Talk about “safari luck!”…Knock us over with a feather….We’ve arrived in Blyde River Canyon. What a first day!

After stopping at a was rest stop in Kruger National Park, there was a Vervet Monkey atop our pink rental car when we returned. It was one of many very entertaining experiences we had during our 5 1/2 hours in the park this morning.

At 6:15 am Wednesday morning, we were on our way for the full day’s drive to the Blyde River Canyon for a three-night stay, commencing at the Crocodile River entrance to Kruger National Park.

This is the narrow single-lane one must cross over the dangerous Crocodile River in order to enter Kruger National Park. One wouldn’t want to fall into this river!

We’d decided to take the longer route through the park to experience our first “self-drive” safari. After watching a video posted on Facebook a few days ago, as an angry male elephant toppling a car onto its side with a foolish driver at the wheel, we were especially cautious.

At the entrance gate, we showed our passports and paid the fee of  US $45.90, ZAR $500 and we were on our way.

We entered the park with determined caution, hoping that once again our “safari luck” would prevail. But, after having seen only a family of Helmeted Guinea-Fowl with adorable chicks on the road, we considered that perhaps, “safari luck” had run out. Ha! How wrong we were!

The first sign of life we encountered was this flock of the familiar Helmeted Guinea Fowls who tend to pick through and eat the dug of the elephants who only digest 40% of their food leaving the remainder undigested which is often eaten by birds.

The intent was to spend a few hours maneuvering our way through the park to exit at the famous Paul Kruger exit, not far from the town of Hazyview, to then follow along the renowned Panorama Route.  

The Guinea Fowl gathered all their chicks together as we slowly drove by.

Little did we know or expect to spend 5½ hours in the park, extending our exiting route to the more distant Numbi Gate.

After seeing several impalas and more guinea-fowl (as Tom calls hens), we were worried “safari luck” wasn’t with us for once. After an hour had passed and we hadn’t seen much, we resigned ourselves.

Taking over 100 photos during our drive, we couldn’t have been more thrilled if we had seen the Big 5, of which we found two. We’d had that glorious experience 3½ months ago when on safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya in the first 10 hours in the bush. Experiencing it again was no longer important to us. 

Then, there he was. Tom spotted him first from afar.  He was on the right side of the car, the driver’s side (opposite of the US and other countries). Tom angled the car, enabling me to get this shot with the car window open.  

What has been important to us has been to have fun, to talk, to laugh, and to fill our hearts with the love of nature and our surroundings, which has proven to be a relatively easy task here in Africa, barring some scary crawling things we could happily do without.  

Little zoom was necessary for these photos. We were at a safe distance and Tom was prepared to back up in a hurry if necessary if the elephant became agitated.

But, it all has been a part of the adventure; the good, the great, the stupendous and, the occasional not so nice. 

He was well aware of us in the road, Suddenly, he decided he had enough of our prying eyes and camera. We took a video when he turned toward us appearing angry and clearly wanting us to leave. We’ll post the video as soon as we can get a strong enough signal to download it to YouTube.

The next morning at breakfast we’re comfortably situated in the outdoor dining area in the exquisite resort, The Blyde River Canyon Lodge, as I attempt to complete this post with a slightly improved WiFi signal when closer to the main office of the resort.

The elephant had enough of us and backed up onto the road at a good pace in our direction. Tom quickly responded, backing up as fast as possible. Although we were at a safe distance (so we thought), it was time to get out of his view. Our upcoming video will more clearly explain what transpired.

Our photos of the drive through Kruger Park will illustrate the magnificence of our “self-drive” safari.  Going at our own pace, stopping for as long or as little as we chose, backing up on the road if we missed something, stopping to check the tire pressure” behind a bush, all contributed to the quality of the experience.

Satisfied that we were out of his way, he completed his goal of moving to the left side of the road. We waited for several minutes and then continued on our way.

He never took his eyes off of us as we drove past him continuing on our way. We both agreed that having this experience alone would satisfy us for the day.  Little did we know what was yet to come an hour further down the road, all of which we’ll share tomorrow.

Adding Mother Nature’s cooperation and “safari luck” to the mix, you’ll see from these photos what I’m talking about. We didn’t need a “Big 5” experience. We only needed to have fun and that, dear readers, is exactly what we did.

No more than minutes later, we encountered this family of monkeys playing in the road with their offspring.  Their playful antics made us laugh.

Again, as we enjoy yet another three-day trip we’ll produce lots more photos that it will most likely take many days to share. So please bear with us, as we work our way through. The slow WiFi signal definitely impedes our ability to post dozens of photos in one post.

Nothing like a baby monkey kissing the ground. LOL.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back to more of the adventures of our lives, lived to the fullest, including more Kruger Park photos and, taking a walk with an elephant’s truck in our hands, an elephant “kissing” our necks using the end of his trunk and much more.

Thanks for your patience.