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Kruger National Park Safari Day 4

South Africa (Kruger National Park) . 2017 . May 14

This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here

Today was an early morning start for us at 6:30 am, just early enough for to experience the cool African breeze and watch the sun rise over the horizon.  Everywhere around the roads, there were fresh animal dung, evidence of the animal’s recent activity and giving us space to wonder what we wouldn’t have missed out on if we had been on that part of the road just a few minutes earlier.

The early morning drive was a refreshing one, and I welcome the fresh air and cool wind in my face. It however was cold enough to warrant a hoodie  (which I conveniently forgot to bring) and a blanket (fortunately provided by WildWings).

An early morning waterbuck grazing the fields, its white-rimmed bum a constant giveaway as to its identity.  It feeds usually at dawn and dusk, which is the reason why we are seeing him today.

Having based ourselves at Satara Camp yesterday, we were now able to explore other parts of Kruger National Park beyond the Skukuza Camp.  Satara is known as the Big Cats country, and although we did catch sight of a lion, a leopard and a pair of cheetahs during the past few game drives (See Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3) from Skukuza Camp, we are game for more sightings of these Big Cats!

There are quite a number of river systems in this part of Kruger National Park, and the riverine bushes and gorges are the perfect places for elephants, crocodiles,  hippos, and birds.

Our first sighting of a family of hippopotamus in the water.   Hippos like to spend a great deal of their time submerged in the water because it conserves energy for them, and consequently, what we always get to see is the top part of their bodies from the water surface.

It is landscape like this that gives rise to imaginations.  Most people with lesser days to spend at the safari would choose to stay at Skukuza Camp.  Consequently, Satara Camp and the area around it has less vehicles and traffic.  There can be no vehicles in sight for miles and miles.

A zebra and a wildebeest hanging out together.

Well - This is how a Zebra Crossing looks like in South Africa. :)

If you’ve noticed, the zebras tend to like to turn their bums to us.  Camera-shy, I suppose.

This one seems to have heard us whispering..

More zebras crossing the road.

A pair of contemplative zebras.

The stripes on zebras' backs don’t actually make it easy for them to camouflage themselves in the natural landscape.  Instead, the repetitive black and white strips serves to dazzle and make it difficult for predators such as lions to focus on one particular individual.  That’s why zebras tend to travel in groups rather than as an individual.

This is among my favourite pictures of the zebras.

I wonder what disturbance has caused all these birds to rise up in fright.

Across the sandy path, we see clear evidence of animal tracks.  Makes me wonder what had passed here before and what was lurking in the bushes on the bushes on the other side, watching us.

Its morning tea time again, and this time, we were at Timbavati to take that short break.  Its pretty close to the Olifants Camp by now.

Its bird-watching for us here, since there were no larger mammals for us to spot.

Some of the native trees here include the Baobab tree on the right, which can only be found in some parts of Africa.

The crocodile population here is also thriving.

The terrain here is definitely different from the regions around Skukuza Camp.

In that swamp, we had our second spotting of hippos in a single morning.   There are quite a number of them, besides these two.

Anyone noticed the croc on the river bank?  I didn’t when we were there, our attention obviously focused on the hippos only.

On closer inspection, there were actually two crocs on the river bank, either basking under the sun, or ready to fight it out with each other.

Notice the two hippos frolicking in the waters?

Another valley, and quite a few sets of animal tracks in this valley.

Although we can’t identify those footprints from this distance, we could make out at least two facts - No elephants had passed through this valley recently, and there were two distinct sets of animal prints in this valley, both animals differing greatly in weight as judged by the depth of the imprints they left behind.

I love this.  The giraffes and zebras are just as aware of us as we are of them, and it is obvious they are checking us out with that quizzical look on their faces.

Giraffes and zebras count as my favourite safari animals and its a pleasure to see them move together here.

Nice posture there.

Have you ever seen a giraffe run?  We did, and it was a real comical sight.  With their height and instability on those long legs, I almost wanted to cry out to them to be careful not to stumble.

A giraffe watches and assesses the situation as our vehicle approached.

And he walks off slowly, deciding that we are no threat at all.

Satara is really a good base for zebras and giraffes,  with multiple sightings in a single day.

Another giraffe crossing the road.

That’s the biggest cluster of giraffes we saw for the day.

This giraffe is unusually tall, with distinctively darker patches than the rest.   The best thing about being in a safari is being able to get to close to these animals without compromising on safety.

