Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pilanesburg 2009

This last week we had the opportunity to go to Pilanesburg National Park. This is a "Big 5" park. A Big 5 park is a game reserve that contains elephants, rhino, leopard, lion, and Cape buffalo. This is a benchmark for parks in Africa. We were on our way to Johannesburg for a doctor's appointment. We left the house a 4:00 am to get there when the gates opened at 6:30. We stopped at a gas station to fill up and eat a little breakfast that we had packed. We got into the park at 7:00. We had packed lunch and enjoyed it in a secure area inside the park. We drove around until about 1;00 pm and then made our way to J-burg. We always love going to Pilanesburg.
These are four of many giraffe that we saw throughout the park. They were on top of a mountain/hill and we first saw them on the first on the other side. We were close to them - about 30 yards. There are 2 or 3 others that you can't see on the other side.

We really never get tired of seeing these animals. It is fun just to stop the car and watch them. Seeing them run is an experience. They shouldn't be able to travel as fast as go.

Well, what can I say. It had dare all over it!!! In the background is a small lake where some hippo live. Unfortunately, you can't see them too clearly. They just look like big mounds of dirt. Most of the time they are just sunning on the bank. We did see one swimming and snorting around in the water.

This is a Crimson-breasted Boubou. I saw him returning to our car from a "hide." The red is brighter than this picture shows. It is very bright. We have about 10 other pictures, but could never get a good, clear, still picture.

This is a bird that I was watching while we were in the "hide". I have been looking in the bird book we have and I haven't been able to identify it. He would stand up and fan his feathers and then sit back down. He was doing this over and over.

After several trips to this park, we finally saw some lions. They were on the hunt. About a minute before we made contact with the lions, we saw a wart hog running past us. We just thought we saw a warthog. Actually, we were seeing "lunch" for these lions - more like a snack! We watched this situation for about 15 minutes - moving forward, backing up, turning around! At times they were within 20 feet of the car.

This was after they lost sight of lunch. This was on the left side of the road. The crossed over the road and then just "pluncked"down and I guess was just going to wait around.

Can you find the lion in the picture. There really is one in there. He is close - not 10 feet away!

Within 15 minutes of arriving at the park, we found 2 rhino getting breakfast. At times, they were no further than 8 feet from our vehicle. They were just eating and not concerned at all with us at all. There were two together. Andy had his window down as we were driving up to where they were and Bethany said, "I hope they don't poke Andy!"

Just a baby zebra - just cute!