Pafuri to Vaal River to Beaufort West to Home

We had a long drive ahead of ahead of us and so we didn’t do a morning game drive. We had breakfast and said goodbye to SK who were driving to Punda Maria gate and then exiting the park and heading to Hoedspruit airport to fly back to Cape Town. The other 5 of us were exiting at Pafuri and then heading west until we hit the N1 and then heading south for 2000 kms back to Cape Town on the N1. We did have a short stop in Gauteng to drop off B who was flying back from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

The drive was pretty uneventful and we dropped off B and then headed through Gauteng. Due to Covid regulations in place and the level of Covid in Gauteng we weren’t keen on stopping anywhere and so just headed through it and to our first overnight destination which was Pont de Val (https://www.pontdeval.co.za/) alongside the Vaal River but actually in the Free State. They moved us from the hotel into the self-catering apartments (which actually cost more) because the change of regulations had resulted in all Gauteng residents not being able to stay and there was no one else at the hotel. It suited us as the restaurant was closed which meant we could easier self-cater. They provided the breakfast though still and we were really impressed at what they provided. Eggs, bacon, cheese, salami, ham, baguette, fruit, yogurt, fruit juice etc etc. Really was very generous and we are still eating from what they gave us!

The place was really quite a nice place. Right on the river with picnic places and a winery. Such a shame to see it so closed up. They had a deli, an ice cream parlor, a bar, bistro, restaurant and even a small grocery store. You really have to feel for the owners and staff of places like that. We were glad that we at least had provided them with some income for the one day (and it really only seemed to be us and one other couple in the whole place).

We left just after 8am the next morning and continued heading south. The driving was actually relatively easy until about 9:30am with very few cars on the road. The traffic picked up and the thing I noticed the most was how many trucks there were. I reckon for every car there were 3 trucks on the road (not exaggerating at all). We got to Beaufort West at about 4:30pm.

Lunch stop on way home in Colesburg

We stayed the night at Lemoenfontein Game Lodge (https://www.lemoenfontein.co.za/). It was already single digits degrees C when we arrived and we realised it would be a pretty cold night. We did a quick walk down the road as they are situated in a nature reserve and saw some springbok. They do a dinner which was bobotie and roast karoo lamb with vegetables (including roast potatoes) and malva pudding for desert. It was close to home cooking and so we really appreciated the simplicity of the meal.

Late afternoon walk at Lemoenfontein

When we woke the next morning it was -1 degree C outside though it was sunny and dry and so didn’t really feel that cold. We had breakfast at 8am and then headed for the last stretch of our drive home. It was relatively easy driving and we got home at around 1:30pm.

It was a lovely holiday even though the restrictions changed mid the holiday but we were grateful to be able to enjoy the time together with friends and family. The driving was also not as taxing as I thought it would be and H and I have purposed that we will probably drive again next Jan/Feb when we do our usual Kruger Park trip.

Until next time …

P, H, C & J (and M, O, B, S, R, J, S, K, B who separated from us at various times earlier)

Pafuri Day 2

We were woken at around 6am and I realised how cold the air was around my head but how warm it was in the bed. One of those situations that you know you’re going to regret getting out of bed the moment you do and then regretting not sleeping with your clothes inside the bed with you! The air outside the tent was actually warmer than the air inside the tent. It did make me get dressed quickly and head to the lodge for some coffee before we departed on our morning game drive.

We added some more birds and again saw Eland and all the other standard animal sightings. There are a lot of nyala in the area – seems more than the impala actually. That is one of the noticeable things about the region. Bongani stopped the vehicle and said he had some bad news, we had a flat tyre. Sure enough the front left had lost pressure and so he sprung into action to make the change. We all just watched while he did everything. In about 15 minutes the tyre was changed and we headed off again.

We had driven to an area of riverine forest up against the Limpopo river in the hope of being able to see some of the bird specials and while we did add a few for the trip (and again some lifers for others but not me) we hadn’t seen any of the specials until a Crowned Eagle took off from a tree in front of us and flew low right over the vehicle. A very impressive sight and a definite lifer for all of us including me.

Bongani wanted to have morning drinks overlooking a pan but as we got closer the road had been washed away. There was a way around but it was over a very sandy patch. We suggested that we all get out and he take it at high speed and then we could get back in again once he was through it. He got stuck a few meters short of the end of the patch but after engaging 4×4 and the diff lock (which had to be done manually – the vehicle is that old), he was able to get it out and we all jumped in and we made to the pan for morning coffee.

Unfortunately we had to head back the same way. Bongani said it would be fine for all of us to stay on the vehicle this time but that turned out to be an error. The vehicle got stuck and even with the diff lock on the tyres were spinning and just digging us deeper in. He eventually suggested a ‘lady’ drive so H took up the challenge and drove well all the men pushed but no success. After trying numerous things including rocks under the wheels, digging out the sand etc, he gave up and radioed and asked for another vehicle to come out and pull us out. That took about 45 minutes to arrive (as the guy went to the wrong side of the pan to start with) and even with the tow rope the car wouldn’t come out. So H got back into the drivers and all the men pushed and immediately we could feel it start to come out and so H drove it out. She now considers herself an expert 4×4 driver and even bought herself a ReturnAfrica shirt!

By this stage it was pretty late and so we drove rapidly back to camp and got back after midday to have breakfast! J was about to expire because of hunger. Nothing could have prevented him for going straight to breakfast and they certainly couldn’t bring the food quickly enough. Fortunately there was about an hour after we finished breakfast so he could be properly replenished.

We decided to have a shorter evening drive and asked Bongani to not to go too far from the camp. H was ready not to go at all but I persuaded her to come as it would be our last game drive. We stopped for our evening drinks alongside a pan with a lot of birds and enjoyed the sunset and drinks there and then headed back into camp again. S spotted a Giant Eagle Owl on the way back in. We have seen them before but it was a lifer for B & K and we haven’t seen one for a few years so it was really nice to see it again. We did another another lifer later when we saw a Barn Owl that was roosting in a knot in a tree. We could just see it peaking out.

It was our last dinner all together and as we had gotten back a little earlier it was a little more relaxed and again an very enjoyable evening.

P, H, S (he gets his reinstatement for spotting the owl), K, C, J & B

Shingwedzi to Pafuri

At 7am we left Shingwedzi and we separated ways with BSRJ. They were headed south to exit out the Kruger Park at Phalaborwa and then onto to Haartebeestpoort Dam (or somewhere near there). We were heading further north to Pafuri which was about a 90 km drive. We did both go and have a quick look at the lion on the giraffe kill again and found a male lion had joined the females and the male was eating while we were there.

We stopped for a quick break the Babalaba picnic spot again and then headed on north. We couldn’t check in until later and so we did a quick loop in the north which takes you to Crook’s Corner. Crook’s Corner is where Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa meet. It is also where the Limpopo and Luvhuvhu rivers meet. It is called that because it was an idea place for fugitives to just jump from one country to another and therefore evade capture. It is also an area which has some birds that you can really only see in that area of SA. That was one of the major reasons for us to try and get to Pafuri during this trip so we could hopefully see some of the specials of the area. I did add some trippers but no lifers but for others (B, S & K) it was a fruitful detour allowing them to add some lifers.

We then headed over the Luvhuvhu River and toward Return Africa’s Pafuri Tented Camp. The camp is situated right on the river which each of the luxury tents having a river view. After dispensing with the formalities of the check in process during Covid times, we were taken to our tents. We quickly realised that you’re either at the tent or in the lodge and you’re going to stay at that place once there. It was a 250 meter walk to H & my tent and we were the nearest to the lodge! Forget something in the tent and you have to walk 0.5km just to correct your mistake.

The tents were really nice with a large King size bed and both an indoor and outdoor shower (so you could be one with nature while showering off the dust). Lunch was served at 2:30pm and then we headed off on our first game drive. Our ranger was Bongani. He was from the local community you owned the land and grew up in the nearby village. It was great to have a local to guide us. We made it clear that the animals we saw would be a bonus but we were there for the birds and most especially Pels Fishing Owl (which has eluded us despite being to places that boast you will see it).

Very quickly we added some trip birds to our list and some of the group added lifers (none for me though). We did see a large herd of Eland in the drive – it was the first time we had seen them on the trip and so that was an interesting sighting. We stopped for drinks as the sunset over a pan. You simply never get used to or tired of bushveld sunsets.

We hopped back onto the game vehicle and now headed off in the dark back to the camp. They have no trackers so the ranger does the driving and also shining the spotlight. I had my doubts about the effectiveness of that but as it turned out Bongani was incredibly good at it. We saw a LOT of game on the way back including driving through a herd of elephant (not something you really want to do in the dark!). Most impressively we saw a spotted genet in a tree and then not much further down the road we saw another one as well. We saw night-jars (unfortunately we were unable to ID them as they didn’t call) and bush babies in the trees as well. H concluded that she reckons that was the best night drive we have ever had in a game park (pretty high praise).

After dinner we were all pretty exhausted and headed back to our tents for the night. I think we were in bed and asleep by 8:30pm!

Until next time …

P, H, J, K, B, C & S

Shingwedzi Day 2

We decided to leave as the gates opened (6am) to go and see the lion kill and see what was happening and then head north along H & my favourite road which runs along the river north from Shingwedzi. There were already a number of cars watching and a lioness was feeding again from the giraffe carcass. It had been dragged slightly further off the road (and I mean slightly). We spent about an hour watching the lions playing around and eating from time to time and then headed off north.

The river road has a lot of game on it including a significant amount of bird life as well. While we did see a lot of game, we unfortunately did not see any predators though. We had decided to have breakfast at the Babalala picnic site before heading back to camp again. We rented a gas skottel again (in fact we rented two) and had eggs and bacon. There is something special about having breakfast in the bushveld.

Our cars had become very dusty and some of the younger persons among us had taken to writing on the caked in dust. The pic is of the rental car that S was driving (inscription not done by him though). S though though inscribing ‘I ♡ BMW’ on the back of my car. Now you know why S has descended at the end of this post. In fact, I was so disgusted that I was tempted to leave him off entirely.

