Posted by: passedportsnyc | October 30, 2009

Notes from South Africa

Oct 11   We drove into Kruger National Park in our teeny tiny rented Volkswagan Chico – manual transmission, no power steering, no power anything, no air-con, nothing. (We did have a radio, which seemed to play the same eight songs over and over again, including, among others, Hot’n’Cold, Rosanna, Electric Avenue, and that Lady GaGa song, and mysteriously never lost the signal no matter how many hundreds of kilometers we drove.) We expected more or less the same experience as we had in Tanzania but it could not have been more different.

Within five minutes of entering the gate we came across a giraffe lying dead in the road, eyes gouged out, stomach sliced open, the contents of the intestines splattered across the dirt track. I almost vomited. Then we saw the pride of lions regally guarding her from the side of the road, not ten feet away from our car. For a half hour or so we sat and watched as the lions stood on guard. I refused to believe at first that the lions had killed her, she was just too big. I thought she must have been sick and died and they were acting as scavengers. Whatever had happened it had happened very shortly before our arrival.


We went a bit further down the road before turning back. We returned to find the pride devouring the giraffe. They climbed all over her, crawling deep inside her stomach cavity to pull out the choicest meat. Every time I looked the gag reflex kicked in and I thought I would lose it, but I was mesmerized. I could not tear my eyes away.


Lions eating a giraffe

Later in the day a rare black rhino crossed the road directly in front of our car, and a heard of buffalo decided to block our passage down another road. The stare down lasted the better part of twenty minutes before the herd backed down and cleared out.


Rhino in the Road

We casually watched an elephant family feeding on some roadside trees. When the mother got wind of us she clambered onto the road, blowing her trunk like a trombone and chased us for a hundred meters or so.

Shortly thereafter we stopped to let a large monkey cross the road. But the monkey had other plans. He climbed atop our car, all the way up to the roof, peered down into the windows and tried to open them, presumably to get ahold of our packed lunch.

Monkey Attack

When monkeys attack

Our Tanzania safari a couple of months ago was amazing, we saw great stuff, and the landscape of the Ngorongoro Crate and Lake Manyara were hard to beat. But we had better luck in Kruger, and being in our own little car on our own schedule, with no guide was so much more fun.




  1. wow!!! i can’t believe you saw all that. your pictures are fantastic. 3 months down, 6 to go! where to next? out of africa!

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