January 21, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007By Jeremy Schut
Today was our earliest morning yet and was the first day of the walk through Kruger National Park. Eight of us students had to wake up and be ready to meet with our guides at petrol station at 4:15 in the morning and eight others would do the same the next day. Our guides and protectors’ names were Africa and Duncan. We all jumped in the land rover and were on our way before the sun began to rise. On the way we saw a hyena run across the road and a herd of five giraffes cross as well. Once we reached our destination we hopped out and listened to Africa explain the rules of the walk: Walk single file, the two rangers had to lead with their guns, stay quiet while walking, and no running away no matter what. On the walk we only saw a few animals, like impala, kudu, a white rhino and a young rhino skull, but we learned some great tips of the bush. We learned that rhinos have a designated bathroom area and use it to mark their territory. Also we were shown which plants could be used as toilet paper (the weeping wattle) and which plants had edible berries and had a stem that could be used as a toothbrush (the magic quarri). The walk was a great way to experience the bush without being confined to the vans. While half of us were on the walk the other half had the opportunity to go on a morning drive to spot some animals and they were quite successful and saw hippos, elephants, kudu, buffalo, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, and a chameleon.
In the late morning we all went down to the pool to lie out, swim and catch up on some journaling. Then we all gathered back together for a meeting and for a little worship service that we had put together. In the afternoon part of the group wanted to go for a run around Pretoriaskop, where we were staying. Others who didn’t go running had another opportunity to go for a drive for some game spotting. Right out of the gate we ran across some elephants. After snapping a few photos the elephant decided he was sick of us and began to charge us so we in turn decided that would be a good time to leave. In addition we also saw kudu, impala, rhino, and some hippos.
That evening we also had another great game spotting opportunity by doing a night drive. The drive was given by our new friend Duncan and proved to be very successful. The drive started out a little on the slow side spotting animals, which had become somewhat common to us now like, elephants, warthogs, and kudu. Then Duncan received a message on his CB and started to turn the land rover around so I asked him why we were going back and he said, “We are going to see some lions Jeremy.” The excitement was really kicking in now. After driving the area they were last seen and not finding them we ran across another land rover that took us to them. There they were, four lions lying and play fighting next to the road less then 20 feet away. There were three females and one male. Duncan explained that in the morning the lions had killed one of the baboons young and that is why the baboons were yelping in the direction of the lions from a mountainous rock a few hundred yards away. After taking tons of pictures we headed back out to continue our search for animals. We concluded our night excursion by spotting a bushbaby, an owl, and a few buffalo. A little stargazing in a perfectly black clear night sky after our evening meeting rounded out the evening.
Kruger National Park has been very eventful so far and we have seen amazing and exciting animals. To summarize:
Kruger Park fee: a few hundred Rands.
Going on a night safari: a hundred Rands
Seeing a pride of lions up close and personal: Priceless
There are a few things money can’t buy, for everything else there are student loans.