Day 66, Grand World Voyage
Friday, March 10, 2023; Kruger National Park, South Africa.
How do you measure the success of an African safari?
Some say by “hunting down” the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. At one time that meant hunting with guns, and those were believed to be the most difficult to hunt on foot. Now, of course, we aim with our cameras, or just look to take in the wonder of these majestic animals in the wild.
Were we keeping a list, we could check off all five. There are many other “big five” lists. We saw none of the “shy five,” – porcupine, bat-eared fox, aardvark, meerkat and the aardwolf. They are mostly nocturnal. But I was fortunate to see four of the “ugly five,” – warthog, wildebeest, vulture and marabou stork, but not a hyena.
During two drives on our second day and a final morning drive, we saw many more of the big five and much more. I wrote about the birds earlier. What probably surprised me the most were the lion sightings on each drive. The males lounged in the tall grass near a dirt road, one looking old and sad to me.
A lioness drew our attention by standing on a tree limb. It was only after we circled around the tree that we saw another one lying lower in the tree. And then there were at least two more hiding in the tall bush nearby.
They obviously have become adjusted to the sound of the vehicles and even the clicks of our camera shutters.
Perhaps my favorite sighting was the tower of almost two dozen giraffes slowly grazing from tree to tree. (Yes, “tower” is the term for a group of standing giraffes.) Their gentle swaying movements reminded me of the scene from the Jurassic Park movie scene of the brachiosaurus. And of course we saw more elephants, including a mommy and baby.
The Kruger saved her best for last. This morning we found a leopard resting on a tree limb, just watching the impala, zebras and other animals grazing nearby (and us in our 4x4s). Earlier I had wished for a leopard sighting, saying I wanted to see one in a tree in the sun. And my wish was granted!
Finally, we had to return to camp to pack and leave. We flew from the Kruger airport to Durban where we caught up with the Zuiderdam.
During our drives we joked that many of our photos were of the hind-quarters of the animals, as they lumbered away from our approach. It seems an appropriate way of saying “the end” to an incredible safari.
*Title attribution: “Out of Africa”