South Africa Safari – Day 9

For our first full day at King’s Camp we were, as usual, out before sunrise. We found several white rhinos rather quickly browsing for their morning meal. Rhinos have always held a fascination for me because of their compact, powerful shape. They look as much like a train locomotive as anything else and that giant horn on the front of their head serves its purpose of appearing to be very threatening.

Click on any image to enlarge

In relatively short order we sighted some steenbok, a male Kudu, and elephants.

It was about 7:45 am when we spotted a pride of lions that appeared to be intently watching something. We approached cautiously so as not to disturb them. There was a herd of Cape Buffalo nearby that seemed to capture their full attention. We watched as they slowly got up out of the grass and slowly skulked their way towards the Cape Buffalo. It was fascinating to watch. Eventually they seemed to either loose interest or realized that their chances with this herd were not too great and settled back into the grass.

When we realized that the lions had given up the hunt we moved on to hunt for other animals ourselves. Alongside the river we found one of the leopards that we had seen the previous day. We watched it for a while but apparently it did not want company and disappeared into the bush. We also spotted a troop of baboons in the river bottom. One of the baboons had a baby riding on it’s back, horseback-style. We also saw a few more giraffes, always a delight.

The rest of the morning was fascinating as we came across a couple groups of elephants. We saw one group headed in the direction of one of the watering holes so we went on ahead and waited. In short order, the elephants showed up for their morning drink. Unfortunately, the light was very harsh, terrible for photography. But we got to watch as a family composed of a large bull, a matriarch, one young elephant and one baby came up to the hole for a drink.

They finished their drink and moved on and so did we. However, the same group re-appeared out of the bush and this time we were able to obtain some nice photos.

We arrived back at camp and had our usual splendid lunch. As we left the dining room we noticed that the front lawn was being mowed – South African style.

We began our afternoon drive by telling our ranger that we wanted to find some zebras. We really had not seen that many on this trip and I think that zebras are among the most beautiful of all the African mammals. We took off and had to drive for quite a distance but we were able to locate a small herd and obtain some great shots.

After leaving the zebras we started the long drive back towards camp. Our ranger “Remember” promised us something special. We passed up some more elephants (I think they were following us that day) and headed for one of the large watering holes. We arrived just as the sun was going down, and were astonished by the sight. We drove right into a herd of Cape Buffalo. The herd appeared to be 500 to 1000 animals strong. It was one of the most amazing sights I had seen and certainly one of the highlights of the safari.

The sun had now set and we headed back to camp. However as we passed another watering hole we saw two young spotted hyenas playing in the water. We had to stop even though it was almost dark. Time to crank up the ISO to 6400 and burn some electrons! We photographed the two hyenas for a while and then spotted the mother and an even younger pup. So of course we had to take a few more shots.

We headed back to camp, or so we thought. Some of us noticed that we were going in the wrong direction. We soon discovered that the day’s activities were not yet over. The camp staff had planned an elaborate bush dinner for us. “Oh the rigors of a safari…” Yet somehow we survived the evening.

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