There is a tale I have been wanting to tell about my last trip to Kruger Park back in November, but first I had to sort through over 600 photos of this one sighting alone. I have been very fortunate in my trips to Kruger to have had some amazing experiences, and at the tail end of this past trip, there was one more very special sighting waiting for me.
Let me set the mood. It was my last full day in the park. My usual M.O. on this trip had been to get up and out around 4:30 am when the camp gates opened. This day was however, dark and rainy and I decided to go back to bed for a bit and wait out the rain. Unfortunately I soon discovered that it was also starting to rain INSIDE my hut as well. I moved my stuff out of the path of destruction and went to wait for the reception to open to get some assistance.
Luckily there was an empty hut and I proceed to move all of my belongings over to my new hut for my final night. By the time I got out of camp, it was after 8:30 and finally the rain was starting to let up. I opted for an easy drive from Lower Sabie over to Skukuza on the main road, with plans to take the gravel roads back if they started to dry up by the afternoon.
Skukuza Bridge after the rains
If you have already been following my blog, it is probably quite apparent that I truly love the amazing wildlife we have here in South Africa. I am also a big supporter of the idea of keeping the wildlife wild. I absolutely do not support the numerous animal interaction activities that are found all over the country such as lion cub petting and walking, elephant back safaris, ostrich riding or cheetah cuddling. Most times these types of places will claim that what they are doing is all for conservation reasons but most true conservationists agree it is anything but conservation. Lion cub petting probably tops my list of the worst of the bunch due to the connection to canned lion hunting. There is a lot of information out there on this topic if you just seek it out but if you need a start you can read here and here.
One of the rescued male lions at Lionsrock
Fortunately there are also many organizations here in South Africa doing true conservation and/or rescue work. We had the opportunity to visit one such place a few weekends ago, Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary, located in the Free State about 3 hours south of Joburg near Bethleham. Lionsrock is a sanctuary for big cats rescued from horrific conditions in zoos, circuses and canned hunting situations from all over the globe.
Back in February, I took a solo trip to Kruger National Park. I am trying to get caught up on my adventures but life seems to keep getting in the way of my blogging (all in a good way). In my last Kruger post, I wrote about my sighting of 2 lionesses that I had all to myself. That day in particular was probably my most exciting ever on safari and today I would like to share another fantastic sighting from that same day.
As I mentioned in my post about the lionesses, this day started out grey and misty with rain showers lurking so my expectations were rather low for the day. My first sighting for the day was one of my favorite eagles, the Bateleur. The eagle was fairly close, up in a tree, just off the road. But with the unfavorable weather conditions, the lighting was terrible. After spending 10 or 15 unsuccessful minutes trying to get a decent shot of this bird, I noticied there had been no other cars coming in the opposite direction and the couple of cars that came from behind me did not even stop and quickly continued up the road.
I started to wonder what I might be missing up ahead and gave up trying to photograph the bateleur. I continued up the road and after about a minute I was greeted by around 20 vehicles coming towards me on both sides of the road. I knew it had to be something big but with the tall grass it took me a minute or so to see this:
Cheetahs in the long grass
In my last post I wrote about getting back to nature in the heart of Jozi so I decided I would continue with this theme and write about something even closer to home, my garden. I hadn’t had a garden (or backyard as some would call it) since the year 2000 when I left Arizona to live in France, and when we found our current apartment with a large and beautiful garden, I had no idea how much joy this garden would bring me in our first couple of months of our new life in South Africa.