FRIDAY 2 APRIL 2012
Pretoriouskop is a lovely camp and we sat outdoors and braaied our supper last night. It was lovely to see the row of fires as our neighbours all did the same thing. A group of loud American tourists were next door and their guide came over to apologize for the noise. He promised it wouldn’t last long as they were all tired and would be going to bed early! We quite enjoyed hearing them joyfully recount the events of the day – they’d clearly had a good time.
Today was our last full day in the park. It has not been the most productive holiday game wise that we have had but we each day has had its special sightings. Earl and I are delighted that we have been able to find the Big 5 for the children and that many special creatures have been seen. The only thing left on our wish list was Wild Dog. We really wanted to show them these beautiful animals also know as Painted Wolves and Cape Hunting Dog. They are vulnerable and through conservation efforts have been brought back from the brink of extinction.
We took a long route via Lower Sabie to get to our final camp, Berg en Dal. Check in time is 2 p.m. so there is not point rushing straight there. The roads we travelled were rewarding.
Miraculously we had everyone dressed, fed and packed by 6 a.m. and Jay couldn’t resist taking a picture of the sunrise.
The periods between sightings can be long and boring for young children specially if they’re ADHD. Jay is fine once his medication kicks in but he is a natural clown and entertained his cousins by taking their stuffed toys and pretending they were ‘out to get them’. Poor Grandpa was very patient when Monkey appeared at his window while the kids collapsed in mirth.
But at a sighting the excitement was transferred to the real animals and they all competed for window space to get their photographs. Jay being the oldest and at the top of the pecking order managed to get the best ones as he shoved the younger ones out of his way!
Early on in the day we found a heap of buffalo. There were mothers with babies and young bulls fighting and the kids enjoyed watching it all happen.
Elephants also made a friendly appearance and Shannon shot this lovely shot of a young one.
And this one from Jay.
Giraffe were elegant as they browsed from the tops of trees. Today they were in the mood for a photo shoot.
Shannon was amused to see that not only does a giraffe have a very long neck – he has a tongue to match!
It was not even half past eight when we saw a bit of a traffic jam ahead and there on a rock lay a lazy leopard – our third for this trip! Its not often we seem more leopard than lion!
So then we had three of the big five for the day. All we needed were lion and rhinoceros – usually this is not difficult – but today was to be different.
We stopped at Lower Sabie for toasted sandwiches and continued our drive. We stopped when we saw interesting birds and the bee-eaters were really having a good time today.
We also found purple rollers and managed to take some good shots.
And Lilac breasted rollers are probably the most photogenic of all. Here is one with a gogga in his beak.
It was just before midday when we finally got the one animal we were hoping to see. Grandpa was felt that his mission was successful – he’d shown his grandchildren the best that Kruger could offer.
After this excitement we stopped at one of the picnic sites for a loo break and to get some ‘slushies’, ice cream and crisps.
A fourth member of the Big Five was spotted next. At first he refused to lift his head but finally we managed to get a good shot of him.
Other creatures we saw today brought us great joy. We are so proud our grandchildren enjoy the smaller stuff as much or even more than the Big 5 and mega stars of the bush. Josh is more aware of the creatures around him and asks questions about how they survive. Simon at only seven remembers the names of all the birds he has seen. Shannon is becoming quite a little expert and Jay is completely converted to conservation and gets mad when he sees bad behavour of other tourists in the park.
They have all enjoyed getting their pictures and here is a selection of what they captured today.
European Bee Eater in flight
Brown Snake Eagle
Turtle in a mud puddle we nearly ran over!
We arrived at Berg en Dal at half past three. The kids went for to the pool and returned a little later saying that Simon had vomited in the pool – I think he swallowed some pool water because he was quite fine when they brought him back. “Jay saved me,” he declared.
We had a delicious chicken casserole that Lauren had made and frozen for us and after our ‘prize-giving’ it was early to bed. They were all winners – Jay for the most enthusiastic spotter. Shannon for naming the most birds. Simon for patience and quick learning of bird names and Josh for spotting birds that Gran really wanted to see. They were thrilled with the little puzzles, key rings, ‘canned lion’ and bath toys they won. Hopefully this is a holiday they will never forget. Grandpa and I certainly won’t.