|me, bundled up|
|Yet another posing kudu..|
Even though we entered in through the same gate each time, our driver/guides always took different routes down branching dirt roads in pursuit of desired sightings.
Our drivers often conferred with other drivers along the road, passing good sightings back and forth. On this last drive we saw some fine creatures.
|Kori bustard, 2' tall|
|Elephant savaging a small tree|
|Endangered ground hornbill pair|
But the ground hornbills caught the attention of everyone, including the driver, whose job, of course, is to show his van full of people Kruger's rare and amazing animals (but chiefly the "Big Five" of course: elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion, which is what most visitors are clamoring to see). This hornbill pair was pacing along beside the road, with the male in the lead carrying a twig in his mouth with which he was courting the female. If you look closely, you can see it here, right at the tip, a plant stem about six inches long and maybe 1/8" thick.
|A menacing Cape buffalo|
We managed to see all the Big Five on this drive, and our driver was exultant ~ we didn't spot the fifth entrant, a leopard, until the very last moment, after sunset, when we were supposed to be out of the park ~ and the driver was thinking he'd failed us. Our first intimation that there was something big ahead was the clot of cars blocking the road. We couldn't have passed if we wanted to.
|Leopard In Grass At Dusk|
My photo is pretty dismal, but I got a halfway decent sketch of it.
We saw all the other Big Fives that day, but the rhino was a mere blob of gray and the lions were at a terrific distance. To be honest, a great deal too much of a blather is made about "The Big Five." I much more enjoy the Little Thousands.
|My sketch of Treehouse #2|
|Treehouse #2 from below|
|Zebra tracks on the path|
Then shortly after that, a small troop of banded mongooses (no, not mongeese) flowed across the road in front of me. This is the closest I ever got to them. It was a fruitful walk to breakfast (not that far, only a hundred yards or so up past the other treehouses, but full of nice surprises), so I came back later with my sketchbook to record all the interesting things I had encountered.
Here's a page out of my sketchbook: