Join Me in the Bushveld {Part Two}

August 23, 2011

in South Africa,Stories

{This post is continuing from Join Me in the Bushveld (part one) right here.}

We enjoyed a scrumptious brunch back in our holiday accommodation, keeping an eye on a mischievous monkey {who may or may not have stolen Blake’s dummy} keen to hop up onto the balcony and join our feast if no one was looking. We piled back into the car to hurry into the park in hopes of seeing more game…and specifically hoping for a good sighting of some lions.

Once we’re inside the reserve, the Bear scurries into the front passenger seat to sneak candy from a very willing Grandpa. He is finally getting the hang of looking for game, and we’ve been keeping him entertained with books and toys and special treats.

Through thick bush along the roadside, we spot a striking waterbuck who seems to be observing us, just as we are observing her.

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We’d seen a hippopotamus in similar scenery that morning. It was special to see this delightfully cumbersome creature on the land instead of in the water. We watched him graze for quite some time, making sure our car wasn’t cutting off his path to the water — they don’t seem to like that too much.

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Now a Greater Blue-Eared Glossy Starling is hopping alongside the car. I stare down, so impressed with his magnificent colouring.

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We ride along quietly for quite some time and then come down a dip in the road that crosses over a dry river bed. We stop for a moment, half expecting to see something coming along this sandy thoroughfare at any moment. I search the sand for tracks, the Bear now on my lap, us leaning our heads out the window.

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“That must be gruffalo poop!” we giggle, and I encourage the Bear to keep his eyes peeled for a gruffalo nearby.

We look up the hill in front of us before the Hubs begins encouraging Mr. Potato Head to begin the grumbling ascent, but this scene awaits us at the top of the hill:

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HH moves the car slowly forward and then we’re motionless — watching as elephants are coming out of the bush and crossing the road right in front of us. We suddenly make another discovery: nature has called twice, and the baby has made a poopy which has gone straight through his onesie, his swaddle cloth, and onto Gammy’s nice white blouse. Sigh.

While elephants crack branches and munch munch a few feet away, we’re in the backseat trying to clean up the mess. The juxtaposition of the peaceful scenery of the grazing ellies out the window and the wild scene inside the car make me smile, and Mom and I laugh that this will be a special memory.

Once bottoms are cleaned, clothes are changed (except for poor Mom) and babies are back to smiling, I have the joy of gazing at the gentle giants outside my window. With strength and graceful movements, they knock over a tree and feast on the roots before moving on.

We linger watching the elephants for ages…it feels like such a privilege.

It’s time to start heading for home, so we move on, just pausing to smile at the monkeys now dotting the road in front of us.

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We grumble along for a bit longer and then notice a lonely wildebeest. He grazes near the road as the sun begins to fade in the sky.

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At last it’s time to hurry along to the gate, our last day of viewing game at the Kruger National Park coming to a close. In a great day-end surprise, Mark spots another leopard — we watch, awestruck that we’ve been privileged with three sightings of the least spotted (though very spotted) of the Big Five in one day. As other cars pull up in hopes of enjoying a good look at what we’ve seen, the leopard slips off into the bush again, and it feels like that special moment was planned just for us.

Up one hill, just before the descent toward the gate, you can see for miles — the Mpumulanga horizon breathtaking with fields and trees, the sturdy profiles of mountains outlined in the distance.

The evening sky mirrors the sky from early that morning. Silhouettes of wiry trees pass outside our window and my heart feels a little heavy as I wonder when I’ll have the privilege of being in this special place again. We approach the gate, stars are beginning to appear, and I find myself praying, “Lord, thank You. Please let us return to this wonderful place again soon.”

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P.S. The Hubs grabbed memory-card-loads of five-star photos during our time in the Kruger, which I have not been sharing here, because they will be up in lights on his website. He has already begun posting a beautiful new photo every day over at Quiver Tree Photo, so please drop by and enjoy!

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