Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Place You Never Heard Of

Blue wildebeest duking it out
It's the same way over and over.  You arrive in a new country, and start to hear about some place that you've never heard of before. Soon it becomes obvious that it is the place, and that you should really go see it for yourself.

In the case of South Africa, that place is Kruger National Park, in the northeast of the country. Our Rough Guide describes the Kruger experience as "democratic game viewing". And it really is that, at least in terms of democracy for people with the discretionary income to take some time out for game viewing.

We were in the park for seven days and six nights.  The campgrounds are fenced in to keep out the animals with a taste for tourist flesh.  The gates open at six in the morning, and then you go out and spend the day driving around the park, looking at the incredible, iconic macrofauna of Africa.

Again and again, I marveled at how Pleistocene these animals are.  Why did their analogs in North America and Europe and Australia go extinct with the arrival of Homo sapiens, while the African mammalian spectaculars persisted?

And while the rhinos and elephants and great cats and on and on are breath-taking, we also had the diversion of fantastic birding. We spent long days in the truck, and while we might have wearied at times, we never got tired of the experience.

Lilac-breasted roller


We don't have a high-end telephoto lens, so our ability to fill the frame of these photos speaks to how close we were to the animals.

The boys were completely over the moon, again and again.

We shared almost all of these sightings with other cars. There's a great feeling of camaraderie and information sharing among visitors. Lots of tips get shared between lowered windows of vehicles. At times there are some pretty big conglomerations of viewing vehicles, but there were never so many that we couldn't get a great look ourselves.

We had a memory card meltdown in our point-and-shoot, so I can't share any pics of the camps or our poptop camper.  Those will have to wait for the post on the Kalahari...

Klipspringer. They live in rocky terrain and walk on the tips of their hooves.
Peak moment!

Spotted hyena

Yellow-billed stork

Impala and oxpeckers

We watched this lion mating with a female three times in half an hour, about 30 meters from the road.

Chacma baboon and young
And, while there's plenty more to write about this land trip of ours, I am blessedly limited in internet access, so will leave this post as a somewhat hasty photo dump.

More soon!


  1. WOW, WOW AND WOW!! what a fantastic experience and great photos as usual. I really enjoy your honest telling of all these experiences.

  2. There are no words to respond to such pictures, only sighs and gasps of delight for you and Alisa and the boys. This planet is an amazing gift, as is life... both those thoughts are swarming through my brain as I share the experience through pics and great insights. Much love, and safe travel, Noe

    1. Thanks, Noe. Hope you're well. love, all of us.

  3. Hi Galactic !
    Nice to see that Galactic and crew is sound and whole in South Africa. Enjoying everything that this wonderful country can offer. We stayed just ahead of you all the way to Cape Town and Villvind is on the hard at Saldanha. I´m back in Norway by now and our intension is to start out from SA the first days of January. So if Galactic still move slowly i hope we catch up with you en route to the Caribean. Have a nice stay i SA and lots of greetings from Terje in Villvind and please say hello to Eric and Elias. Terje

    1. Hey Terje - thanks for getting in touch. Alisa says you were the perfect neighbor while I was back in Alaska...hope our paths cross again!

  4. My theory is that the megafauna of Africa evolved with Humans while that of Australia and the Americas did not. Hence there is a massive die off when the humans arrive. A new predator arrives on the scene and none of the animals are equipped evolutionarily to deal with it. Patrick

    1. Now that's a plausible idea! Hadn't thought of it myself...