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The first of May is a public holiday in South Africa and so we decide to drive in the Pilanesberg National Park. Early in the morning we start off with a packed breakfast coupled with little sleepy eyes, but full of anticipation to the wild animals.
After about three hours drive through the region and passing several townships we reach the park. We are lucky and are allowed to drive through the park with our bus. On the way we deal with the animal names in the Setswana language. For example, Thutlwa means Giraffe, Tlou stands for Elephant and Tilodi is Zebra. As with many other African languages, we have great difficulty in pronouncing these names.
We all hope to see the famous "Big Five" (rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and cheetah) today. Soon we discover the first zebras, followed by wildebeest, guinea fowl and the relaxed rear ends of hippos in the water. Also giraffes dive shortly thereafter on the roadside. We see several herds of elephants walk through the tall grasses and the photos turned out great from the useful vantage point of our bus. Overall, we spend nearly six hours in the park.
On the way back we stop at a slightly larger pond and watch nearly 60 elephants take a bath. Some carry out duels, others wallow in the mud. We are all overwhelmed to be able to witness such a spectacle with our own eyes. In the same water we discover a crocodile on the bank and a small warthog family. Exhausted from the burning sun and the search for the very well-camouflaged animals, we go back to our village. Shortly before we take off, we see monkeys who just stroll across the street like normal pedestrians of human society.
Although we caught just three of the "Big Five", everyone is happy and thankful for the many impressions and photos. Before we begin the return trip to Vanderbijlpark where dinner is awaiting us, a small souvenir may not be missing.
Text: Joana Schmidt, Katja Wiegand, Translation: Diana Banmann
Online-Editing: Agnes Bressa
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