Kruger National Park Safari & Johannesburg

Day 12

Up at 5:50 am, not quite as early as the morning before but we knew it would be a long day and wanted to get in an extra hour of sleep. We also had to have our bags packed and ready to go for 6:30 as this was our last day in the park, and we would be getting dropped off at our pick up point right after the morning safari drive.

Lisa was still feeling quite ill but she managed to pull it together and was ready by 6:30. Elvis grabbed our bags and tossed them into the safari truck Lisa and I hopped in and we were off.

Water Buffalo in Kruger National Park

Water Buffalo in Kruger National Park

I asked Elvis as soon as we got in if there had been any major spotting yet this morning and he said no, so we just took our time driving as we exited the camp.

We spotted a few rhinos, giraffes and elephants not to long into our morning drive when all of a sudden there was some chatter on the CB radio, then Elvis kicked it into high gear, we were traveling through the park at high speed. I immediately crouched down into the cab and asked Elvis whets happening and he said there was a leopard sitting not too far ahead. So we crossed our fingers that it would still be there when we arrived.

It took about 5 minutes to get to the spot where about 4 or 5 other safari trucks and cars were parked alongside the road and sure enough there was a leopard lying in the long grass about 75 meters from the road. He was a little hard to see as most of his body was covered by the long grass. While we were sitting and watching the cat let out a yawn and Elvis said that there is a good chance he is going to get up and start walking, so he pulled the truck ahead about 25 meters. Sure enough the cat got up and started walking parallel to the road and we were set up in the perfect spot to get a few shots off with the camera. Unfortunately the leopard was still too far away and I had opted out of purchasing a longer telephoto lens for the trip… oh well.

Leopard in Kruger Naitonal Park

Leopard in Kruger Naitonal Park

We struck around for a few more minutes and then continued on our way.

We drove in the direction of the camp (name of camp) where we had breakfast the day before. We didn’t see much for the next hour or so and we stopped at the camp around 9 and had breakfast; I had had an awesome omelette the day before so I did the same thing again. Lisa was feeling better but not much so had some cereal and fruit again. We had an hour to kill but breakfast only took us 30 minutes so Lisa and I walked down to the far end of the visitor area to watch the monkeys, and take some photographs.

We were photographing the monkeys when all of a sudden one, two and then all of them started to get closer to us. One of them eventually came a little too close for Lisa and my comfort and we turned around and started running. I could feel one of them touch the back of my legs while I was running. Eventually they stopped chasing and we stopped running, but it was a close call.

The monkeys are cute but they have a pretty good set of teeth on them as well. That incident was enough monkey business for us; we took the rest of our time and sat as far away from the monkeys as possible.

Another Leopard in Kruger Naitonal Park

Another Leopard in Kruger Naitonal Park

We still watched them but from a distance; we saw them harass a few other couples as well and I actually saw a monkey run up to a table and steal someone’s entire lunch right off their plate.

After breakfast we headed back out and took a different route that we hadn’t been on before. There seemed to be a lot less animals down this one trail. We saw some more giraffes and elephants, wart hogs but nothing we hadn’t seen a dozen times yet. As we turned off the main trail onto a side trail a passing by car waved down Elvis and proceeded to tell him that there were 3 lions at the watering hole up ahead. We didn’t drive as fast this time but we eventually made it to the watering hole. When we got to the watering hole all we could see were gazelles, we searched for a while and eventually another vehicle had to show us the location. I could only see two lions, but they were lying under a tree some ways off in the distance, I didn’t even bother taking out my camera, as they were just too hard to spot and really the only thing you could see clearly was the head of one of the lions.

I asked Elvis for his binoculars instead so Lisa and I just took turns with the binoculars. The lions didn’t look like they were going to move anytime soon so we took off. The rest of the morning drive was pretty uneventful but as we got closer to the afternoon and were within a few kilometres of the gates to exit the park we got a call on the radio, it was from one of the safari trucks that had been right behind us – they had just spotted a leopard, so Elvis turned the safari truck around and rushed back.

