Saturday, January 16, 2016

Kruger Nov 2015

We spent several days and nights in Kruger National Park.  It's the big, famous game reserve for a good reason--it has all the animals you'd ever want to see in Africa, just roaming around.  This giraffe was nibbling some leaves on a tree at the roadside.  I supersized the photos on this posting, so I hope you enjoy the animals!

A Cape Buffalo, chomping the grass along the road.

A male warthog along the road.  Those curved tusks are a premium decoration in Fiji.  We often saw the warthogs on their knees eating.

The leopard tortoise.  These slowpokes were often on the roads and we had to dodge a few.  From afar, they look like elephant dung--same size and shape.

A close up of a giraffe eating at the tree tops.

A classic photo of an elephant here.  Both male and female have the tusks on African elephants.  You must look elsewhere to determine which gender the elephant is.

 A female nyala crossing the road.  Animals have the right of way within the park.
A big kudu emerging from behind a rock on a river bank.
What a nice set of curly antlers he has!
A small herd of hippos on a river sandbank.
A nice view from the balcony of a restaurant where we had breakfast.  We watched a herd of elephants cross the water but you can barely see them on the right edge of the photo.  One man had such a big lens on his camera trying to capture them from afar that he had to rest it on the balcony ledge.  Too big to hold steady with just hands and arms.
Lazing hippos on the far bank.
Some closer hippos dozing on the sand.
A croc catching a few rays on the sand, too.
Elephants running away from us.
I'm just gonna stand here and gobble some dry grass.
A baboon crosses the road in front of us.  You don't dare rustle a plastic bag with food around them.  They can get aggressive and come after the food.  Signs are everywhere warning about them and not to feed them.
Baboon sitting in a field, contemplating life, I guess.
Some Cape buffalo off the road.  Massive mounds of muscle with horns.
These are one of the 'boks' that roam around the park.  Like the impala.  There are blesbok, gemsbok, steenbok, springbok, etc.  Hard to tell them all apart without a guide. They are all deer-like animals of differing sizes and coloration.

A nice set of horns on this impala.  We saw several skulls with the horns still attached.  When people find them, they sometimes hang them on a wall or fence as a decoration.

The ever-present impala blend in well with the drought-brown grass.
A wildebeest.  Not sure if it is a black or blue one, but I think it is a black one.
Close-up of a wildebeeste.  Interesting markings and horns.
An African fish eagle on a dead branch perch.
Elephant noshing on some bushes.
We took a loop that went on a dirt road along a river bank and encountered a herd of elephants moving through the area.  We were surrounded and tried to get out of their way so they wouldn't get upset with us.
This one looks like he's laughing at us as he scampers down the hill in front of us.
A zebra prances across the road in front of us.
Their stripes are fabulous, I think
Just ripping branches of leaves off to eat.
Rip it off and curl it into the mouth.  There isn't much for them to eat in the dry area here.
At the accommodation, we were inside the fence and the animals were outside.  This elephant didn't mind getting fairly close to munch on the greenery behind me.
A scruffy looking wildebeeste.
A small herd of zebras.  Always the butt shots.
Butt shot of the warthog.

This is a pretty big elephant.  Look at the size of that ear!
Nibbling the treetops with that long neck.
Butt shot of the giraffe as he lopes away from us.
An oxpecker bird on the back of a zebra.  They hop all around the animals, eating the bugs and ticks off of them.
A tiny little steenbok nibbling in the undergrowth.
The entrance to the camp accommodations for the night.
 A distant hippo at a pool of water.
This was our accommodation at Oliphants camp inside Kruger National Park.  Cozy, round rondavel with all the comforts needed for a one-night stay.
A Southern yellow hornbill.  These are big birds with big beaks.
A pair of hippos nosing through the sand.
Hippos eat a lot of grass, so they were quite happy grazing here.
An elephant roaming the bush close to us.
A group of them came wandering past and we just had to hope they didn't take offense that we were there.  We were on a dirt road and they were all around us, so we just waited.  Reverse gear may have been used on some occasions to back out of their way.
The group decided to cross the road behind us.
This one was legging it along to catch up with the group.
They were an anxious group because they had some babies and juveniles in the group.  Elephants are very protective of their young and they ushered them across the road in a quick fashion.  Nice to see the population growing.
The big guy bringing up the rear.  Baby elephants are so adorable looking.
Looking up at a baobab tree that is hundreds of years old.  Owls roost in holes farther up the trunk.
Karen at the base of the old baobab tree.  These things are so unique looking; I just love them.
A protea flower in the bush.  They looked like red starbursts in little patches in the dry brush along the roadside.  They provided a little color in the brown landscape.
Another kind of baobab at the camp. The smooth grey bark on this one is different.
A map of Kruger National Park. It is in the NE corner of the country.  This monument is positioned at the Tropic of Capricorn, which passes through the park here.
A grey termite hill.  A funny shape, this one is probably 10-15' tall.  The spire homes of the flying ants/termites are usually orange-red from the soil, but this one is in a different soil type so it is a different color.
Another elephant munching on the sparse tree growth.  Note the termite mound behind him, too.
Two leopard tortoises on the road.  They can pull their heads and tails in and their front legs pull in so their head is completely blocked and safe.
A pair of giraffes look almost like a multi-legged, double-tailed mutant.  But really, there are two of them side by side here.
A closer view shows them both eating the trees.
And away they go as we got too near.
Here at Kruger, it's all about the animals.  The "Big 5" are lion, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo and hippo.  The gentle giraffes don't count.
A herd of elephants crossing a river bed.
These cobalt blue birds were beautiful.  I believe this is a greater blue-eared starling.
He looks like a messy eater, eh? Nice horns, though.
I don't feel so bad with my baggy, wrinkly skin when I look at this elephant.
This is a huge bird nest in a big baobab tree.  It probably belongs to a fish eagle or a vulture.
A red dirt termite mound.  This stuff is like cement unless it rains.  Then they can get soft.  Something in the termite or ant's saliva makes the dirt stick together like concrete.
Mama and youngster elephants.
We drove nearly the full length of the Kruger National Park and truly enjoyed the wildlife and scenery here.  We visited during a severe drought, so the sparse leaf cover let us see more of the animals.  In just a few weeks, and after just a few rains, the greenery blocked the view from the road and you'd never see many of these animals just a few feet off the roadside.  Even though they are big animals, they can disappear into the bush with just a few steps.

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