Africa, Part 1.

I arrived on a Friday night, and Saturday morning I started out at 7 a.m. for Kruger Park. Kruger is humongous. It’s the same size as Rhode Island. It’s a giant game reserve with ten parks where people can stay in a variety of abodes depending on their monetary constraints (fancy guest houses with maids, wee bungalows like the one Cricket and I stayed in, or bring-your-own-tent-or-camper with communal showers and toilets for all the campers). A typical day is to get up at 5:30 a.m., drive around seeing whatever beasties happen to cross your path, then go back to your park residence, eat breakfast, and go back to bed for a few hours. Then you potter around, read a book, buy things in the gift shop, watch cricket in the communal TV hall, whatever. In the evening, you go out for another game drive (a drive lasts 3-4 hours), then you come back and grill (or “braai”) dinner, listen to a variety of animals and birds make noises, and go to bed. We did this for four days. Four awesome days. We saw everything except cheetah, which is phenomenal.

This is Cricket in front of our bungalow. The kitchen-y bits are outside, since it almost never rains there. The camp is filled with these insanely adorable redbuck and the slightly less adorable vervet monkeys, both of which we will get to later. Inside the bungalow there were three twin beds with bed frames I kept slamming my shins into, much to the mirth of Cricket, and a lovely bathroom with a great shower that just blasted you with water, nice big hot water droplets.

bungalow-exterior.jpg

This is the roof inside the bungalow. A great many houses in South Africa have thatch roofs. We saw signs all over for things like, “The Thatchery – for all your thatching needs.”

bungalow-roof.jpg

This was the sign on the door. It explains why the monkeys are slightly less adorable.

bungalow-doorsign.jpg

Cricket loved that line, “the problem is receiving our full attention.” How, precisely? Are you sending the monkeys to classes? Also, I’m not liking the “Welcome to Letaba Restcamp” font at all. I think I would have liked it better if it was both upper and lower case, but not as all caps. Hell, at least they didn’t use Papyrus or Comic Sans.

This was the fusebox in our bungalow.

earth-leakage.jpg

Earth leakage! Hee hee! Where I’m from, that’s called “lava”, Buster, and it’s going to take more than the flick of a switch to fix that. JSYK, “geyser” is what they call a hot-water heater. Apparently they’ve had a lot of bad hot water experiences when they compare it to a boiling sulfuric water shooting out of the ground. Ours worked swell, though. See above shower comment.

These were our nightly companions. They liked the moths that hung around our bungalow light. They’re translucent!

gecko1.jpg gecko2.jpg

Okay, game animals. We saw mad crazy herbivores, yo. It got to the point where we didn’t stop for zebra or impala, and if the elephant wasn’t ten yards or less away from the car, we weren’t stopping. Something you should also know, if it looks like the animal is really close, it’s because the animal is really close. They get right up near the vehicle. We were attacked by a male baboon and the driver almost rode into a ditch to get away from him. And more than once we had to back up – slowly – to get away from a bull elephant who was walking towards us. The animals just go about their daily business, and if you’re lucky, they do it near the road and you get to see it. However, South Africa has been getting a great deal of rain recently, so the grass was very high and that prevented us from seeing some stuff. We saw plenty, though, so I’m not complaining.

A giraffe we saw upon entering. Doesn’t it look just like a fashion model? So glamorous.

giraffe.jpg

Some wildebeest. Kruger only has blue wildebeest. The one you see on nature programs in gigantic herds crossing rivers and getting eaten by crocodiles in slow motion, those are black wildebeest, also known as gnus. So, to recap, these are blue wildebeest.

gnu.jpg gnu2.jpg

Some female lions chillin’. We also saw a male lion, but he was far away and the pictures of him look like a wee brown lump near some bushes, so I will not be posting those.

lions.jpg

A zebra giving us a stare-down. Not a very intimidating guy, but he’s doing his best.

zebra.jpg

This was big – it’s a leopard sleeping in a tree. You never see leopards, they’re very secretive. We saw two. I’ll get to the other one in a bit. In the meantime, napping leopard in trees.

leopard-in-tree1.jpg leopard-in-tree2.jpg

Male impala play-fighting. Their horns make a interesting “clackity clack” noise when they smack them together. These aren’t full-grown adults. The horns are about six inches longer when they’re fully grown.

impala-fighting1.jpg impala-fighting2.jpg impala-fighting3.jpg

A group of impala crossing the street. There are 125,000 impala in Kruger Park. You see a lot of them.

impala.jpg

A male impala surrounded by all his wimmen. Look at him, thinking he’s all that. He doesn’t realize he’s going to be eaten by a big hairy thing with sharp pointy teeth eventually.

impala2.jpg

This is one of my favorites. A buffalo eating while oxpeckers clean the ticks and fleas out of his hide. I’ve always called those birds “tickpickers”. It’s fun to say. Tickpicker tickpicker tickpicker.

buffalo.jpg

A baboon scratchin’ his butt. I expected him to burp and pick up a remote after. (He did not.)

baboon.jpg

Some hippos. Whenever I see them, I think of eggplants. A group of hippos is called a pod, but a guy we were travelling with called it a splodge of hippos, because he thought it sounded more appropriate. I think I agree.

hippos.jpg

Hippos in the river being all stealthy and whatnot. Did you know hippos can’t swim? They run on the bottom of the river. I think that’s why they got the name hippopotamus (“river horse”).

hippos2.jpg

This was our big crocodile sighting. I think we saw one laying out on a bank, but it was way far away. And it could have been a log. Crocodiles are not terribly animated.

crocodile.jpg

A puff adder crossing the street. They move almost in a straight line, which is unusual. This one also fell into the ditch off the edge of the road. I was like, “How did you just fall into that ditch? You’re on the ground already! There’s no where to fall! Silly guy whose venom causes necrotic tissue wounds!”

puff-adder1.jpg puff-adder2.jpg

While we’re on the topic of reptiles, here’s a sweet little terrapin I met on the road.

terrapin.jpg

And here’s a leopard tortoise. I also saw a black mamba, but they are FAST. They are the fastest-moving land snake. Also, they are not called the black mamba because of their exterior coloring. They’re kind of a french gray. No, they’re called the black mamba because the inside of their mouths are an inky black, which might be the most creepy thing ever.

leopard-tortoise.jpg

Leave a Reply