We were up at 5am and heading out the gates at 5:20am. Sunrise was actually 5:30am only – gates actually open at 4:30am in January but I saw no point in driving around in the dark. We decided to drive east toward the Mozambique border. The road is one of the best roads in the KNP for lion sightings and we were not disappointed.
Not far down the road we added buffalo – Big 5 number 3 and shortly after that we added Big 5 number 4 as well. About 10km in and we spotted a male lion walking east in line with the road. Not far down the road we saw a herd of impala and a confusion of wildebeest (yes that is the proper collective noun – you’ve learnt something today … now you’re all Googling it to …). They were very alert and all looking in the one direction and sure enough we then spotted the balance of the pride (females) walking along too. It seems they were on the hunt and some impala or wildebeest for breakfast would have been ideal. We watched them for 15 minutes but no action and the lions seemed to give up and head in the other direction.
The rest of the road yielded a lot of game including two cheetah. We stopped for coffee at the Nwanetsi picnic spot which overlooks the dam and while we were drinking coffee I managed to add another lifer to my list of birds – we saw African Finfoot. After coffee we stopped in at the Sweni bird hide where 2 years ago Helen had almost passed out. Fortunately this time was not a repeat. The bird life has been incredible so far. We saw over 50 birds in one day. Obviously things slow down the longer we stay here but this is probably the best start to a KNP trip I have had when it comes to birding.
We got back to the camp just before 10am in the end and spent the balance of the day in the camp just relaxing – napping, I did some work, Helen read etc. It was pretty hot again but not as hot as yesterday (around 32-33 degrees C today). We went out for a short evening game drive at 4pm and got back before 6pm. We added some birds to the trip list and while there was a reasonable amount of game – it was things we had seen already.
Started the braai (Ostrich steak salad for supper tonight) and while it was burning down, I noticed movement under our car. Shone the torch and out pops a spotted genet which then tamely walks away. We followed it for a bit trying to take a photo. I forgot to say that last night we also had a visit from a honey badger while we were eating and he/she reappeared again tonight while we were eating. Helen tried to get a photo of that too but unfortunately we missed it.
Pretty good day for our 1st full day in the game park. Looking forward to tomorrow!
P & H