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SilverSpoon on Safari: Kruger Park Day 2

With an alarm call at 5am the next day, Mr S and I scrambled to get ready to meet our safari guide. As it was still dark, we were guided to the lounge area for our pre-breakfast and to meet Collen, Given and the other guests who were sharing our vehicle.

That morning we saw giraffes for the first time, and as with the elephants, I was astounded by the sheer size. Did you know the giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world? Even the baby giraffes are taller than most humans! Collen told us giraffes pretty much spend their lives standing up, not only do they sleep standing up, they also give birth on their feet.
As I mentioned, antelope are common on the reserve and we saw more herds of impala that morning.

Another common animals to see are zebra…

 

 

The zebra are beautiful creatures and just like snowflakes, no two are identical and the striped coat allows them to merge into a big mass so that individuals are difficult for predators to identify.

Of course, I made good use of my new safari outfits, though I was slightly disappointed that others were in jeans and t-shirts. I still stuck with the neutral clothes cos it made me feel more authentic, plus my trousers were bug repellent and the fleece was great for the chilly morning.

Disney movies such as Snow White and The Jungle Book have led me to believe that vultures are rather mean antagonistic creatures. But vultures are actually extremely useful in the circle of life, they eat rotting meat, therefore clearing it away from the land. Most animals would be poisoned by foul meats but the vultures highly destructive gastric juices kill bacteria making it safe for them to eat. They’ve got a bad rep but actually they are nature’s clean up crew.

These guys really are evil though, and you have to have a total eagle eye to spot a crocodile, they just look like logs! Crocodiles kill hundreds of people a year in Africa; a crocodile attack is incredibly quick and sudden and they will kill their prey by grabbing it, dragging it underwater and drowning it. Eeek!

You wouldn’t expect it but the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa and is responsible for more human fatalities than any other large mammal. The animals can be extremely aggressive and territorial if threatened and are very quick and huge in size.

As we gazed at the hippo, Collen suggested we stop and get out of the car for a while. Though I didn’t fancy participating in a game of hungry hippos or crazy crocodiles, Collen reassured us it was fine.

Though this guy made me want to hastily retreat!

As Given set up the coffee and snacks at the front of the car; it gave us a photo opportunity with the car and me in my full safari outfit…sexy, eh?

As we drunk our coffee Collen told us more facts about Kruger Park. The knowledge of the guides is just so incredibly vast, they know every insect and bird and all about the flora and fauna.

Throughout the day spotting one particular animal had been on the minds of our guides: a leopard. The guides were incredible at tracking down the animals, looking out for prints, droppings and gauging the reactions of other animals. Of course, they radioed other cars but as Singita is the only resort in the concession there isn’t a huge amount of ground covered by all the vehicles. At one point Collen and Given got out of the car to have a look around for the leopard.

‘Aren’t you scared a lion will attack you’ I asked.
‘No, actually the most scary animals are the buffalo, they can charge at you and there’s no escaping them…’

Finally our guides located the leopard and you see why it had been so difficult to spot.
‘A leopard can hide behind a blade of grass’ they camouflage so well with their surroundings and are the most elusive and difficult of the big cats to find in the wild. We were very lucky to see one.

You’ll probably be familiar with the term ‘Big Five,’ a phrase coined by game hunters to describe the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot. The animals included are the elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard, the latter being the most difficult to spot.

 

Though similar in appearance to the cheetah, the pattern of the leopard is different and the spots are known as rosettes because they are similar to roses.

 

Unlike lions, leopards are solitary animals and only spend time with other animals when they’re mating or raising young.

 

Isn’t he a beautiful creature?

After the excitement of seeing the leopard it was time to head back to the lodge. Mr S sat by the pool, I blogged and at 4.30 it was time to do it all over again.

 

 

Collen found a family of hyenas playing around in the mud. Now I don’t really like hyenas and I’m purely basing this on the fact that the hyenas are mean to Simba in the The Lion King…but also they look a bit like dirty dogs! In actual fact they are completely unrelated to dogs and are actually more closely related to weasels or mongoose.

The well-known ‘laugh’ of the hyena is a wail or howl that they use to alert other members of their clan that they’ve found food.

 

Check out this little cutie that we saw hiding in the rocks.

Next we happened upon a pride of lions awaking from their slumber…

 

Lions don’t need to eat every day and a kill big enough can satisfy them for days. But Collen told us these lions hadn’t eaten for days….and they were hungry.

 

The female lions do the majority of the hunting for the pride and as the woke up and stretched, they headed down the grass quietly looking for an impala or a zebra to satisfy their hunger. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty scared, we were sat in our open vehicle, it was dark and we were surrounded by hungry lions…

But we were in safe hands and it was incredible to observe the lions moving stealthily through the grass.

Though I have to admit I felt a little relieved when we headed back to the lodge this time!

It had been the most incredible day and our time at Kruger Park was at an end, but there was plenty more to see at our next stop in Sabi Sands.

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