rest camp, there were some lights that could be turned on if a person wanted to continue watching animals from the blind near the water hole.

The next day we drove our rental car up toward the grey-green and greasy Limpopo river which we all remember from Rudyard Kipling's tale of how the elephant got his trunk. We discovered several crocodiles there.

We also started seeing a lot of hippos.

And also the most dangerous animals (some say) in Africa: The Cape Buffalo. Patrice really did not feel comfortable around those big guys.

They love being around water. They also love being in big herds. Sometimes we would have to wait for a long time as a herd crossed the road.

Sometimes we would see a lot of vultures sitting in a tree.

That was always a sure sign that there was a lion's kill close by.

It was also a sign that it was time to pull off the road and look for the lion.

We had scheduled our overnight camps each night, and had to be behind the electrified fence before dark at 6:00 p.m. You sure don't want to be out in the wild and have car trouble after dark. Each camp had something special to recommend it. We loved sitting on the veranda, having a drink or a breakfast, and watching the animals out across the waterways or the veldt.

Each camp we stayed in had a nice "hut" for us, and generally cooking gear. We never took advantage of the cooking gear, preferring instead to eat in the camp restaurant. Here is a picture of a "hut", and also of our rental car.

I could continue to put pictures on this post for a long time, but Patrice says it is time now to walk around a little. So, more later.