South Africa

I need you to bear with me. Having just returned from a great 10 days in South Africa means that I will be mentioning this event in a number of my posts! During this stay we spent 5 days in the Kruger National Park. The first thing that strikes visitors is the vastness of the place. Once you go through the gates you feel that you have been transferred into the real Africa. While we were there it was hot, dry and very dusty. The rains are not due until later this month so many of the watering holes and rivers were completely dry. We spent many hours driving and staring into the bush and we weren’t disappointed. Seeing animals such as lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes and rhino in their natural environment is exhilarating.

You very quickly come to realise that you are the visitor in their world. As you watch a group of elephants slowly stroll across the road in front of your car you appreciate that they know that you are there but they are not that interested. Sitting there in your small car you are neither a source of food nor a threat – that makes you somewhat insignificant. Whenever you stop to watch the animals and take your photos you can’t help but notice that they are also watching you. Often there is a look of mere interest but sometimes it’s more than that. At one stage we were watching this large bull elephant feeding at the edge of the road prior to following his friends across the road. We soon realised that we were close to the point where he intended crossing – we reversed quickly. He was going to cross where he wanted to, irrespective of who or what was in his way!

As you come out of the park you are struck by an almost immediate transformation in the landscape. We came out at Crocodile Bridge and within 100 meters of the gate the surrounding area is transformed from the dry, parched vista that you have grown accustomed to into one of lush green vegetation. Back in the ‘real world’ farmers are manipulating the area through a tremendous amount of watering to create acres and acres of banana plantations and sugar cane fields. While you feel that you are back in ‘civilisation’ you can’t help but wonder which in fact is the real world. I, for one, was extremely grateful that the authorities were holding back the tide of commercialisation and ‘normality’ to ensure that the natural beauty and wilderness of Africa was being maintained.

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