It was a family outing to the Rhino and Lion Park this past Sunday. It's still winter, so a chill in the air but not a cloud in the sky. The veld is the colour of liquid gold and its edges strawberry gold from the red dust the vehicles churn up on the road.
Of course we would immediately see guinea fowl and as luck would have it my camera wasn't ready so there's no photo of one of my favourite things. Usually they run for cover but this group was also curious about meeting us.
At the first waterhole we see roan, zebra, warthog and ibis. A little further on ostrich, buffalo and rhino. Then another roan, another group of warthog, more zebra and some waterbuck. We are enjoy every moment.
Driving towards the lion camp we see a group of rhino in the valley, so that our next stop. The rhinos and eland are feeding it the same area. From further up the hill a young rhino trots down with the mother close behind. As soon as the little one gets too far ahead he pauses and waits for his mother to catch up, then they travel on side by side but before you know it the little one is trotting ahead again because he just can't wait to get to the feeding station.
Into the lion and predator camps, read the long indemnity form and soon we see wild dog in a group to the right and another group to the left on the hill. The group on the right runs up the hill through a field of aloes so that eventually all the wild dogs are gathered on the rocky outcrop. Gorgeous image.
You can't take a picture of every remarkable moment, you miss engaging with the experience if you do.
Where the wild things are next - the white lions. OMW, they are so big. They were lazy as all hell and looked like they couldn't eat another morsical, except the one male who was still feasting. Then the one female decided another bite would do not harm, but the male said: no ways bitch, this is mine. A tug this way and that and then they sat down together to eat. Minutes later the male gets up, yawns, licks his lips, looks at the scene in front of him: hmm, a lot of cars and humans today, this is all so boring. I am doing to lie down over there away from all this fuss. He walks towards us and we assume he is going to cross the road in front of us. But no, he is headed straight for our car. I swear he brushed the dust off the side of our car that how close he was. Although logic tells me he wouldn't fit in the gap of the window I still wind it up. We all hold our breath and there is total silence in the car as we each try to process what has just happened. There is nervous laughter, just the other side of a hysterical giggle, once we allow ourselves to blink again. Wow.
We take the road less travelled and see no lions, so up the road most travelled and there they are. Ordinary lions. Magnificent lions. One by one they get up to move into the shade under the tree until they are all lying under it and you could drive past the tree without even noticing them.
More eland in the dry river bed, crows flying off the mountain, we are on the road between the two.
We avoid the vulture restaurant, I went there before and is was a revolting sight and the smell.... no ways. Stopped to watch zebra rolling in the dust. Wildebeest, hardebeest, impala.
Drove to the day visitor's camp where we had our picnic, although we had been snacking in the car throughout our drive. The kids wanted to see the snakes. So we strolled over to the enclosures.
Okay, so for me personally, this almost ruined the wonderful day we had thus far. I didn't like the small areas the snakes were caged in. I didn't like the enclosure for the Eagle Owl, his head was touching the ceiling. Bad planning guys. The enclosures for the other animals - black leopard, cloud leopard, lynx, tiger, cheetah - no, guys, no. All were identical and no efforts was made to create an environment native to the animal. The exchange of cash for selfies with cubs. Ag nee man. Bitter taste in my mouth. Sadder conditions than a zoo, in my opinion. Sorry.
Sigh! Every day ends, so a slow drive before the sun bows out for the day. The light brushes the grass with pale yellow, and the horizon with white. On the way to the exit impala, springbok and guinea fowl line up to say goodbye. Thank you.
The narrative and the photos don't follow the same sequence but your eye should marry up the right image to the correct part of the story.