Face to face with a rhinoceros (South Africa)

Residential area in Johannesburg, South Africa

Thibaut is in Cape Town for 3 weeks. I organize a trip to the Kruger national park.

We are off to Johannesburg. Our backpacker is located few miles away from the airport. We attempt to have a look around. The heavy atmosphere, houses with fence and deserted streets, isnot making us enthusiastic. We are just aiming at reaching the mall located at the next corner.

After a cold night, we are on our way to Kruger. A long driving day is needed.

Our final destination is getting closer. We can see the entrance gate.

We are coming into our camp protected by a massive fence. First shivers doesn’t take long to be felt.

We are having dinner around a fire. We can hear some growlings. Equiped with headlamp, I am turning around. Eyes are staring at me in the dark. Hyenas have surrounded the camp waiting for us to feed them.

Having seen them only through doucmentaries, I am surprised by female size, as big as pony.

The night spent in the tent is basic and unusual. Unknown noises are accompanying us in our sleep.

Early in the morning (5.00 am), we are getting in a 4X4 to meet up with rangers. On the road, an elephant herd is menacing but finally accepts to let us go.

Rangers brief us about potential situations in which we could face up and behaviours to have during the trekking.

As usual, you think that it won’t happen to you, except that we are going to enter an unpredictable world as never seen before.

giraffe carcass, Kruger national park

Giraffe carcass, Kruger national park (photo by will-on-board)

In order to threaten a potential predator, we are walking in line to look bigger. The rangers insist on the fact that the person moving away from the group would immediately be in danger.

We are coming across a carcass. They are asking us to pay attention suspecting the animal to still be around. These both natives really amaze me by their excellent knowledge of their environment.

We are walking for a hour, the surroundings look so quiet for a rookie like me.

They suddenly stop us and ask us to be quiet. 220 yards (200 m) away, three rhinoceros are eating.

They have a bad eyesight but they the have smelt us. Curious, they are getting closer speeding up. The ground is trembling.

It’s exactly at that time you thank the rangers for all the recommandations they have told you. Time to play hide and seek behind the bush with the rhinoceros.

Were they serious about hiding behind a bush ? Have they already seen a rhinoceros running to them ?

Probably, but not me…

Thibaut and I are crossing our fingers not to be found by the rhinoceros.

My friend is telling me : «I know we shouldn’t run but it’s may be time to move away».

I am ready to follow him when both rangers stand up in front of the animals and shoot three time to the sky.

The rhinoceros stop their run.

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