Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tuesday & Wednesday, July 8-9th, Gariep & Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa


It took two long days of driving, but my hopes to see a lion came true today.  Leaving the Cavern yesterday morning, we drove all day to get to the Gariep Dam Resort.  
Early this morning, we were given a tour of the Gariep Dam.  Quinton arranged for two members of the security and maintenance staff at the dam to give us a personal tour.  Following them deep into the cold recesses of the concrete monolith, we saw how such a huge project actually works.  The Gariep Dam is a key link in a project which transports river water almost the length of South Africa.  It diverts water via a tunnel through the mountains south of here and connects two long river valleys to irrigate the southern half of South Africa. 

After our visit to the Dam, we drove for several hours to the town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape.  Checking into the Die Tuishuise & Victoria Manor, we had tea and sandwiches in a small diner across the street, and headed off to the MountainZebra National Park a few miles away. 

The Mountain Zebra has slightly different marking than the zebras most see on visits to Africa.  The head looks more like a donkey, the stripes are thinner and they end at the belly, which is white.  
We also saw elands, blesboks, wildebeests, ostriches, and kudus. 
The park contains, but we did not see, black rhinos, cheetahs, hartebeests, bat-eared fox, and hyenas. 
But clearly the peak of our viewing experience was the two young male lions we found asleep near the road, and who provided us with an hour’s worth of entertainment as they woke, yawned, stretched, and then made their way down the mountain on a casual walk together.

They didn’t seem to be hunting, as they passed several lone wildebeests on their journey.  We followed them down past a watering hole, to a favorite bush they marked, and on across a large expanse of high grasses.  The park’s closing time finally forced us to say goodbye to them, and drive back to the gate. 

I’ll apologize before you wade though the 221 photos I took today.  It’s just impossible to narrow the volume of photos to less than that when you are dealing with cute lion shots, coupled with several species of antelope, and rare mountain zebra.  To see the photos, click on Wednesday,July 9th, Craddock, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

No comments: