Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kruger National Park (second time around, days 1-3)

The next day i got picked up from the sabie backpackers and headed to Kruger again, to try my luck for lions. We stayed in a nice lodge, where I shared a room with an Argeninean girl who was in my tour group. It was lik e a little slice of home. We stayed up singing songs that we knew a kids, and rhymes, and fantasizing about steak and dulce de leche icecream. Everyone made fun of us because the volume in which we spoke went up about double the second we spoke in spanish, and our arms started gesticulating like crazy.

In the morning we went on a game walk, learning about tracks, trees and animal dung. We lucked out and saw a herd of Buffalo, and a few rhinos. We had to leave in a hurry as we were on foot and the buffalo had already given us a few warnings that we were not welcome.

After the walk we went on a cultural village tour, which i found dissappointing as the capetown township tour was much better. Then we drove into Kruger and did a game drive to our camping spot, stoppiing to see a couple of lions shagging by the side of the road, and a couple impala sparring together.

Me playing with shadows again..

Marina, the argentinean girl and i shared a tent, and spent more time laughing as we tried to put it up in the pitch of night, with me inside the tent and her outside trying to work it without flashlights since both of ours were broken. The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and were through the park gates at 530am. A couple hours game driving and we saw more lions, all laying about lazily staring at us, big yellow green eyes and all.

When we got back we were exhausted, having not gotten much sleep the night before as we were up all night chatting. After a seriously needed nap, we headed for a 4 hour game drive again, since the clouds made it cool enough for the animals to want to come out and graze.

Marina peering through the window of the truck

Needless to say the highlight of that drive was a leopard, who walked beside the truck and stopped to stare right at me. I'll never forget what its like to look straight into the eyes of such a beautiful cat, and kno w that it sees you, and is looking back at you. He stared so much i got scared and wondered if he would jump, but he just stared, crossed infront of the truck, and walked off to the watering hole for a drink. How can you top that? a Leopard an arms distance away showing he is aware of you. Simply amazing.

We kept driving seeing baboon, hyena, and all the rest of it, but the leopard was what stuck. That night most of the group went on a game drive after steak braii (barbeque), though i stayed at camp having decided I got my fill of animals. The entire tour group was lovely, and Marina and I had nicknamed the elderly couple from Texas "los abuelos" (the grandparents) because they were so cute and always concerned for everyone. Most of the time we spent driving around looking at animals Marina and I spent wondering what they would taste like and how we would prepare them. Zebra steak, Giraffe rump, gunea fowl in a wine sauce.. it was so good to have a fellow argentinean with me who also missed empanadas and parilladas.

We broke camp early the next morning and headed along the panorama route, which i had already done on the previous tour, so i took the opportunity and bought souvenires. We arrived inJohannesburg and all headed out for dinner. The hotel had a trampoline so before going to bed, i made marina jump, as she had never been on one before. The next morning we all parted ways, with marina promising to eat a steak in my memory when she arrived back in buenos aires.

Bjorn, the infamous Belgian guide!

Me and Marina on the evening we went out for dinner..


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