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Kruger National Park- Day 2- Orpen Camp

Following a hearty breakfast at the Oliphant restaurant, we moved on to our next camp, Orpen.   We saw the usual cast of characters, giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, impala and elephant, but it was no less exciting to see them each time.  A turn down a gravel road, however, produced our first hippo sightings.  First we saw a group submerged in the water, and though we watched for quite a while, the only thing we saw were their eyes.  A little further down the road we hit the hippo mother lode.  A group of 14 laying and walking around on the shore, hanging out in the water and yawning for us.  Funny to watch and also no threat since they were across the river from us.  We had been informed that the hippo, along with the rhino and Cape buffalo are the most dangerous animals in the park, because they will attack without provocation or warning.  We had the perfect vantage point.

Further down the river we saw a number of sizable crocodiles, one we estimated to be about 14 feet.
Male Kudo
Nothing else was in the water near these big guys.  The evening before we had caught a quick glimpse of a stately looking male kudo.  So it was a treat to see a few small groups, including some family groupings.  Arriving at the Orpen Camp, we had a more nicely outfitted bungalow with an outdoor kitchen.  Vervet monkeys were widely present in the area, so the refrigerator was enclosed within a gate with a slide lock to ensure they would not empty it for you.

With a sunrise tour scheduled the next morning, we departed shortly after 4:30 A.M. looking again for nocturnal prowlers and the early movers around the park.  No new sightings initially, but we saw two large groups of baboons playing and running along the roadway.  Octavia, our ranger/driver, shared not only tidbits about the animals but many of the plants
White rhino
as well.  She introduced us to the Marula tree, which has been used as a nutrition source and multiple other uses in Africa for over 10,000 years.  We were told that one fruit has 5 times the vitamin C of an orange, and that, traditionally, this is a preventative/cure that is used for colds or flu.  The fruit is also used to produce a liquor, which we were able to buy at the Orpen camp store on our return.  The highlight of the morning trip, however, was our first white rhino sighting.   White and black rhino are both gray.  They are told apart by a few physical differences and their diet.  White rhinos only eat grass while black rhinos eat plants and fruits, as well.  Several of the animals were about a hundred feet away from our 10-passenger jeep.  Rhinos sightings are not reported to the general public due to poaching concerns, so guests are asked not to say when and where they saw the animals on social media or on the animal sighting boards within the park.  Time to move on to our next camp, Talamati.

Zebra and Blue wildebeest





Glossy starling
Lilac-breasted roller
Baboons


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