Another river system, which during times of dry season would attract loads of animals for a drink of water.  But for now, its just a beautiful scenery to admire.

Down at another part of the river, we spot a dazzle of zebras.

The landscape of the wilderness is truly untouched and beautiful.

We reached Olifants Camp soon.

And we were here for the amazing Olifants Lookout.

If you haven’t noticed, on the middle right of the above picture, there’s a herd of elephants taking a drink of water from the river.   I counted at least 14 of them, mostly adults, and some adolescents of varying ages.

Very soon, the herd of elephants begin to depart from the river.

I love this lookout for the amazing view of the plains beyond.

If you are observant, you might even spot a waterfall or two.

According to our guide, Olifants actually means Elephants in Afrikaans language.

Imagine the bliss of living here.  I’ll be able to spot wildlife at the watering hole everyday!

Soon we continued on our way in search of more wildlife.

It was truly a good day for spotting zebras.  We encountered this group as they were making their way to the river.   Always safer to keep within a group for them.

Another bull elephant.

Zebras again!  The area around Satara camp is surely full of them.

Great pose there.

All zebras tend to have that same quizzical look and posture when they see us.

A herd of wildebeests.

Chanced upon this creature on the road which was holding up a bit of the traffic.

Turned out it was a white-backed vulture with a broken wing.

I’ve always think back to the day when we met this creature, and the feeling I got when looking at him was that this intelligent guy purposefully got himself onto the middle of the road to plead to the humans for help. He knew that he would not be able to survive the night without some intervention, and the irony was that he himself would become the dead meat that some other predator will be feeding on.

Poor creature.  He did look like he was resigned to his doom.  That’s how cruel life in the wild can be.  There are no second chances.

Admiring the vast expanse of the African plains.  It really does take some luck and chance for wildlife to happen to cross your path at the exact time that you are there.

Elephants are so large, and with such a healthy population, its impossible not to see them multiple times a day.

Zebras and giraffes again.  I’ve noticed that they tend to like to hang out together.

A pair of ostriches!  This was the only time we spotted an ostrich in Kruger National Park.  They are by far the largest and heaviest living birds, and despite their size, are also the fastest running birds!

Our guide tells us that he will be preparing ostrich meat for our dinner that very night.  Apparently, eating ostriches is quite common in this part of Africa and they are quite readily available.

One of the biggest herd of impalas we have seen.  The impalas have beautiful fur and is always very clean, making them the target for handbags and other fashion accessories.

Today, we were scheduled for a sunset drive, and so we were back to the Satara Camp by mid afternoon to have a short rest before the drive.

That’s our little smurf hut.  I actually like it a lot more than the one in Skukuza.

By late afternoon, we were all set and ready for the sunset drive.  This was conducted by Satara Camp rangers, with quite a large group of about 20.  That vehicle that they used almost looked like a armour vehicle!

The sun beginning to set at Satara Camp.

In the fading evening sun, we get to see wildlife in a different light.

In a distance, we spot a pair of white rhinos grazing.  Our second spotting of these rare creatures within a few days.

Sunsets in Africa are truly beautiful.

There’s still so much to see before the sun vanishes for good.

An African eagle perched majestically at the top of the tree.

A last look at the animals before they turn in for the night.

Vultures waiting for their next meal.

A Kori bustard, the largest flying bird native to Africa.

We were very fortunate to witness this double rainbow.

Sunset drives are the best for spotting nocturnal animals.  For our case, the hyenas were all out in full force.

What a dramatic sunset.

Once the night falls, there was really nothing much we could spot.  The entire drive becomes like a massive search party, with people using the strong torch lights provided to flash around the trees, hoping to spot a leopard.

Trust me, I would be irritated if I were that elephant and you are shining that strong light on my eyes.  Its not a very wise thing to do, especially when the elephant is that close to you.

The night drive concluded with nothing extraordinary, but we did get to experience a cool drive and an experience of being out there in the wild at night when the gates to the camp had already closed.   I would have preferred the morning bush walk the other day though.

It was back home to Satara Camp where our guide has already started whipping up a feast for us, for what would be our last night together in Kruger National Park.  Kudos to him, we did have a fantastic time in Kruger.

And that’s the promised ostrich meat, which honestly tasted really good, a bit like steak, but as it was considered white meat, is a much healthier version.

This concludes Day 4 of our 5-day safari drive.  Join us next as we continue on with the rest of the game drives.

This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here

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