Monday, March 27, 2017

Kruger National Park: The Animals

^^Elephant crossing!^^
 ^^the closest I got to wild animals ha^^

 The thing about going on an African safari is that you expect to go and only care about the big animals. The classic Africa animals. But then you get out in the bush and realize that everything is different from anything you've seen before. So since it's all new, you are equally fascinated and excited to see new plants, trees, birds, and even termite mountains (they are huge!). I spent just as much time being fascinated by the vivid colors of birds as I was being in awe of those majestic animals like the lion, elephant, and giraffe. I have never cared for bird watching before but I was converted!

^^photo by one of our safari mates Ellen who is moving to Okinawa in a few months such a small world!^^
^^elusive owl. I had the hardest time seeing him he is blended in so well^^
^^Zazu! photo by Ellen^^
^^This colony of birds was so cool! The males make the nests to impress the ladies. I'm impressed. See all the pretty yellow birds?^^
 ^^Catch of the day^^

 Then there are the BIG FIVE. They are called the big five because they are considered the five hardest/most dangerous African animals to hunt on foot. We saw four out of the big five. We missed seeing the leopard. I thought I would be so disappointed to not see one, but when you are out in the bush realizing that this is not a zoo and these animals are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the wild, you don't feel disappointed at all. It's very surprising to say ha! Our guide Thulani saw a leopard cross the road while we were watching an elephant, and we missed it. The grass was so tall and the leopard is so incredible at blending in, it was impossible to see after it crossed! Oh well. Like I said, I am still completely satisfied with my safari experience.

The rest of the big five were awesome. The lion. Can't top seeing these kings.

^^photo by Ellen^^

So close!
 ^^big yawn^^
 The elephant. Every time I was so happy to see elephants! And we saw lots and lots. They are awesome creatures. 

The rhino. These are all white rhinos we saw.

And the water buffalo. Their horns look like cool hairdos.
^^photo by Ellen^^

The other highlight was all the mamas and babies we saw. Our South African guide joked that since our safari truck was full of women we were drawn to all the mamas and babies! It was so cool. Circle of life! A highlight was after the first two days of safari, we had only been seeing male elephants (they venture alone a lot while the females stay together with the babies), so when our guide found the elephant breeding ground with at least 20 mama elephants and babies, it was amazing!

 Even the ugly animals had cute babies! This is a warthog baby and a hyena baby. Looks like a puppy. 

Our guide said this impala baby was less than 8 days old! It was hobbling around just like Bambi. Adorable. 

And some other highlights. It was too hot for the hippos to get out of the water. 
Trouble making monkeys. Drama to watch as usual!

^^photo by Ellen^^

 Those beautiful zebras. Incredible colors.
This is the kudu. Check out those horns. Magnificent!

And some wildebeest, impala, and zebras all hanging out together.

Just an incredible experience seeing so many of the magnificent animals God has created. No zoo will ever compare after getting to experience these animals in their completely natural surroundings. Kruger National Park is amazing!!

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