It was predicted to be the hottest day today since we arrived and it didn’t fail to deliver. Helen went for a run at before 5:30am and it was already well into the 20s at that point. We went out for a morning game drive at about 6am and by the time we climbed into the car it was 24 degrees already. At one stage today my weather app said 37 degrees but feels like 43 degrees … no kidding! Helen walked outside the hut at one stage and came back in and said “It’s not like walking into an oven out there, it’s like walking into a furnace”. At dinner tonight (after I had braai’d), the sweat was running down my back, front … actually everywhere. Helen said it was even running down her legs. The thunder clouds had built up this afternoon and we thought we would get some rain as relief but in the end they dissipated and no relief gained.
The morning drive reinstated our belief that the animals and birds hadn’t vacated the Kruger Park. We headed north following the Letaba River and then continued to follow the river on a road leading to Mingerhout Dam. We had been led to believe the road in that direction wouldn’t be too productive but it turned out to be the best morning drive since staying at Letaba. We saw hyena and two of the Big 5 – elephant (a massive heard) and buffalo (and a lot of other standard game). Unfortunately it turned out to be a no-predator drive (and day) again. However, we did see a Greater Painted Snipe (in fact we saw 4 of them). They are very rare birds and near-threatened. A lot of longstanding birders probably have never seen them. They are definitely harder to see than lions, leopard and cheetah. And we had a great view of them and even managed to get some photos (they were that close). That sighting alone would have made the morning drive for us.
By the time we got back to the camp (before 9am) it was already 29 degrees. We had no plans to do anything but stay in the air-conditioned hut. Well maybe that’s not entirely true – I had plans to watch the cricket and fortunately the cellphone reception is that good I could stream it live without any issue at all. Helen went to the river for some bird watching at one point but the cricket trumped that for me. She did see a few trippers but I am sure I can catch those up in the next 8 days still. In fact during the evening drive we saw one of them. We are now at 123 birds for the trip (Helen probably has a few more).
We did do an evening drive but it was pretty fruitless (except added 3 trip birds). We have come to the conclusion that it is just too hot still during the evening game drives. The morning drives are the best for both animals and birding.
Braai (chicken wings and vegetables) for dinner (with sweating pouring off me while I did it!) and then as quickly as possible back into the hut with the aircon on!
Until tomorrow …
P & H