Ok, so here it is, the first Blog posting of our 2010 Kruger photo safari. After weeks of planning and waiting we are finally here. What a change nine months makes. Last September the bush was very dry and the game hungry and thin. However the rains were obviously good and the bush is now lush and dense and the wildlife fat and healthy.
This may be good for the wildlife but unfortunately it is not good for photography as it is very difficult to see more than a few meters off the road. Nevertheless, considering the first day was mainly driving into the park and then on to the camp the day was quite productive with an unusual mix of animals photographed.
First up, not too far from the park entrance gate was a Rhino mother and calf resting just off the road in thick grass. The Rhino was covered in flies and ticks which were really annoying her as she was never still for more than a few minutes before she shifted in an attempt to clear them from her eyes. Given the amount of flies and ticks on the Rhino’s hide we were surprised that there were no Drongos or Oxpeckers in attendance to sort out her problem.
You never know what you will see next. Not too far down the road from the Rhino we were stopped by this Tortoise slowly ambling down the middle of the road. Of course, as everyone knows Tortoises are not the fastest of land animals and by the time it had moved aside to allow the car to pass there was a traffic jam of vehicles piled up behind and in front of us.
Sod’s Law, less than a kilometer further on we had to stop again, this time to allow a Chameleon to cross. Now, if you think Tortoises are slow, try waiting for a Chameleon. This time round there was a jam reminiscent of rush hour in Bangkok. Fortunately for us both times we were in the front and didn’t have to listen to all the cursing from the cars at the back that couldn’t see what the problem was.
A perfect first day would have been the Big Five before lunch. This wasn’t to be, but we scored three out of five…not too bad. The Lion we saw was just off the road, but lying down in very tall grass. We would never have seen it if it were not for a bunch of cars blocking the road. Our only glimpse of it was its head and paw as it rolled over. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
Anyway, we did score a number of Elephant, the most interesting of which was a breeding herd of about fifteen cows and calf’s led by a huge matriarch. Although the bush was very dense they were moving very fast and cleared the road in only a few minutes.
A little later we came across this young bull with what appeared to be a misplaced tusk that hung down at an unusual angle. However this didn’t seem to bother him as he busily striped leaves off a low shrub about 10m from the car.
Besides the animals, the Kruger birdlife was a show all of its own and we came away from the first day with a number of good shots. Unfortunately only a few can make it to the Blog today, the first being this Lilac Breasted Roller. It wasn’t well situated and the backlight was too strong, but it still photographed well.
The second is this Yellow Billed Hornbill which obligingly posed within perfect camera range.
As usual, like on every safari, Impala abound and no one pays them any attention. I think we were the only car to stop and photograph them. As a consequence we managed to see a number of the rams fighting for the right to acquire a harem of females and come away with a series of fantastic shots of the action as illustrated by the main photo at the top of the Blog. I also managed some good portrait shots such as the one below.
Finally, to close off I’m inserting this nice shot of a young Vervet Monkey who entertained us with his antics for half an hour next to the road.
Getting access to the Internet is difficult, and I’m not sure how often I can upload an update. However, I will keep trying. Day two was full of unusual surprises and again fantastic photos.