Thursday, June 21, 2012

Even More Animals

Today was the last day we spent in Kruger National Park. We'll come back after Madagascar, but for now, I think we've had enough, despite the fact that all the animals are fascinating to watch.

I'm not going to go into details… this will be the third day I describe our encounters with impalas and zebras and wildebeast (funny thing is, after a few days… "Yeah, it's another zebra herd. Interesting… more giraffes… we don't have to stop, do we?")

Even African Elephants, which are, to be honest, huge, have become slightly boring.

We were on a time limit, trying to get out of the park by 3pm. Dad turned to Mom, "Should we stop at the bridge up ahead?" he asked.

"If there's anything to see," Mom said, "we'll stop."

As we pulled onto the bridge, a few other cars were stopped, and people were looking over the brideg down to the valley below. Mom looked over and started getting really excited.

"Shoes on! We definitely want to get out! Shoes on, everybody!"

Looking out the window… a herd of elephants, complete with youngsters (one must have been either just born or less than a year old). They were at the edge of the river, walked to get a drink, then waded (or swam) to a small 'island' in the middle. It's a very slow-moving river, more like a long, thin lake with lots of land between. We watched them with binoculars, took all sorts of pictures and videos, gave a cursory glance to the sleeping hippos on the far side of the river… looked around a bit more, watched the elephants as they made a completely useless turn in the middle of the landmass, and decided to keep going.

While driving, the parents spied something, the size of a cat and spotted a bit like a leopard, crossing the road. We almost screeched to a stop. It was a civet, looking around for millipedes and what-not. We filmed it walking through the grass, then took pictures of it crossing the road.

We were all a bit crazy afterwards as we scanned the trees for leopards, our hopes starting to fall with each new section of savannah.

"I'm glad we saw the civet." I said, "Because they offer tours for lions and leopards and cheetahs, but not civets."

But the craziness of the day wasn't over yet. Dad, driving, patted Mom's hand rapidly, pointed ahead (I put my glasses on in record time), and STOPPED the car. A leopard, having assured itself that to cross was safe, looked at our stopped car from about ten feet away, incredibly self-confident, and kept crossing. Ioan filmed him slipping into the tall grass, before disappearing altogether.

We were over the moon.
And laughing fit to burst when Ioan looked at the footage of the day and discovered that the elephants had walked around a crocodile, sunning itself with mouth open, very obviously and right in the middle of the action.

None of us noticed at the time, of course.

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