Monday, November 2, 2009

Kruger National Park- Part I

Incredible. That's the best way to describe the Kruger. I can check this off as one of the top ten best adventures of my lifetime (so far). I have tons of photos to post, so I won't be too wordy and I'll just let them speak for themselves. But just some background on Kruger: It's not a zoo, it's a game reserve and all the animals roam completely free. Nothing is caged and the park is about 8,000 square miles of nothing but bush and waterways. Even driving on the roads you can only see a fraction of what really makes up the entire park. Because, within the park are somewhat dangerous animals, you're not allowed to get out of your car except in the designated areas (which have their own fence around them). The park was created to protect the animals from people. It seems strange, but without it a lot of these animals would become extinct because of poachers and/or hunters. We stayed there for 3 nights and got about 4 days in of driving and seeing. I took over 800 photos and had a really hard time editing it and deciding what to show, and there's no way I could do it all in one day. So I'll start with the biggest, and what I think, the most extraordinary.

I'm doing elephants first because they were by far my favorite out of all the animals in the park. I don't know what it is, but something about these giant beasts completely melts my heart and takes my breath away. We had a really cool moment driving down a dirt road, keeping our eyes peeled for game and I spotted these guys walking parallel to us. We immediately pulled the car over and realized we had stopped right at the watering hole to where this little family was headed. There was about 9 of them, no more than 20 yards from us. It was amazing and I could feel myself welling up with complete excitement that I got to experience this. And, we had them all to ourselves, no other cars were in sight. It was, without a doubt the closest I've felt to seeing something magic.

This was the big pappa who was a bit wary of us.

He was very focused on us, you can see he has his ears out to make himself look bigger, and he's sniffing us, trying to figure out what we are.

I guess he deemed us safe and he joined the rest of his family.

Taking a mud bath.

This guy was hanging out also really close to the road and posed quite nicely for us.

He had a lot of really deep wrinkles, I thought it made him look wise.

The elephants were the show stoppers for me. I was completely overwhelmed with joy getting a chance to see them in person and in the wild. Elephants have no real predators within the park. The lions are too well fed to bother trying to take down one of these big guys. The only real and unfortunate danger to them are the poachers within the Kruger. A problem the park is trying to get rid of.

I'll post more of our Kruger adventures tomorrow!


Angela Tucker said...

I LOVE the elephant pictures!!

Mrs. Needy said...

This National Park is now on my things to do/see before I die! These pictures are amazing. I hope to be able to see this myself someday. Would you care if I printed some of your pics? We have some cool african masks hanging up and some of your pictures would look amazing with them!

Ashley said...

Of course you can! The park was incredible and well worth putting on the list of "things to do before I die." Glad you like the photos.

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