Thursday, June 14, 2012

May 22, 2012: Mad Dash to Skuza

Greetings All,
On our first afternoon in Kruger National Park we decided to do a game drive. Our plan was a bit aggressive and we found ourselves far from the rest camp we were staying at as the sun was sinking lower in the sky. We had to be back by 5:30 before the gates closed. We headed back a bit faster than the 50 KPH speed limit and encountered a guy parked on the side on the road indicating for us to slow down. We thought maybe there was a park ranger ahead. As we rounded a slight bend I caught a glimpse of a cat crossing the road. It was a leopard! We didn't get a great view of her but enough to snap a quick photo (photo 1).

The man who indicated for us to slow down drove up grinning. We weren't sure how he knew the leopard would be there. He must have been following her.

We really had to get back to camp. It was 4:50 and we had 45 km to go to get back to Skuza Rest Camp. No sooner had we left the leopard when I spotted a Serval cat on the side of the road. We snapped a quick photo but we really had to get back to camp (photo 2).

Literally a minute after spotting the Serval, another rarity in the Park was in the road ahead, 4 Southern Ground Hornbills (photo 3).

This was crazy. It was now 4:55 and we were no closer to camp. We started our mad dash in ernest, not daring to go faster than 60-80 kph. We had to get past the gauntlet of Helmeted Guinea Fowl and Chacma Baboons that were congregating on the road, no doubt a conspiracy to make us late getting back to camp.

The last thing we wanted was to hit an animal crossing the road. Sure enough there were animals in the road up ahead. "Stop, Wild Dogs!" I shouted to Marc. There were a pack of 12 or so in the road! They were feeding on a fresh kill. It was now 5:35 and unfortunately we could not stay and watch them. I tried to snap a photo with my camera but it would not focus in the dark. I did manage to get an image that we could lighten up (photo 4).

I wanted to stay longer but Marc didn't want to face the consequences of getting back to camp late. Heck, we were already late.

When we arrived at camp, the gate was closed! The gate attendant was there and was not happy. He asked "OK, why are you late?". "Wild Dogs", I replied. He gave us a warning but told us next time we would be fined. Whew, what a way to start our visit to Kruger National Park! More tales from the Park to come.

We hope all is well back home.
Marc and Peggy

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