Wake up call at 5am this morning. Helen had decided that the early mornings were no longer for her and so she stayed in bed. Everyone else was up and ready to have coffee & crunchies at 5:30am and then onto the game vehicle for the early morning drive. Given we had seen leopard and lion last night it meant we were tracking down the other 3 of the Big Five. Rhino was spotted almost immediately out of the camp and so that meant two to go only.
The game is relatively sparse around the camp at the moment because most of the bush is Marula trees and we discovered today that the animals don’t like the smell and the taste of the grass under Marula trees. I have been coming to the game parks for probably 40 years now and that is the first time I have heard that. It does explain why game viewing in Marula’s areas is always poor though.
We headed South and were soon out of the Marula trees. It didn’t take us long to find Elephant and our ranger stopped right in the midst of the herd. It is not something I would do while viewing elephant but he seemed quite happy and I trust their ability, knowledge and instincts while viewing game. It was really interesting watching the elephants munch their way through the bush. A bushveld stop for morning tea, coffee or hot chocolate and then back onto the Landcruiser to head back to the lodge. As we came back in we saw a small group of buffalo and so that was the Big Five complete in 2 drives.
At these lodges you basically spend your day eating and so it was back for breakfast were Helen was reunited with us. And then we could chill for until lunch time. A few of us managed to get in a nap before lunch and then back for lunch, another nap for those that wanted to after lunch and then back for afternoon tea at 3:30pm and off on the evening game drive.
It was a scorcher of a day today with the temperature getting to around 34-35 degrees C and this evening’s drive was also very hot even though we were on an open game vehicle. The best part of the drive this evening was after we had stopped for drinks (and watching the sunset) we went to a hyena den and heard them whooping and then saw a number of hyena. Our ranger (Dyke) said there are 10 teenagers (around 4-8 months old – from different mothers) and 5 adults. One of them walked right past the vehicle.
I did eventually add a lifer to my bird list tonight – Jameson’s Firefinch. We have seen other Firefinches but not that one yet and we managed to see it right on the road in front of us. We are also up to exactly 100 bird species for the trip. I am sure if Stephen had been here we would have been up at least 20 birds.
It was then back to the lodge for dinner and some traditional dancing and singing as entertainment. It really is a fantastic way to spend a day. It is just a pity it had to end. I could do this every day if you gave me the chance. Africa is in my blood …
Until tomorrow, P, H, M, C, the in laws and JB and HW