The Kruger, part 2 (by Jenni)

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Hey, lazybones! Wake up . . .
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. . . . or you’re gonna miss THIS!

We scheduled a sunrise safari in Kruger and ended up having a private safari because we were the only ones signed up for the crazy 4:30 am game drive.

The drive was pretty uneventful and I was pretty much regretting getting up so early.  Then, near the end of the three hour drive, we came across a male lion walking down the road. We followed right behind him for quite some time before our driver sided up to him. The lion stopped and checked us out a bit. I was quite unnerved because he paused right beside me. These game drives are in open vehicles with nothing but some canvas between us and the wild. They gave us pretty good guidelines to follow to keep from agitating the animals. But, after my experience at the lion park, I was very uncomfortable. I made sure not to make eye contact and even pulled my head to where he couldn’t see me when he was looking up at me. The driver pulled forward and the lion turned and walked in the tall grasses next to the road for quite some time and we followed him.

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Errrrrrgh! Lions, lions, always with the lions!

Corey, Oliver, and I took a daytime drive that would have taken about an hour going the speed limit. It took us four hours because of all the stopping we did to see animals. The views were beyond beautiful! We saw a herd of elephants go into the river to cool off while we were cooling off at the Oliphant camp.DSCN5339

We took another sunset safari drive and I can’t believe what I am about to tell you. Well, first of all, we got to see white rhinos really close up. Then, we saw a male lion drinking in a small pond. As we watched him walk through the bush, we came across three other male lions eating a freshly killed buffalo. Our driver knew something was up when he saw a tree full of vultures. It seems that vultures will gather when lions kill an animal and will stay until the lions finish, before going in for the scraps.

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Waiting their turn.
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Lion, tuckin’ in to his buffalo steak.

The lions were quite close to us; but I wasn’t concerned this time because they were much more interested in the buffalo than in us. At one point, they had a little tiff over who got to gnaw on the head. They were snarling and pawing at each other until one gained control of the head and froze to keep the others off of it. It was like something out of National Geographic! As we left the lions, we came across a hyena heading their way. Our driver explained that since the wind was toward the lions, the hyena would not smell the fresh kill and was unknowingly walking toward his own death since the lions will kill him if he comes too near.

Ostrich Farm, South Africa (by Oliver)

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D’you say somethin’? ‘Cuz I thought I heard something’ just now.

We got to feed the ostriches and you would expect that their beaks and their strong necks would hurt.  But they don’t hurt at all; except for when they nip your fingers.  It happened to Audrey and Dad.  And, they said it hurt.  But, it happened to me on the thumb and it didn’t hurt at all.

We also got to ride the ostriches and the ostriches have a belief that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them.  And so, what the guides would do, is put a fabric bag over their head and walk them to the mounting block.  And then, we got on the ostrich with the bag still on its head.  Next, our guide pulled the bag off the ostrich’s head.  The ostrich would run because it would be scared.  Audrey thought it was horrifying, but awesome.  I thought it was awesome and fun.  At one point in my ride, the ostrich stopped and then took off again.  So, it was a little jerky, but still really fun.  How you got off the ostrich was by sliding off the back of it.  The wings were on top of my legs.  When I was sliding off the back of mine, my ankle got caught on the wing.  And the jockey was pulling me to get off; but, the wing was caught on my ankle.  And so, it sort of pulled me.

Beforehand, the guide kept on saying that we were going to have neck massages.  But, our family didn’t know if we were going to give the ostriches neck massages or if the ostriches were going to give us neck massages.  We finally got to that stage and it ended up that the ostriches gave us neck massages.  How they did that is that there are a few ostriches in each enclosure and there was a bucket of feed.  My Mom, Audrey, and Dad, held the bucket in front of them with their backs up to the fence.  And then all the ostriches would come up to them and reach their necks around the person’s head to peck at the food.

A little deeper on the left, please, oh, right there.
A little deeper on the left, please, oh, right there.

Their necks would bang on the person’s neck, giving them a neck massage.  I was too short to have the neck massage.  So, I had a head massage.  I put the bucket on top of my head holding onto it with both of my hands.  And then, the ostriches would peck on it and their force would bang the bucket against my head.

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Next time your 8 year old says that he’s bored, just get three ostriches and a bucket …

Ostrich eggs are really big and strong.  We all got to stand on eggs and they didn’t break.  One ostrich egg equals the same as 24 chicken eggs.

I got a couple of ostrich feathers while we were there.  It was one of my favorite tours I have ever done in my life.