I Know Rhino

Trip Start Nov 10, 2010
1
7
18
Trip End Nov 26, 2010


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Flag of South Africa  , Mpumalanga,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Up early again, having packed last night, I was picked up a bit after 5:30. This time, my guide is not friendly and difficult to understand. He fits in nicely with the three other people on my game drive. Today, I will be entertained and uplifted by animals, not people.

The sky is blue and the air is crisp and the animals are nowhere to be found. For the first hour, it is just us humans. Then, things come alive. We see rhino aplenty. Lions are dozing here and there but, sadly, both here and there are far from the roadside. Elephant start appearing.

My guide doesn't understand that the guy in the back seat (me) doesn’t have the same view through the brush as he does in the front of the vehicle. That’s because the brush in Kruger is dense and the ten foot distance between him and me defines a clear view or a blocked view. He got the clear view more often than not.

He drives fast. The roads are bumpy.

The custom here is that after a photo stop, the guide asks, "OK?" The people are supposed to reply, “OK.” That means all are finished with photos and all are ready to move on. I learned how this works from both Chadrack on Sunday and Alfred on Monday. My unnamed guide on this Tuesday asks, “OK?” and throws the vehicle into gear and away we go. I got used to him after a while but, sadly, I cannot recommend his services to you.

The services of one of the bull elephants we spotted this morning could be wholeheartedly recommended to the cows. But, chances are, since he is young he won’t get the opportunity to relieve his frustration soon. Only the dominant males—and they are older, bigger and stronger than this guy—are worthy of mating. The bulls, both young and old, dominant or not, are ostracized by the matriarch and not allowed to stay with the herd except during mating. So, all of these lone elephants—the ones we have seen foraging by themselves—are males. I have nicknamed them all Paul in honor of me.

In Kenya, we saw a few rhino. In Tanzania, we saw a few rhino. Here in South Africa at Kruger we see rhino after rhino after rhino. Poachers are doing their best to kill these rhino so the Chinese can have their horns as an aphrodisiac but Kruger seems to be winning. Rhino are, comparatively speaking, all over the place.

Mostly, this morning’s drive is a let down from the adventures here during the last two days.

I am back at Kruger Park Lodge by 12:15. My schedule says I should expect to be “fetched” at 12:45. That gives me time to pen this prior to my 16:40 South African Airways flight to Johannesburg. I arrive at 17:30 and make my way to the Airport Grand Hotel, five minutes from the airport, to spend the night.

My adventure continues tomorrow with a flight from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls where I stay at the Kingdom Hotel on the Zimbabwe side. But, I am getting ahead of myself. More to come tomorrow.
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