This morning we left Talamiti and headed out of the Kruger Park. While Talamiti was a nice bushcamp, there is not a lot of game in the area and there are only dirt roads (which are in poor shape) to get to and from the camp (and it is about 20 kms to the nearest tar road). So we never went on a morning game drive and rather just left the camp at around 8am. We headed back to Orpen and then out of the Kruger Park. We didn’t really see much this morning and really only a few birds for the trip. Along with a few birds we saw this evening we are now up to 91 for the trip but still no lifers which is quite disappointing as I had hoped to make my 400 mark on this trip.
We headed out of the Kruger Park to Hoedspruit as we were collecting two friends from the airport there who would be joining us for the next 2 days. They arrived on the flight in from Johannesburg which landed at about 11:20am. We got there with plenty of time to spare and explored the whole airport in about 2 minutes. It only has 3 flights in and out per day and pretty much everyone is coming in or out of a game lodge. They bring the luggage from the plane with a tractor and just stop in front of the ‘terminal’ building and everyone just helps themselves.
We then headed into the Timbavati Nature Reserve to go to Ngala Lodge. It is one of the &Beyond lodges (http://www.andbeyond.com/ngala-safari-lodge). It took us about 1 hour 15 minutes to reach the lodge even though it is only about 50 kms from the airport. The reason being that the road is very rutted and slow going especially when driving a VW Kombi. We arrived just before 1pm and so were perfectly in time for lunch. At 3:30pm we met up again to go for the evening game drive.
As we had seen a lot over the last 5 days we were hoping to add leopard to the trip but not expecting it. We have been to Ngala before and struggled to see any leopard. Our ranger is Dyke and he has worked at Ngala for 24 years (starting out in the kitchen and working his way up to becoming a ranger). There was not a lot to see to start with on the drive but then one of the other vehicles found a leopard (fairly young one at about 18 months) and we had an excellent sighting. It was just lying around until we arrived but then it decided to get up and immediately saw a warthog which is stalked and then chased. Our ranger was just laughing and saying there is no chance he will take out the warthog and it was just for practice/fun rather than a serious attempt. He said a male warthog would win against a young leopard. The leopard did give up but then walked off and saw Impala and tried to surprise one of them until they spotted the leopard too. It was a lot of excitement especially since the leopard walked right past of the vehicle.
We headed off and almost immediately ended up with a sighting of 3 male lions. They also were just chilling but occasionally one of them would get up and walk around. When they did you were reminded of how powerful they are. A stop for sundowners and then back to the lodge for the Boma dinner (with a choice of pork loin, ostrich sausage and oxtail). We are now in the room and about to lay our heads down on the pillow for night as we will be waken at 5am for a morning drive again.
Until tomorrow … P, H, M, C, the in laws (and JB and HW)