Day 28, Year 6 Kruger, Day 1-Big 5 minus 1
Date: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Day
Location: Kruger National Park, South Africa

Progress has been made. We saw our first lions today, albeit at quite a distance. But Lynne and I were able to get photos to capture the moment. I didn’t really feel like I had ‘seen’ a lion as I could only see them through the binoculars and in super-zoomed photos. But we did see two lions, one clearly a female and the other not so clearly a young male. I say ‘not so clearly’ because in the photos he was either on this back with his feet in the air or his head was partially hidden by bushes. But the head of the second lion looked bigger and fuzzier, even though it was camouflaged. Now we just have to hunt down a leopard to complete our Big 5 experience. That is easier said than done, however, but we have three more days to give it a try.

We left Richards Bay at 6 am and crossed the border from KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa into the tiny country of Swaziland about two hours later. We drove through huge sugar cane plantations, drove into Hlane Royal National Park to see what we could see, but we quickly learned that it is not a self-driving park. So we drove on. We drove out of Swaziland and into Mpumalanga, another South African province. After negotiating a road detour, we finally reached the Crocodile Bridge Gate leading into Kruger National Park around 1:30 pm. We checked into our bungalows (actually round rondavels with conical thatched roofs), ate lunch, and headed out to see as much game as possible in the few short hours left in the afternoon. Our first 45 minutes were not very productive, but around 4 pm things started to change. We saw loads of Impala and at two different sites we saw a mother Impala with her young fawn. Zebra and giraffe were also in abundance and we saw a beautiful giraffe family grouping with a baby giraffe, her mother and father, and an older sibling who delighted in chasing the baby. One zebra group we saw today was also in a playful mood. There was one baby sticking close to her mother, a few older zebras, and few yearlings that were enjoying chasing one another in circles. We saw elephants, wildebeest, vultures, beautiful birds of all sorts, and a few buffalo-one of which was right beside us on the road and posed for our photos. We got back to Crocodile Bridge Camp just before the gate closed, but in time to fill up with petrol. Tomorrow morning we head out at 4:30 am to see what wildlife we can see in the early, early morning hours.

101121 Day 28 South Africa–Kruger Day 1