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September / October 2013
06.10.2013 - 06.10.2013 16 °C
Morning came too early, but started off sunny and warm. We were overdressed and Troy went back in the room and left his jacket. We were joined by some folks from England, a delightful, retired couple, Chris and Barbara. After a 50 minute drive we were at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game park for our full day game drive. Just as we were driving in to the main park area we saw a giraffe, this was very promising. After passing the main gate our guide started down a road and we saw a couple elephants and then we ran across our first white rhino! Just as we started taking pictures a call came to the guide. He informed us that a lion was spotted stalking around back towards the entrance.
We rapidly did an about face and raced off to the spot, running in to several other guided vehicles and self guided drivers. We spotted the lioness immediately and she seemed to be cagey and on the prowl. This is where things got stupid. The road was so congested we ended up getting stuck between personal drivers and where the lioness was moving. We attempted several pictures but she was on the move and we could not keep up. Troy and Randy captured a bit of a view, as did one of our travel companions.
We finally gave up and headed back to where the rhino were but they had moved on so we too continued forward. We were heading to the top of one of the mountain areas for breakfast. As we drove along we saw more white rhino, baboons, impala, and zebra. Just as we were reaching the top of the hill where we were stopping for breakfast we came around a bend in the road and saw four hyena by the side of the road. This was very rare and very brief. By the time we had a shot at them they were gone down the hillside. Just then a fifth darted across the road and down the slope side of the mountain. Exciting but likely no pics. We finally stopped for breakfast before continuing on. By this time the weather started to turn and it became windy and cold.
We drove around a little more and saw a bunch of cars gathered. We found there were 3 cheetah's eating a recent kill. They were very cool. Again a bit stupid because several guided and self-guided vehicles congested a very small area. We watched for quite some time, getting a few pics but more impressed by the experience. The cheetah's were ripping the flesh from the dead animal, pawing at it, laying back down to eat, then back up for more. At one point we saw the cheetah tear a 10-12 inch piece for the animal. Amazing.
We departed and drove around some more seeing various animals, but nothing new. We then stopped back at the same picnic area for lunch, a barbecue consisting of some beef brats (they call them boerewors) and thin steaks seasoned very well, accompanied with two really good salads, one rice and one pasta. By now the wind was howling and a few of us grabbed the blankets from the car to keep us warm at the picnic site. The six of us all came to the consensus that we were done. After lunch we drove around a little more and then headed back to where we were staying.
After a little nap it was off to dinner at Reef & Dune and then to bed. Tomorrow we can sleep in as we don't leave until 8:00 pm.
05.10.2013 - 05.10.2013
We got up At 5:30 am again today for a short game drive. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning. We saw more birds than anything; however, we did see a number of baboons, monkeys and warthogs. We were able to see a different area of the park where an abandoned lodge stood. Very rustic looking, but not old and built more indigenous to the structures from the region. This part of the park is very beautiful. From here we headed back to the lodge, changed and had breakfast before heading out to the airport. On our drive out of the lodge a pack of elephants crossed the road. We also saw monkeys, zebras and a warthog with huge tusks almost ran infront of the car. It is almost like they queued the animals to wish us farewell.
Another successful adventure. Now on to the north east of South Africa and St Lucia.
We flew from Port Elizabeth to Durban. The outskirts of Port Elizabeth is very dirty and garbage scatter everywhere. At certain points you do not want to ride with the car windows open as the smell is very bad. The tin shacks and congested, dirt road neighborhoods we have seen throughout the country were almost elegant in comparison to these very poor living conditions.
Once in Durban we drove 2 1/2 hours to St Lucia for a 3 day adventure. The hotel we are staying at is the most rustic of any we stayed at so far. This is ok as we will be very active for these three days. Starting with a night drive tonight. They picked up at 7:00 pm and we drove less than 10 minutes to the park. The ultimate goal of our driver was to find a leopard. As the night wore on he seemed to become obsessed over it. We drove and drove, seeing hippos, antelope and even an elephant, but never saw a leopard. We were scheduled to get back at 9:30 pm which would have been fine, however we didn't get back until 10:45 pm. This made for a short nights sleep as we needed to get up at 4:30 am for our game drive the next morning. Don't think I ever need to go on another night time drive.
04.10.2013 - 04.10.2013 17 °C
Up at 5:30 am to go on Safari. This morning we got a better view of the elephants, saw many warthogs and got to spend a significant amount of time with the water buffalo. The completely open-air vehicle provided 360 degree views around the park. At one point we were basically surrounding by the buffalo heard, more than 60 by Troy's count. While we now had the understanding that water buffalo are some of the more dangerous animals, we were completely at ease in the hands of our guide Steve.
After Safari we had breakfast outside. While waiting for our breakfast, a group of elephants stopped by the water hole near where we were sitting and a lone elephant was standing by the entrance of our lodge looking to get in.
The afternoon was quiet and the Bradley's skipped lunch as we are definitely feeling over fed. Tea was at 3:30 pm and then we were off again at 4:00 pm. During the drive it started to drizzle. We could see where the elephants were congregating and decided to head over to see if we could get a close look. We got up to the field where they were and got very close. We saw many baby elephants that could walk between their mothers legs. They were very cute as they tried to hide from the rain. We drove around a little more and were getting pretty wet and cold so we asked to go back. On our way back to the lodge we saw that up ahead we were about to cross paths with something quite large. It turned out to be our first encounter with a black rhino. Rhino's cannot see very well and rely heavily upon sense of smell and hearing. As we were mostly downwind he continued to get very close to us, probably around 50 feet away. At that point he picked up on something and in a split second he turned and then ran away. Again very intimidating. Steve our guide made mention that he had never been charged by this animal, but other guides had. After this great experience we were reminded of the rain and headed back for dinner.