Up at 5:30 after a very chilly night! With the toilet all the way across the camp it was time for innovation during the evening!
We got dressed in the dark and headed off to a cool breakfast with everybody shivering - it was in the low 40s or so. But we were all in good spirits because we had slept for the first time on our whole trip and it was going to be a day in Kruger!
We headed off at about 6:30 as that was when the animals would be most active. We headed to known watering holes in particular.
We at first saw a herd of impalas that we got quite close too. There was one mature male and a whole bunch of females and babies, a harem. Then we traveled on for a bit and saw a bunch of elephants with babies and immature adults but no males in the herds. We came across herds of zebras who were quite remarkable in that each was clearly a very
different stripe pattern. A couple times they were accompanied by gnus or wildebeests.
We also saw a huge flock of Qualia birds – 10,000 – 15,000 (about the size of sparrows) who would raise clouds of dust as they took off.
In one of the local rivers we saw a pod of hippos all sunning with their babies then they went in for a swim. We came across several herds of cape buffalo one of the most aggressive of the animals in that they don’t give warnings before they charge.
We headed to some artificial watering troughs and saw a secretary bird off in the distance, then a pair of elephants came out of the forest and went to the water tank and stuck in their trunks. The younger one came to the trough to drink as well. Then a wart hog ambled over to get a drink then trotted off into the bush.
We stopped for lunch at a spot that overlooked the river and watched a herd of elephants swimming and the males wrestling and chasing each other. They would go completely under water at times. On the bank was a pod of hippos a few of who wandered into the water as we watched.
When we got to lunch all of the hippos were in the water and the elephants continued to play. We saw several (4 or 5) crocodiles in the river as well. A group of impala came onto the bank and one got very close to a crocodile, but backed away at the last minute.
Also at lunch was a pair of yellow billed horn bills as well as some iridescent blue starlings and some small ground squirrels. In the river as well were ducks, some other elephants wandering around, the pod of hippos, and a heron. On the way our we watched three giraffes come down from the roadside to the river bed. They had to run down hill and when they drank they had to spread their legs out quite a bit. As they went to drink they chases d off the impala that were there.
Some of the other critters we saw were waterbucks, sable, and a variety of other critters.
We stopped at an overlook for a bit to “go bushy bushy” and there were many birds, lizards, and crocodiles all quite far away.
As the evening wore on we traveled north through the park we came across a troop of baboons with their babies, more zebra and buffalo. Then we stopped to admire a 500 year old Boabob tree that was right next to the road.
Then we drove into the dark add came to the Launi lodge, a nice complex just north of the park. We got a real room with a real bed and a real shower and had our first shower since Thursday! We headed up the hill and had dinner in a cave with the starts shining through the night sky above. Quite a beautiful setting. But then we went to bed and slept soundly!