Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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Timed for the end of my stay in South Africa is a visit to the famed Kruger National Park. Known for having all of the Big 5 in great supply (named as such for being the five most difficult animals to track and hunt: elephant, rhino, lions, hippo, and buffalo), Kruger is an absolutely huge park spilling into nearby Zimbabwe. Though not entirely what I had expected (I didn't really do my homework, as usual), we drove an unbelievable distance within the borders of the park over the course of three days. At nights we stopped in "secure" campsites ringed with electric razorwire as seen in the movie Jurassic Park (though I'm told it's more to keep people in than animals out, as many animals can easily leap over, sneak in, or trample over the fences, were they interested) and braiid over the fire (barbecues in South Africa are called "braiis" - who knew?). All in all it was a whole lot of driving and not a whole lot of anything else, but we did get to see a lot of great animals and beautiful scenery. On the last night and day we headed to a neighboring private game reserve, as well as drove through XXXX canyon to witness more stellar panoramas.

My favorite inhabitants of the park are the lean, horned impala. They're quick, graceful, beautiful, and can be found absolutely everywhere. After an hour in the park we stopped even mentioning them out loud as there are just so many of them. Regardless, they're wonderful to watch run and frolic through the bush in their huge packs. The impalas also go by another, less formal name: McDonalds. This name comes both from the distinctive "golden arches" fur pattern on their rear (apparently it helps them follow each other through the brush), as well as for them being a major source of food for many of the park's predators.
The undisputed champion of the bush is, of course, the elephant. They're giant and magnificent creatures, with a voracious appetite: it's hard not to be impressed watching them dismantle and eat entire trees, branch after branch. At one point we were near a water hole where a family of elephants was crossing the road. A different guest to the park managed to get his car between point A and B, earning him a trumpet blast and imposing charge (that stopped short) from an impatient elephant.
The clouds managed to catch the sun just right to mix brilliant pinks and violets with the somber blues and purples of the morning sky.
South Africa has its own Grand Canyon, though its actually called the Blyde River Canyon. We stopped at a panoramic lookout sight to stretch our legs and get a nice view. Of course, the best views were to be found on the other sides of all the imposing "Danger! Do not pass!!" signs, including the one pictured here. Incidentally, I'm nowhere near as serene as I appear in this picture: I have ten seconds from the time I click the button to get into position. My seat isn't terribly far away, but it's at the top of a cliff canyon wall and littered with crumbling and dangerous rocks (as the signs indicate). Thus, I managed to sit down and compose myself the instant the shutter snapped, despite my beating heart and nervous limbs. I took much longer than ten seconds getting back.

Copyright 2021 - David Barrett -