Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pilanesburg, for real 9/13

So, after the extended stay at the sketchy ATM place, thanks to the POS, we made it to Pilanesburg. Before we even entered the gate, we saw two elephants lumbering up the hillside. Immediately after getting in the gate, we see more elephants on another hillside. We're off to a great start. I won't even attempt to give you a play by play of all the animals we saw, or the order in which we saw them. I'll just give some highlights. We saw lots and lots of wildebeest. They were everywhere. We'd get all excited like maybe we were coming upon some Cape Buffalo (which neither Darin or I have ever seen) or one of the many species of bok, or kudu or anything other than wildebeest. Nope, it was always the wildebeest. In fact, we drove past the same herd at least 3 times when we were driving on parts of the hippo loop (one of the “trails” you can take) and each time the kids were like “wildebeest!!!”. Yep, and they haven't moved since the last time we came past. We saw lots of zebra too, some of them were right on the road side and would just stare at us. There were lots of little baby zebra too, which were super cute. I don't remember seeing any baby wildebeest. Perhaps that would have endeared them to me more. One of my favorite animals to see are the warthogs. I don't know why, but I just like them. We saw some giraffe, but not as many as we have seen in the past, and we didn't get very close to any of them. We did see way more hippo than usual. They were all lounging on the banks of the dams and other water sources. There were several babies in the mix, which are always fun too see. At one watering hole, we saw both hippo and several crocodiles. I don't know that we have ever seen crocodiles, except maybe some eyes poking out of the water. Jori did not want to leave the crocs. She waved a sad good bye to them. We saw a lot of rhino too. Right before we were leaving the park, we even saw one rhino cross the road in front of us and then start running across a field. That thing was hauling some serious tail! After scouring the landscape for more of the Big Five (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, cape buffalo) Darin thought he saw something under a tree. Thanks to his 20/15 vision, we saw two lions laying under a tree. At first we couldn't decide if they were really lions. “Yes, they totally are. I saw an ear move”, “No, I'm wrong, they are just rocks”, “No wait, I definitely think they are lions”, and so on and so forth. Then one of them turned over onto his back and stuck his paws up in the air (just the fact that he turned over proved that they weren't rocks). We had a pair of binoculars and were all taking turns hanging out the windows (totally not what you are supposed to do in a game park, but we had “spotters” checking for anything that might be ready to attack). I don't know if we even took any pictures of the lions because even after we knew that they really were there, it was still hard to see them. The coolest experience we had involved a herd of at least 16 elephants. There were huge ones, medium ones, small ones and even a very tiny baby one. So stinking cute. We had seen them in some trees and realized that the road we were on curved around to the other side of the trees. They seemed to be moving that direction, so we headed around the curve to catch them on the other side. It truly was amazing. They just kept coming and coming. The whole time the kids were sleeping. We talked about waking them up, but decided against it. Anyways, once again we hung out of the windows to get the best camera angle. Nice and safe. So the elephants keep coming closer and closer. Another car was coming towards us and I think some elephants did not like them. They kind of got driven farther back. We had been left alone until one medium sized elephant ended up right along side our van and then it got a little mad. It kind of flipped its massive ears and made a grunting noise. Darin floored it and we headed down the road a few hundred feet. We just sat and watched as the rest of the elephant crossed the road. The mom with the littlest baby took her sweet time going across. I think she was making sure that we were not a threat. The little baby hooked it's trunk on its moms tail. Super cute. Good times with the elephants. Earlier in the day, before we saw the lions, a car flagged us down and told us to follow them because there was a huge line of cars all watching something and for sure it had to be lion or why else would that many vehicles be pulled alongside the road?? So we followed and when we arrived we could not tell what everyone was looking at. It ended up not being lions, but was an impala that had just given birth. Kind of a let down when you are expecting lions, but it was neat to see such a tiny, very newborn impala, barely able to walk, still getting afterbirth licked off of it by its mom. Good job God! We stopped for lunch at one of the game lodges inside the park and we drove out of the park to get some snacks at a grocery store around 4. Then we headed back to the park until closing time at 6:30. That's when the animals are just getting active, so it was disappointing to leave right then. We had a full day and saw lots of amazing things. The kids were exhausted and after feeding them some Easy Mac (the one the mouse from “Bump in the Night” didn't chew through), they went right to bed. We were going to Braai, but couldn't get the charcoal going. We ended up cooking dinner in random pots and pans provided by Leisure Farms. When I say “we” I mean everyone else. I was putting kids to bed and laying in the room until they were asleep. Much better than cooking dinner! We ate outside, then went in and played cards for a while. Then it was time for bed so we could get up in the morning and head to Predator World. Stay tuned.....

No comments: