Today was a significant day in our family’s life – 25 years of marriage. And Helen managed to do something she has not done in the 26 years I have known her until today. We went on our usual morning drive. We went to the Sweni Bird Hide. On route we saw 3 separate sightings of hyena and a variety of other game. While sitting at the hide and watching crocodile (out of the water) and a variety of birds (and some standard impala), Helen suddenly started feeling nauseous and was sweating. She wanted to go back to the car and about half-way back I realised she wasn’t going to do it without my support and about a meter from the car I realised my support was not going to be enough either as she crumbled to the ground. I shouted for Stephen who came charging with the other kids and Michael and I managed to lift her and lie her down on the back seat of the Kombi. She was sweating profusely. She had taken medication for a sore back (in the middle of the night) and it clearly had dropped her blood pressure and pulse. When we took her heart rate it was 40 beats per minute.
Fortunately we had salt & vinegar chips with us and after she ate some of those (and some wine gums), her pulse went back up to high 50s and she started to recover. While she was recovering, we took the opportunity to have our morning coffee and hot chocolate and the by the time we were finished she felt well enough to make the trip back to Satara. We unfortunately didn’t see anything on the way back. Helen has fully recovered (don’t worry parents & parents-in-law) and she will avoid the medication in future. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in the camp.
We went out at 4pm this afternoon and decided to take the road that people had seen cheetah and lion on this morning. Of course the animals move around but we were hopeful. Unfortunately at all the places other people had these sightings, we saw nothing. However, when we got to the Girivani Dam (more like a waterhole) we finally managed to see two lion – one male lying in the shade of the water reservoir and a female on the other side of the road lying under a tree. The male was almost impossible to see until an elephant came to the reservoir to drink and chased the male lion (which was great for us). The lion then was forced to get up and came to the water trough to drink instead and we had a great view of him. By this point we suddenly noticed the female had vanished from her spot and some impala and wildebeest were trying to come to the water to drink – until they noticed the male lion.
Interspersed with this a black backed jackal had appeared – checked out the male lion in the shade and then gone to the water trough to drink. The elephant also continued to drink from the reservoir (and probably spent 15-20 minutes drinking). Just when we thought the action couldn’t continue, some vultures arrived as well and then suddenly out of the bush walk another 2 male lions and come to the water trough to drink and the other male lion joins them for another drink as well. As we were 15 kms from the camp and it was 6:10pm we figured we had better drive back otherwise we wouldn’t make the closing time for the gate. A brief stop for another hyena on the side of the road was all we made (except for a few quick shots of the beautiful bushveld sunset and the almost ‘super’ moon rising). It was just on 6:30pm when we drove back in and the gate official had already closed one half of the gate by this point. She didn’t look impressed with us sneaking in at that time (though there were still a few cars behind us too). It was a great afternoon and Helen and I were particularly pleased that the kids saw such a great lion sighting eventually.
Champagne for the 25th anniversary toast and then a braai for dinner. Michael kindly did the whole braai from lighting through to the cooking. It was a nice way to round out the day.
H (because after this morning she deserves first and also having put up with me for 25 years), P, M (for his braaiing tonight), D (because he washed the dishes tonight), S & C.