The Africa Journals
A leopard doesn’t change his spots just because you bring him in from the jungle and try to….turn him into a pet… (H)e will always be what he was born: a wild animal.—George Lincoln Rockwell
Our driver pulls into a rest stop in Kruger Park. We climb out of the Land Rover and are given box lunches from a cooler.
I’m curious to see what exotic goodies are in a South African “box lunch.” There are picnic tables in a grove of shade trees, and that’s where we sit.
I am more than pleasantly surprised by the contents of my box lunch. There are things I would never have considered, such as a cold boiled potato topped with a dot of sour cream, and it is delicious. Along with a box of cold juice, there’s a small, tasty quiche, fresh cut veggies, a piece of cold cooked pork, a small dinner-roll-sized sandwich, cheese, a sweet bread, and a couple things I've forgotten and didn't write down. It's a pleasant change from sandwich, chips, and cookie of American box lunches.
I make a point to ask Brian to give the vendor of the lunches a thumbs up from me.
In the long, low building are an outdoor café, restrooms, and a general store. A woman cooks African food under a tented shelter and that’s where the drivers and guides get their lunch.
When I finish eating and taking photos of various birds, I go over to the store to see what’s there. An ice cream bar is there. Also, I spot a package of four lithium batteries for a hundred rand, which is less than ten dollars and I buy a couple packs for my camera. A vague memories says I pay well into the teens for the same batteries back home.
And then it’s back in the safari vehicle and on the lookout for animals.
A band of impala wanders up the road. I've almost stopped taking photos of the sweet animals, but can't resist these.
|I wanted to take this young one home.|
|African fast food. The swiftest of the animals, they also have the double arches on their butts.|
|The ubiquitous warthog|
|A female kudu in the sun|
|A kudu family in the shade|
|Blue wildebeest or blu gnu|
|A pair of hammerkopf, so called because their heads are hammer-shaped|
We stop to look at something and I say, "Back up, back up. Keep going, a little more, THERE! Look at the size of that spider! And there it is--a huge oak spider that must be five inches long.
We hang back, but it's clear to us it's a leopard, a leopard that doesn't give a whit that two safari vehicles are behind it.
|I don't know what was in that bush, but it was intriguing enough to make the leopard cross the road.|
|And then go back.|
|Are you still following me?|
Finally, after leading us down the road for a quarter mile, it walks off about 50 feet and settles down.
We drive to another part of the park, but not too far away. There's something dark in the brush.
We watch, hoping for a better view.
|Can't make out what it is.|
|An eye and two ears.|
|This is what happens when nothing happens for a long time and the camera goes to sleep.|
|Wow! The highly endangered African wild dog, also known as the African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, African painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf. Brian thinks it should be called the African wolf.|
|The Grey Go-Away bird, so named because its frequent calls sound like it's saying, "Go away." It looks like a large cockatiel, but is all gray. Hard to get a good exposure when you're aiming at the bright sky.|
|There were termite mounds in all the parks, but this one was closest to the road. It's about four or five feet tall.|
We head back to the hotel, stopping briefly at park headquarters. What a day. Two early leopard sightings, and then the third leopard escorting us along the road! The Big Five in one morning, and the wild dogs. Plus, at last, some good photos of the Lilac-breasted rollers.
Tomorrow: two safari drives in the park. Can't wait.