Friday, December 11, 2009

A big Five Day!

P and I have spent MANY days in the Kruger National Park, especially when our girls were younger.  We have NEVER seen the Big Five in one day, in fact, I have never seen the Big Five!  Lady Leopard has always kept away from my sharp eyes and it has been my mission to see one in the wild.  Little did I know, that this holiday, would be my special trip!

After a long drive on Sunday, we decided to spend Monday at the lodge.  We went for long walks and found two hides which were well camouflaged and we watched some buck quietly grazing on the grass.  We saw lots of bugs and beetles and some really pretty butterflies!  We had a liesurely lunch and went to the Spa in the afternoon - P for an Indian head and neck massage, and me for a De-stress back and neck massage!  What a treat!

This hide was built on stilts right by the water's edge.  The idea is to sit patiently and watch the game from inside the hide.  No talking is allowed.  It is quiet ... dead quiet! 

We left the lodge at the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning.  I packed a picnic lunch and because the Crocodile River bridge had washed away, we had to take the drive to Malelane Gate.  It took us about an hour to get there, and we got through just after sunrise.  It was VERY hot and quite a relief to open our windows and have the cool air rush in.  Besides the usual buck, giraffe and zebra, it wasn't too long before we saw a group of about 50 elephant, ambling along in the bush!

It didn't take long for them to climb up the embankment and cross over the road behind us!

The babies were just the SWEETEST!

Of course one of them had to come closer, just to make sure my adrenalin was pumping really well!

After all this excitement we slowly carried on and around the bend were thrilled to see the SECOND of the Big Five - the two huge Rhino carrying on quietly with their daily chore of eating and eating in the hot sun!

One of my favourite are the buffalo.  They are huge and look so clumsy and yet when they move, they really do get going and can do a lot of damage, in fact they are one of Africa's most ferocious animals.  I was surprised to see them swim across the river when they felt threatened.  I have not seen this before, so it was a trip with lots of firsts!  I love this photograph taken by P.

Look at his eyes!

Three down and two to go!  We looked and looked in the hopes of seeing some cat.  NOTHING!  Eventually we came across a group of people and there was a game ranger in a viewing vehicle.  He told us to watch carefully as he had seen a male lion in the bushes.  After a little frustration and lots of viewing through the binocs - this is what we saw!

Can you see his eyes and nose?  He wasn't keen on being seen and he stood up quietly and walked off without coming out of the bush!  But we saw him ...

...four down, one to go!

We had been told that there was leopard with her cub in the shade on some flat rocks close to Lower Sabie.  P and I had been there earlier, but had not seen anthing.  Knowing that they were there meant we had to go back!  I just couldn't let it go!  Later that afternoon, when it was a LITTLE cooler, we  went back.  I looked and looked and all of a sudden I saw it ...

You have NO idea how I felt.  My heart was pounding in my throat - I could not believe my eyes.  I KNEW, with a little more patience, I would see her baby.  As we looked through our binocs, we watched her flicking her tail, and lifting her head every now and again - all of a sudden, coming down the tree from the left, came the cutest little kitten!  It licked its mother's head and loved her.  The two of them frolicked and played for quite a while until we decided to move on so that other people could have a look at them too!

The name "Big Five" was given to the 5 most dangerous animals in the African bush to hunt. They are not the biggest, but are dangerous and difficult to find!  To see them all on one day was special indeed.  Later in the evening we were sitting back on the deck at the lodge watching the Crocodile River.  The sun was just beginning to set and all of a sudden 8 lioness' came down through the bush and began chasing some impala and waterbuck!  Withing seconds of them coming down, the sun had set and we couldn't see anthing - we heard the running of the buck and splashing in the river - great excitement!  The perfect end to a perfect day!


Marcelle said...

Great photo's!!

I've lived in SA most of my life and never been to a game reserve...looks and sounds like something every African should do!

pam said...


I called the kids over to take a look and they loved it. I told Matthew to tell the kids at school about the pictures. The elephants are amazing!

Firefly said...

I am having cold shivers of excitement. I have seen all five, but have never seen them all on one day, mostly because the leopard down in our part of the country is smaller and shyer. But my day will come. Well done, and specially well done on getting a pic of all of them on the same day.

Avril said...

Oh wow .. the leopard sighting is special!!! Great photos of the Big Five all in a day!
Thanks for your comment on my Cape photos (sorry you are having a problem commenting) - your evening sipping wine at the harbour sounded lovely .. so relaxing with the music in the background!

Rebecca Louise. said...

I love the photos and I am so INCREDIBLY jealous. Wildlife like that at your doorstep. I love it! :)