Arathusa-Sunday-3/27

Hazyview/Kruger, Arathusa Safari Lodge, Day 53- This morning we arose early, packed up, breakfasted and took one last walk along the river bank. As we were nearing the end of our walk, we spied a grayish lump near a large clump of river grass. The lump saw us at the same time and before we knew it, we had a great, large hippo swimming our way. It passed right in front of us, about 6 feet down a bank. A lodge employee came running down, yelling at us to get away. She said that Hippos are incredibly fast and that it would eat us. Really?? Hippos can move up to 36 kmh or about 22 mph. They are one of the most aggressive, fearless and unpredictable of the African animals. One of the top killers of humans. They have been know to capsize boats and kill the occupants. Their big canine teeth are very sharp and they won’t hesitate to use them, especially if a person is between them and deep water or their calf.

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The eat us part, was just a scare tactic. Hippos are grazers and will only eat meat if it’s been floating around in the river. Hippos, because they expend less energy, buoyed by water, eat only 1.5% of their body weight/day. Most large mammals must eat 5% of their body weight/day to maintain good health.

We had a interesting drive to Arathusa. GPS is not recommended, because it takes you through the wrong reserve gate. We were sent a map that was created by someone who’s brain works totally differently than mine. I struggled to figure it out, while we passed through small towns and villages with little roadside stands that were unlike any we’ve seen before.

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Oooooh, lost in the bush, how exciting! We weren’t totally off the path, but based on our map from the lodge, we overshot the entrance and were a good 3 km out in the bush when we realized our mistake. By then we had the pleasure of viewing a small herd of giraffes crossing the dirt/sand road.

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imageWe also saw a very curious herd of Impala. Hurray, another inadvertent Pete safari. After turning around, with a little grumbling from the weary driver to the weary navigator, we made it to Arathusa in plenty of time for the 4 pm safari. The open air trucks go out for 3 hours in the afternoon/evening, then again at 5:30 am.

Our first safari out we were lucky enough to see a White Rhino bull, Crocodile, many more Impala and a large male Leopard (see featured photo). We were thrilled to see these magnificent animals up close and in their natural habitat.

imageWe also saw some of the most beautiful skies, I’ve ever seen.

imageOur Ranger and Tracker stopped at sunset for drinks and snacks.

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