After a very long drive yesterday (what should have taken six hours actually took nine because of roadworks) we arrived at Marloth Park. Marloth Park is just outside the Kruger National Park – it actually borders it along the Crocodile River – and this means that there are no predators found here. We were supposed to have a braai but because we got here so late we just stopped at the restaurant.
I think this is the appropriate moment to put my feelings about being “in the wild” out there to the world. The wild and many of the animals found here make me very nervous. I’d like to think I’m doing better than years back where a pride of lions or herd of elephants would send me basically hiding under the car seat as my first reaction. I realise my fears (or at least the intensity of some of them) are very out of proportion, but they are real for me nonetheless. This is all relevant because I do not doubt for a second that I will have some interesting (read: embarrassing) stories to tell about my time here. Moving on.
Woke up pretty early this morning to my mom telling me that there was a Kudu outside our kitchen door. They are beautiful animals, very peaceful. Turns out there were plenty females at the house and they came right up to our patio. Some of them were pretty young. It was the funniest thing because the second they heard the packets rustling they all came closer. In Marloth Park you’re allowed to put approved food pellets out for the animals to eat, so obviously they know that the packets rustling equals food. We also had our usual visitors of a pair of Warthog at the house – some of these little Pumbas are as actually rather large!
We drove down along the Crocodile River and managed to see some Buffalo there, so tick one for the Big Five Checklist.
We got into the Park late morning, and our very first sighting of the day was a baboon troop and impala at a Marula tree. The baboons were all playing in it and eating the fruits, while the Impala were eating the fruits that had fallen off and were lying at the base of the tree. They were also occasionally getting chased by the baboons. Watching the baboons jumping around the tree was cool – they’re so agile! We also saw two baboons mating, and the male baboons face was so funny – he had what looked like the biggest grin ever. Lots of laughter took place once we saw this.
Throughout the course of the day we saw Giraffe, Elephant (tick number two!), Crocodiles, Hippo, Vultures, some Ground Hornbills, and a Secretary Bird. We were also lucky and saw some Rhino’s (tick number three). Whenever we see rhino’s I cannot believe people want to poach them for their horns. It’s so wrong. We also got to see two young-ish lions on the rocks and a male lion lying sleeping right next to the road (tick number four, times three!). He was so lazy he didn’t even move with all the cars around him, except to briefly lift his head. While watching the lions on the rocks we also saw this strange creature run along the ground and go straight into the water! Turns out it was an otter -something I’ve never seen before. They’re really odd-looking, running on four legs, but with this massive long tail behind them.
Further down we saw complete chaos in the road again, which only means one thing – there must be a cat. There was a leopard lying on a rock just off the road, but it was very difficult to see it clearly. But still, tick number five! Which means we saw the whole big five! This is very exciting, because we as a family have never seen the big five all together.
We stopped for lunch at one of the rest camps (Lower Sabie). It’s really nice there because they have a massive deck overlooking the river and you can often see a lot of animals there. We saw some bushbuck, and also some more buffalo. Our lunch took FOREVER to arrive, which put a bit of a rush on our exit drive, as you need to be out the park gates by 6pm. We also managed to take a different turn to what we had planned on one of the dirt roads and there was a brief moment where we were definitely worried we would make it on time. But we did – we made it with a full five minutes to spare!
We got home much later than we planned and so we went to the restaurant for dinner again, rather than braai-ing so late. I had lasagne, and we had a cheese and garlic roll. Early to bed, which is pretty customary for the bush!