Not that it makes a big difference but I just noticed that I made a mistake with the dates of the last two entries - should be Dec. 16 and 17 instead of 17 and 18.
Did I mention that we had some interesting dinner guests last night???
At least two different kinds of praying mantis, a stick insect, a giant grasshopper and some other (unidentified) creatures joined us! Pretty cool and they didn't bite!
Well, needless to say that we got up very early again today and left the camp at 4:30. Many people come to Kruger Park to see the so-called Big Five, the five species that are supposedly the most dangerous to hunt: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Now we had already seen eles, rhinos and buffaloes at that point but no big cats yet. So this morning we were in for a treat when a leopard crossed the road in front of our car! And it didn't disappear into the bushes immediately; it stayed around for a bit although partly hidden behind some shrubs. So again, not a bad start for the day!
We had quite a long drive ahead of us today, going from Biyamiti to Satara, about 130 kms. The speed limit in the park is 50 on tarred and 40 on dirt roads but of course you go slower most of the time, constantly scanning the bush for animals as you go along. We had our windows open most of the time so the inside of the car got very dusty but that's part of the fun!
After the leopard sighting we drove on to Lower Sabie, where we had breakfast. We also saw a whole bunch of hippos and some crocs in the water along the way. Well, I guess I should say we saw the ears and eyes of those hippos since they like to hang around in the water all day, almost completely submerged, and usually only come out to graze when it gets dark. Of course I was disappointed that we didn't have the time to stay around until sunset - after all hippos and pigs are distant relatives and I was curious to see more of them! :-(
But another sighting a little later made up for the lack of a good look at the hippos - a warthog mama and four tiny babies running around right next to the road! I almost jumped out of the car to say hi and play with them! Oink, oink! But I guess it was good that I didn't or I might have ended up in their underground burrow that they eventually all disappeared into - the little ones head first but the mother had to go in backwards!
After some more driving we got to Satara, which is a relatively large camp with all kinds of amenities. Our accommodations were on the smallish side though, not like at Byiamiti. We unloaded our stuff and went for another drive, this time getting close to the Mozambique border. Now the area around Satara is lion country but we drove and drove and there was no lion in sight. The light was beautiful with dark clouds adding drama to the scene, emphasizing the contrast between the tall yellowish grass and the blue sky. There were impalas and the occasional zebra and blue wildebeest but no cats ... We were not even ten minutes from the camp when we spotted a whole bunch of cars stopped in the road ahead!!! A sure sign of something exciting! As it turned out there was a lion (there were actually two but we never saw the second one) on the other side of the river, halfway up the river bank. But with all the cars and the bushes and trees blocking the view it was very difficult to get a look at it. And some people were going crazy, hanging halfway out of their car windows or climbing through the sunroofs. In our car all the climbing happened inside - from the front seat to the back seat and vice versa, whatever was necessary to get a better look - but it was crazy enough and I had to be careful to stay out of everybody's way!
Even though seeing the Big Five had definitely not been the sole purpose of our trip to Kruger I have to admit that we would have been kind of disappointed had we not seen a lion after all. So after all that excitement we drove back to camp where - instead of doing our own cooking - we treated ourselves to a buffet dinner at the nicely decorated restaurant.
As I mentioned before there are no more exciting pictures of me with dangerous wild animals, so here I am in front of the southernmost Baobab tree in the park.