The Pilansberg National Park: 1


The Cat’s folks came to SA to meet my folks and since they were there I figured that They can’t be in Africa without going on safari. We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Kruger so we went to the closest big 5 park to Joburg… The Pilansberg National Park…


The adventure for them however started much earlier. I know it is an obvious thing to say. But South Africa is not Japan. Once you leave the city and head out onto the Highveld The vast open landscapes and wide clear skies become much more apparent. It was great for me. If there is one thing I do miss over here is the vast openness. It feels like freedom. While the roads in Japans mountains are phenomenal. The mountains themselves keep things very closed and feeling somewhat restricted.


Equally, the vast open countryside that I grew up in was quite different for our guests. Not entirely new as they have been to the USA but there is a freedom in Africa (Even in the most westernized state in Africa) that is special and unique.


The big revelation to them was the way we farm cattle. We have wide open fields. And the cows walk around eating the grass and getting exercise. That coupled with the local breed explains why it is so lean, so big and most importantly… The best tasting beef I and now they have ever eaten.
But I am getting sidetracked… remember folks click the pic for a bigger image


We entered the park in the mid morning and went around for that day. We only managed to do about a third of the park but we did see some game and 1 of the big 5 at least. No cats sadly, apart from mine.
When we entered I took the first dirt road that presented itself that took us up on a ridge looking down toward a dam where we found some waterbuck. They were quite a ways off even with my stalker lens. That said, When cropped down I am amazed at the quality of the lens at that range.

waterbuck crop

Further along the way was our first close encounter. A pair of giraffes were browsing a tree not too far off the road.


They were part of a larger herd that was scattered across the slope enjoying their mid morning munch


We spotted a few lazy Blue Wildebeest (Gnu) at range before finally coming across a small herd of the bushveld equivalent of McDonalds… Better known as Impala.


A common theme amongst all the animals we encountered was their young. I guess it was that time of the year. there were many recent arrivals in the herds. Some of the little ones still had dried off scraps of their umbilical cords attached to their bellies. I have never seen that before.


Toward the bottom of the ridge we spotted an elephant grazing while hundreds of butterflies fluttered through the air around it. The elephant was not alone as we soon discovered.


It was a full herd that straddled both sides of the road and was leisurely just going about whatever it is elephants do before noon.


As it turned out however, they were blocking the road right at the only bridge across the river up ahead. So we were in for a bit of a wait while they slowly moved along.


One car went ahead of us and managed to get across so I decided to slowly move forward and managed to get across right in front of a rather scary looking adult. no photos as we were too busy getting past. Especially after what happened next I doubt it would have posed for a photo. but it was very damn close.


When we got to the other side there was a backlog of cars and so we couldn’t get past till they crossed the other way. They couldn’t however because that adult from before stepped onto the road, faced off with the lead car, flapped it’s ears and raised it’s trunk.


As it turned out. There were some younger ones who wanted to cross the bridge and the big one was just being traffic cop. when they had crossed over, it moved along and the cars did too. Pretty exciting though. What is it with me and elephant encounters? 

In the end we got back onto the main road and headed toward the center of the park.

To Be Continued…

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