As we pulled up the other guide in the safari truck said that the leopard had gone into a culvert that was below us. On one side was an empty river bed and on the other side was a small pool of water, Elvis was betting that the leopard was thirsty and was going to come out on the other side for a drink of water.

Elvis our Kruger National Park Safari Guide/Driver, Lisa and Myself

Elvis our Kruger National Park Safari Guide/Driver, Lisa and Myself

2 or 3 minutes of waiting and we were rewarded with a great view of the leopard emerging from the culvert and heading towards the pool of water. But as he exited the culvert he looked around and saw us hanging outside the safari trucks, so Elvis and the other guide ducked down in the trucks and instructed us to do so as well, they said the leopard will get scared if he sees a bunch of people standing up inside the safari trucks.

So we ducked down and eventually the leopard walked down to the watering hole and started lapping up the water. By then a few other safari trucks had shown up so Elvis moved out of the way for them and we continued with our ride.

We exited the park around 11:15 and headed back to the small town of Hazy View where the headquarters of Thompson’s Safari’s was located and where our drop off point was.

We ended up sitting around the drop off point for an hour or so before our shuttle van arrived to take us back to Johannesburg. We said our goodbyes to Elvis and got a group shot before we left.

We and another Canadian named Ted were the only ones in the van for the ride back. Ted hopped in the front and Lisa and I sat in the back.

South Africa Countryside, Just Outside Kruger National Park

South Africa Countryside, Just Outside Kruger National Park

As we started to drive off Lisa and I noticed that there was no air coming out the rear vents of the van and it was extremely hot in the back. The driver pulled over after playing around with the controls with no luck to check out the situation. He couldn’t do anything and just radioed in to the office that the air conditioning in the back of the van was broken.

At this point Lisa was not feeling very good, I had guessed that she had heatstroke the night before and this morning, the heat in the van was only making things worse. And to top it all off, we were taking a scenic route home which entailed driving on windy mountain side roads – it was basically the perfect storm for Lisa.

For about an hour or so I wasn’t sure she was going to key it, she was sweating profusely but eventually she calmed herself down and we managed to get the driver to point one of the front vents in our direction and Lisa settled down.

From what I saw of the drive through the mountains, the scenery was incredible, I believe the highest point we reached was 2100+ meters high; it was really high. It was kind of neat because when we got to the top we didn’t just come down, the mountain kind of flattened out at the top and there were farm pastures at the top. It was kind of odd; it was like a different world that was way above the rest of the land.

Another highlight of the mountains was passing by a small piece of flat land that was located in the peak of the mountain and on it there were 100’s of baboons sitting around, they were all spaced out by about 2 or 3 meters apart and looked like statues, it was really neat.

After getting out of the mountains we stopped in a little town at a nice little restaurant for lunch. Lisa was glad to get out of the van and dashed right into the building.

I had an opened faced trout sandwich which was excellent and Lisa had a chicken burger; I ended up eating both plates as Lisa was just too sick and didn’t feel like eating.

After lunch we were back in the van, I covered up the windows this time with some shirts we had in our back packs to keep the sun from shining into the back of the van and we both fell asleep.

When we awoke we were about an hour drive outside Johannesburg so Lisa and I stayed up the rest of the way and just looked outside at the beautiful countryside.

Back in Johannesburg our driver dropped us off at the hotel; we had been picked up at the Met Court Hotel just by the airport. Actually there are two hotels with the same name located right across from one another and driver dropped us off at the wrong one; so we just walked across to the other side to the correct hotel and checked in.

Lisa hopped into the showered while I ran across the street and got some food for Lisa and brought it back to the hotel room. Lisa was feeling better by this time but not a 100%. By the time a got back to the room with the food Lisa was out of the shower and ate the chicken wrap and fries I brought back for her.

Worried that she was going to be sick tomorrow she went to bed while I uploaded the pictures to our blog and wrote about the day’s adventures in the travel journal.

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