Tuesday, 31 May, 2011
Rhino Sightings: Game Drives from Talamati

Animals, especially predators, are more active in the mornings; therefore, so are we. The gates open at 6:00 a.m., and we exited at 6:15.

Our route this morning: S145, S36, S125, H1-3, S33, S36, S145.

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Southern giraffe, looking particularly African

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African buffalo

Lots of sightings this morning: giraffes, warthogs, elephants, kudus, buffalo, African fish-eagle, hippos, impalas, waterbucks, zebras, etcetera, but most notably my first RHINO! I spotted it munching on brush along the dry riverbed next to the S125. It is forbidden in Kruger to break the outline of your vehicle by hanging out the windows, a rule I freely admit to flouting to get a clear picture of my unattractive unicorn. I was thrilled!

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Unicorn!

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Ole Big Ears

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Kudu

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Hippos and impala

Back at camp after a five-hour morning drive, we ate ham sandwiches and then went to reception to book a sunset drive for tomorrow night, 4:30 to 7:30, for R230 each. Taking a guided excursion is the only way to explore the park outside of the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and get a taste of nocturnal life in the bush.

This time at reception, we did not inquire regarding paying our daily conservation fee. I know that before you leave the park on your last day, they check that you've paid all you owe, so after two strikes yesterday at paying, I thought I'd let the park staff bring it up next. They seemed to struggle enough just with taking our money for the sunset drive, so I didn't want to complicate things.

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Jana relaxing

At 1:30 we left for our afternoon game drive. Our route: S145, S36, S126, H1-3, S125, S36, S145.

On the S126 we saw nothing for the longest time, until we got to the rewarding Ngumulu Pan, where we saw warthogs, many giraffes, and large herds of wildebeest and impala. On the S125 we watched a large herd of elephants with several babies and got a good look at a lappet-faced vulture.

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Wildebeests and giraffes at Ngumulu Pan

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A few elephants of a large herd

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Lappet-faced vulture

At Nkaya Pan there was a rhino that looked like it was just waiting for us to come take it's picture. We watched for several minutes until a lone giraffe came frolicking along and seemed to want to play with the rhino. The rhino was clearly a serious creature and wanted no part of it. When the giraffe got silly, the rhino left!

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Rhinoceros at Nkaya Pan

Camp gates to close at 5:30. We were back at 5:25. I went to the hide for a few minutes and watched them actually close the gates at 5:35.

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Animal hide, Talamati Bush Camp

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Talamati gate

For dinner tonight, I fried up 1.5 pounds of bite-sized beef and mixed in two cans of braii relish. (Braii is Afrikaans for grill, or barbecue; the braii relish was simply tomatoes and onions.) I served the beef and relish over pasta. Tom and I had chakalaka, a spicy African relish, with our meal as well, but I didn't mix it into the food before serving because it would be way too picante for Linda.

This was the hottest day of our trip, a high of 93 degrees, surprisingly warm since tomorrow is the first day of winter here. Hopefully, the weather will stay warm, because our accommodations have no heat!

Today we went to set up a recharging station for our various gadgetry and found that the cottage has exactly two electrical outlets, one for the fridge, and one to be traded back and forth between the microwave and toaster. We unplugged the toaster and plugged in our gadgets. The charging setup goes as follows: outlet, outlet adapter, step-down converter (220 to 110), 2-3 prong adapter, 4-outlet power strip. Only then we can plug in all our extremely necessary gear. For several gadgets, we also must utilize an A/C-to-USB adapter. Whew! It wasn't so long ago when our only travel electronics were a flashlight and camera. Ah, the good old days!

Continue to June 1, 2011

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