Saturday, February 18, 2012

Morning game drives

During the heat of the day most of the animals rest, so if you go out on a drive in the late morning or afternoon your chance of seeing animals really isn't that great.  So we'd get up super early to leave the camp when the gates opened at 4:30.  We'd stay out until 7:30 or 8:00, and then come back, have breakfast, and go back to sleep.  Four in the morning is an hour I haven't seen much of since I was working first shift at the plant on breaks from school.  It hasn't gotten much better in the intervening years, but getting up that early was completely worth it because most of the cooler things we saw were super early in the morning.  

We heard the almost grown giant eagle owl above before we saw him.  We watched him call out for a minute or two and then moved up the road a hundred feet before we heard another giant eagle owl with a snake in its talon making the same noise.  While we were sitting there the first owl flew over and the second owl gave it the snake.  I'd never seen an owl during the day prior to this that wasn't being housed at the zoo, so to see a mother and her young feeding during the day was special.

About twenty minutes after leaving the owls we noticed several cars stopped on the road in front of us.  Stopped cars indicate something close by the roadway and you can tell by the number stopped how interesting the sighting is.  We slowed down by the stopped cars just in time to see four cheetahs run across the road way and stop briefly on the other side before they took off again.  We didn't see lions or leopards while we were in Kruger, but we did see 4 of the park's 200 cheetahs, so I think it was an OK trade off.

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