If yesterday was a day for seeing Rhino, then today was a day for seeing Lion. We surpassed our Rhino count with 14 Lion today. In fact we did so well with Lion that in the afternoon when we were at one of the watering holes someone said they had seen a lion in the bush and we weren’t bothered even to stay and look for it.
We had a long drive today from Pretoriuskop to Orpen. It was about 180 km and when you only drive at around 35-40 km/h that makes for a drive that takes the whole day. We left just after 6am from Pretoriuskop and arrived at 3pm at Orpen. It was however I very productive game viewing game especially if you measure it by number of lion seen. Fron Pretoriuskop to Skukuza took us about 2 hours and we saw a reasonable amount of game but no lion on that leg. We stopped for breakfast at Skukuza and then headed further North to Satara. The road from Skukuza to Satara was packed with game and we saw our first pride of 8 lion (including 2 cubs) on that road. Shortly afterwards we stopped at dam and it was teaming with game (including some birds we which had seen for the first time on the trip). Michael was scanning the tree line when he suddenly shouted out “Lion” and sure enough there was a big male lion under the tree. It didn’t seem that many of the other cars had even seen it. We even lent our binoculars to a foreign couple so that they could see it (and they were delighted).
Not very long after that and we came upon a 5 lion at the next watering hole. Our fount of knowledge (Michael) who has been reading the mammal book told us that prides can be apart by 50 kms and so it is likely that they could all be part of the same pride. Neither the 5 nor the 8 seemed to have a male present so the the male we saw definitely could have been with either batch.
Add to the 14 lion, great sightings of buffalo, elephant, giraffe, kudu, some more rhino, wildebeest, zebra and we really did see a huge amount today. Add in that the temperature reached 40 degrees after lunch and it was a very surprising day really. In that short of heat you really don’t expect to see much wildlife but we really did extremely well.
The Kruger Park seems to now be outsourcing it’s restaurants and so we ended up having lunch at the Mugg & Bean at Satara. Much better than the previously run national park restaurants. And then also had a Debonaire’s pizza at Satara. It was not particularly cheap but portion sizes were generous and the quality was good and that certainly made up for the cost (though to be fair my mother-in-law paid so who I am to complain!).
I was also impressed by the stick-ability of my mother-in-law today. She and I were the only ones to be looking the whole day. Everyone else dosed off at some stage. Admittedly Michael was next best in that he probably only dosed off for about 10 minutes (just before we stopped for a morning tea break – or ice creams actually would be more precise).
Late this afternoon Helen and I went for a quick drive out of the camp and we were pleased to add Black Backed Jackal to our growing list of animals seen. It was also a good day for adding new birds including a number while I was just sitting on the veranda of the hut we are staying in at Orpen. We are now up to 78 trippers but I am still missing Stephen as I am sure we would have seen more if he was with us. What I have noticed is that we can now ID birds relatively easily and often don’t even need to look them up anymore. We did have a good day of seeing birds of prey including seeing Brown Snake Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Tawny Eagle.
It was still 35 degrees at 6pm and only now (at 9:30pm) is it starting to cool down. It is meant to rain tomorrow am and I think that will hopefully cool things down a little. A lot of the Kruger Park has had substantial fires recently and many places are still smouldering even as you drive. You can smell it in the air even and so a little rain will no doubt bring all the green shoots out after the fires.
We had another braai tonight and enjoyed the falling temperature. As you can seen Michael and Chloe got in some more maths studying before dinner. Just as we finished eating dinner Chloe spotted a honey badger. They had warned us not to leave any food out because of the honey badgers and baboons. So that adds another species to our growing list. And just as I type this the honey badger has tried to get into our cupboards (the kitchen is outside and has locks on all the cupboards). They clearly are quite clever animals. The wind has also picked up a lot and so maybe that promised rain is on route.
P, H, M, C and the in laws
(And as I finish the electricity has just tripped … and come back on again … must be the approaching storm/rain)