Safari: Day 2.
We woke up early for the 6:00 AM safari drive. Thankfully, no Germans or Austrians on our Jeep, but we did have an interesting group with us; proving once again that the most interesting animals in the park were in our jeep.
The tour starts out in the dark, and cold, and after about 30 minutes, the sun rises and the removes the need for spotlights. We did see the same lion eating again but didn’t have as good of a vantage point and didn’t stay long; although the pride looked like it had another kill, a zebra this time. The couple in the first row(we were in the second row) were not a fan of animals, which is interesting being on a safari. After watching the lion eat for maybe 5-10 minutes, the lady, asked if we could go, that we’d seen enough, and that lions were dangerous….next, we saw Nyala, Impala, giraffe and a couple buffalo. Once again, the lady asked to leave shortly after seeing each animal as they were “dangerous”. She fell asleep shortly after and began snoring. We took a poll in the jeep and she just missed out being fed to the lions.
The three hour tour, yes, a three hour tour, ended and we jumped in our Renault and headed around the park for our own tour, sans crazy Europeans and frightened ladies. Immediately, we came across a large family of baboons which were climbing next t o us and at one point, we thought they were going to jump into our windows. We came across a large herd of Nyala, a pack of elephants and a cool black rhino. The black rhinos are the aggressive type and one had attacked a car the night before and smashed the entire front of it. Our Renault would have exploded if it touched us. The rules at the game parks are simple- keep a safe distance from the elephants(and rhinos apparently), don’t get out of your car for any reason and don’t drive a Renault. We adhered to the first two guidelines but the third one, we failed to follow. Shortly into our drive, the “check engine” light came on, and then the passenger window refused to go up. Driving on dirt roads, with animals potentially jumping into your cars was an adventure. By the time we finished up the drive, we had a fine layer of dirt over us and the interior, and a baboon in the back seat. Ok, I made that last part up. Not to mention, we had a 2 hour drive back to Durban the next morning with no window.
The next morning we once again drove into the park, and headed to the flatter portion of the park, which was also drier. We spotted a pack of vultures hovering over the road and in the trees and knew a kill was nearby. Thank you, Discovery Channel. Right next to the road, a couple of hyenas were munching on the leftover carcass from a lion kill. We didn’t see the lion pride, but the hyenas and vultures were sharing the meal. Lots of giraffe, wildebeest, elephants, impala and baboons. The strange thing about safaris is how you quickly get sensitized to seeing these amazing animals. We would come across a pack of giraffe that would be 10 feet away, and we would be nonchalant…”yeah, we’ve seen these before…”
We took a short drive out of the park, and stopped at a roadside shack to buy some nick-nacks. The matriarch did not speak English – her dialect was one of the 15 official languages, which incorporated clicking noises. I gave her a coke bottle. OK, enough of my obscure 80’s movie references. After leaving the shack, we headed to another World Wildlife Preserve, the St. Lucia Wetlands. We stopped at a Croc Centre to check out the four types of African Crocs, before heading to lunch on the river. The patio had a view of the wetlands where we could easily see 10-15 crocs on the shore nearby with hippos coming up and down, wading nearby. The restaurant was part of a ski boat club and people were launching boats nearby. Kayaking, and skiing in that water…uh…no thank you but didn’t seem like a big deal to the locals.
After lunch we drove back, in silence with our window down, to Durban. We checked into a really cool B&B, and walked to another nice part of town for the Bafana Bafana game- once again everyone was in their SA jersey. Listening to their loud singing and pride while their national anthem played was really cool. Unfortunately, they didn’t play well, and the crowd was muted a bit. The area was full of pubs and they were all packed with Swiss and Spanish fans, as they had played nearby that night. Watching the SA women dance with drunken Swiss fans was a sight to be seen. And, after watching the Swiss dance, it is confirmed, that I am part Swiss.
Back to the airport tomorrow morning for an early flight to Jo-Burg and the Argentina-South Korea game.