Tuesday, November 25, 2014

South Africa Trip, Day 11: Punda Maria Camp, KNP

Kimberly Writes: Today was the hottest day we've had so far, so things were relatively quiet. We drove a loop trail that took us far off the paved roads, and we didn't see any other travelers for several hours. This is one of the benefits of the Punda Maria Camp. It's toward the far north end of Kruger NP, is more remote than the other camps, and is a bit more rustic, so it's less traveled.

Here's a map showing the camps in Kruger National Park. You'll see Punda Maria towards the north end. The wildlife is a bit more scarce, but the trade off is less visitors to this part of Kruger, which offers more of a sense of solitude. 

In spite of the heat, we had a wonderful day, with some exciting discoveries, including our 16th lion of the trip, another nifty nightjar (admittedly, not quite as outrageously awesome as the Pennant-winged, which I'll share in a separate post!), and a gorgeous South Africa sunset.

Another of the more than a dozen starling species found in southern Africa:
the Wattled Starling. This is a male.

A starling to put all other starlings to shame, the Violet-backed Starling. 

Yep, folks. THIS is a starling, and a super dazzling one at that!

Another view showing the violet back of the aptly named Violet-backed Starling!

We found this Warthog with three adorable little piglets!
(Yep, even Warthog babies are cute!)

We visited an elephant museum at one of the camps earlier this week, and learned about a series of elephants known as "The Tuskers." These are the elephants with the largest known tusks in Kruger NP. 

We came upon this elephant today and I worked hard to get a photo showing both tusks. 

Of the hundreds of elephants we've seen on our trip, these tusks were, by far, the largest we'd seen. I want to stop back by that museum when we head back south to see if this might be one of "The Tuskers."

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