My African Vacation

Peter Turchin


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I went to Africa for the first time more than 30 years ago, and I was immediately hooked. Now I try to get there every year for a mind-clearing vacation — no work, just enjoying the countryside and the animals. This year I linked with two old friends of mine to go to South Africa. We spend most of our time in the Kruger National Park and its environs.

I’ve been to Kruger before (about 20 years ago), and I must say that it’s great as ever. In fact, we ended up seeing a greater variety of wildlife this time, compared to my previous visit. Here are some of the highlights.

All photos (c) Peter Turchin, CC-BY

A male waterbuck

Hyena using a “toothbrush”

Silently drifting from behind a bush…

These guys are so photogenic!

Impala are so common that their sightings are soon referred to as “just impala”. Which does a disservice to this beautiful creature.

Wild dogs were definitely a highlight of the trip. First time I saw them in the wild!

A Bateleur eagle

Ground hornbills are impressive birds. This one is about 1 m long.

The King needs no introduction.

Waiting for their turn

You can tell this is a male because the top of his horns are bold.

This big Kudu was killed by a leopard. Now it’s worked over by hyenas.

The leopard is still hanging around, but it is unlikely that the hyenas will leave any meat for him.

Another leopard. There are actually three leopards and three hyenas hanging around the Kudu carcass.

This hyena is about to bite off the Kudu’s rib. It sounds like a gunshot — hyenas have incredibly powerful jaws.

Very early morning. Lions are looking for a place to lie down for the day.

Here’s a live male Kudu. Amazing creatures.

Success! (Yellow-billed Stork)

Deep in thought…

Horsing around…

A baby rhino

Buffalo eyesight is not that great…

I am late for my appointment… (a Black-Backed Jackal).

Last view of the Kruger

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Wow, super cool, professor. Thanks for sharing!


I grew up in SA, know the Kruger well, looks like you saw a lot this visit. It’s great when that happens. If yiu haven’t seen them, next time try and see Caracal lynxes (Rooikat) catching birds in flight with their incredible jumps.

Pete Gas

Great pics. What was your camera setup?

Peter van den Engel

Strange you did niet see any monkeys or bonobo’s.
Perhaps this indicates our ansistors (or similar species) also did not like t.o live in the environment of these large predators.
Going into the ecologist narrative this bio diversity should be preferred by humans. History clearly proves they are wrong 😉


Hi Peter,
We had a similar experience in Bostwana Okavango Delta at the Moremi Game Preserve in about 2005. Very fortunate to see the African wild dogs, leopard (female and cub), and baboos all interacting at one site.

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