Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Walk on the Wild Side - Kruger National Park... Part II


Here we are again; deep in the heart of the Kruger National Park... Late morning and in the heat, a thick and languid stillness has settled over the reserve... 

Vervet-Monkey-Kruger-Park
Monkeys near Skukuza

We stopped to eat at Skukuza Camp (a village really) about noon and after lunch, took the drive that goes along the banks of the Sand and Sabie rivers to the confluence.  Here we saw a troop of monkeys and with them were Impala and Kudu, before we even got to the river. The drowsy heat appeared to be affecting the animals also and they watched us through half closed eyes, as we watched them.

Along the river banks there were lots of Impala and with one group, a lone Bushbuck (shy and hard to spot).

Bushbuck-Kruger-Park
Bushbuck
Out in the river, on a long sandbank were groups of Marabou Storks. Looking like aging country clerics in rusty black vestments, they tottered about on incredibly spindly legs, swiveling their bald heads, with the enormous beaks, toward the slightest movements. They are huge birds. Apart from their size, they have very strong beaks and even vultures treat them with respect. 

Marabou-Stork-Kruger-Park
Marabou Stork
The next ahhhh moment was provided by a group of seven Elephants, an adult bull and 2 big cows with 2 juvenile females and 2 babies. We watched them, mesmerized, for a long time (everyone coming down the road stopped) as they ambled along the riverbank and played in the water. I think all the gawping vehicles finally got to them, because they suddenly wheeled away from the water and crossing the road, they oozed into the bush; seeing animals that large just melt out of sight is awesome… After that, we’d have been very happy but there were more treats in store! 

African-Elephant-Kruger-Park
Elephants - Sabie River
Since we had turned onto the road along the river’s edge, we had been traveling toward a ragged gathering of vultures, circling in the far distance. Crossing the bridge we saw, down on the dry portion of the riverbed, the carcass of something hidden by a mass of the scavengers. Life and death are all part of the reality; one animal dies so that many may live. Although the spot was too far away to see any details, it appeared that the vultures had succeeded in chasing off the last of the carnivores. This tapestry of feathers just fitted the scene so perfectly. 

Vultures
All around us, various buck were calmly nibbling on green shoots growing where the water had pooled. In the dry landscape, the river was edged with bright green and in the still water, oddly molded sand islands rise above the surface. Huge trees on the inner banks hang over the reed edged pools and palms sweep the sand. Rounded boulders dot the water at the turns and bends. It is so beautiful, it’s hard to describe without sinking into the quicksand of clich├ęs... 

Africa at her best! 



Part III tomorrow...

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