Monday, August 8, 2011

Kruger Park visit

If you've checked into to my blog recently, you may have wondered why I dropped out of cyberspace for a while. With my two daughters visiting from overseas and a couple of short trips to Kruger Park, time just rushed by and the blog I intended to post some weeks ago is still waiting for a photo of the embroidery in progress. Needless to say not much stitching has been happening.

In the meantime I have some photos of the family visits and our trips to Kruger. In April, Bronwyn and Simon brought Jake from London to meet his South African family.  At the same time Cindy managed a short visit from Bangkok with little Liam. Its not often that both our daughters are together in Cape Town and even rarer for four generations of the family to be together.

Cindy & Liam (left), great granny Mary Crooks (84) and Bronwyn & Jake

Jake listens carefully to great grandpa Noel Crooks (87) singing to him.

Rod, Simon and Bronwyn with Jake
You can see that is was quite hot the day we visited this hide at Ngwenya Lodge, overlooking the Crocodile River. Kruger Park is just on the other side of the water. As silence is requested, we could only visit the hide with Jake when we knew that no one else was there looking for game coming down to the water to drink.

On a day trip into Kruger and with the grass still quite long in April we were fortunate to see a cheetah. He was lying on an anthill surveying the surroundings from his vantage point. The only indication that he was aware of the 20 or so cars jammed up on the road behind him, all trying to find a gap through the bush to see him, was an occasional backward angling of his ears to listen to to us.

 A white rhino and her calf stepped out into the road in front of us. I was concerned that she might object to our car being so near to her calf, but they calmly walked down the road for a few hundred metres, stopping only once to eye us following behind, before disappearing into the bush along a well worn track. It is exciting to see these solidly built animals up close in the wild and we all let out a collective breath when they put some distance between us.

Driving along at 50kmph along the roads in the Kruger Park, you know there is something exciting happening when you see a traffic jam up ahead. A pride of lions - we counted 14 in all - had apparently crossed the road and we were just in time to see them melting into the bush. Of the 3 or 4 loitering next to the road, this male was closest, but far off enough that we felt safe to wind down the window and take some photos. Just then Jake let out a loud baby-like wail. The lion whipped his head around and fixed his eyes and ears exactly on the open window. I have to say its scary to have a lion focusing on you directly with such intense interest. It didn't take long to wind the window up again! Incidentally not 2km down the road we'd come across a gang of about 20 workmen scything the grass along the verge. The armed ranger was sitting on one end of the strung-out group looking quite bored. If only he knew what was up ahead.

Someone in our car, probably eagle-eyed Bronwyn, spotted a couple of young elephant. We stopped and within moments a herd of more than 20 had appeared with some really tiny ones among them and they crossed the road around us. Was my heart racing! At one stage I even had to close my eyes and my entreaties to "Go Simon, go!" were to no avail. We couldn't move. At the tail end, a young male stopped right next to us and before our eyes curled his trunk around a small tree and pulled it out of the ground. Just like that. I expected him to eat the nice green leaves, but no. Very methodically, he broke off one root at a time and holding it with his trunk, carefully brought it up to his mouth to strip off the bark. Only then did he put the root in his mouth and eat it. It was like looking out the car window and watching a live version of National Geographic.
Rod, Lyn, Cindy and Paul with great grandpa Crooks, and great step-ouma Annie holding Liam
In July, Paul was able to visit from Bangkok with Cindy and they were able to take Liam to meet his great grandparents in Nigel. Why is it that those photos that you take with a self-timer are always so hilarious?! We then all spent time together at Ngwenya and visiting Kruger Park. It was fun all being together and we saw lots of game in the two days we visited the park, but this blog is now rather longer than I planned, so 'till next time... take care!

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