We got back to camp mid-morning with 2 cars going to check on the lions on the way back. They were sleeping given it was well past 30 degrees C I wasn’t surprised! Our accommodation has a view of the river which was mainly dry but not totally. I spent a significant time early afternoon just sitting outside doing emails (cellphone signal was best under the tree looking over the river). My view was the picture below. Impressively I did manage to add another lifer to my list while sitting there – Grey Penduline Tit which made it my 3rd lifer for the trip.

The evening we went out for the loop around the camp and besides adding to the dust in and in our cars, we didn’t see much. It was our last dinner together before BSRJ left us and started on their homeward journey. A braai was obligatory, enjoyed with some good wine and as always, great company.

We did our usual highlights and lowlights of the trip after dinner. I can’t remember them all but here are a selection:
Highlights:
– Ngala experience
– Lioness meeting up with lion cubs
– Leopard and her cubs in the tree
– Rhino and calf
– Journey and company of friends
– Bush walk in Ngala

Lowlights:
– Lion kill because of the inconsiderate and selfish drivers and numerous cars
– Pilgrim’s Rest (because it is so run down)
– Lack of game spotted in the Kruger
– Long drives
– Full English Breakfast – which J described as neither ‘full’ nor ‘English’

But I think everyone would say that regardless of game we saw or didn’t see, the company and time with each other is the thing we all enjoy the most. Our only regret was that our other two friends S&L weren’t able to join us as was originally intended.

P, H, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C, S

Olifants to Shingwedzi

We had a relatively long travel from Olifants to Shingwedzi (over 100 kms) which at Kruger speeds is about a 4-5 hour drive. We decided to have breakfast and leave and we were on the road around 8am. We did a stop at Letaba for toilet and coffee and then headed further north to Mopani. We saw all the standard game but unfortunately still no more predators. We arrived at Mopani just before midday and decided to get some takeaway meals for lunch.

Mopani’s restaurant is situated right over a lake and has some good birding. It also regularly has elephants drinking and bathing and this time was no exception. A sizeable herd was drinking and a few were fighting in the water (or so it seemed though some people around said they could just be playing). We got our takeaways and ate them at the lookout. The temperature was rising quickly and we were already into the 30 degrees and still rising. The further north we went the hotter it became.

After lunch we continued heading north toward Shingwedzi. The game viewing was a bit more sparse as the temperature rose the animals are definitely less active. Finding shelter from the sun was the order of the day and a lot of game were under the trees. We did see a small herd of tsessebe which are very rare in the park. In fact there are only an estimated 220 so it is quite difficult to see them. Often people drive past these sort of sightings and don’t appreciate that they are actually much harder to see than lion or leopard in the park.

Just as we were approaching Shingwedzi, we saw a giraffe carcass on the side of the road. At first we were confused as to why it was there as it was just lying there. Then we reversed a bit and saw the 3 lionesses lying under a bush in the shade. They had clearly recently managed to kill the giraffe and had eaten their fill but clearly weren’t finished with it. We watched for awhile and then a ranger drove up and got out of his vehicle to take a photo of the giraffe carcass! We tried to get his attention to point out that there were lion lying there and he just nodded and took the photo and then hopped back into his car and drove off. No idea why he did that! We purposed to come back later again and do another check in.

We checked in at the camp and had some down time until about 4pm when we decided to go out again. 2 cars went for a quick loop around the camp and then to the lions while one went straight to the lion kill. They messaged to say that the lionesses were eating and so we all headed over. Unfortunately everyone in the camp had the same idea and so there were tons of cars and really not a great view. We stayed for some time and managed to edge into a better view until some inconsiderate driver decided to park right in front of us and almost rolled her car into the lions and carcass! It is incredible how selfish people are at these sort of sightings and really annoys me as it spoils the Kruger experience.

We got back into camp just before the gates closed. We had chicken schnitzel for dinner accompanied by some very good wine courtesy of my birthday present which now had to get finished before we left the park thanks to the alcohol ban that is now in force.

It was a long and hot day but an enjoyable one with a great sighting of lion on a giraffe kill very close to the road.

Until later …

P, H, S, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C

Sunset at Ngala

Olifants Day 2

We decided to head out to Letaba and have breakfast at the day visitors site where you can rent a skottel for R30. We took the route north along the river which is notorious for grumpy elephants. We did see quite a few elephants and one trumpeted at us as we passed him but otherwise the trip there was uneventful and not a lot of other game was seen. We headed back after breakfast along the tar road which also didn’t yield much game.

We spent the day generally chilling in the camp and did do a short evening drive south along the river. There was quite a lot of game to be seen especially impala, giraffe, wildebees & zebra but no predators. It is quite incredible that after having been in the Kruger Park for 5 days we are yet to see lion. This is probably the longest I have been here in a stretch without seeing lion. Some of our group are also yet to see leopard or cheetah as well. If it hadn’t been for the time in Ngala we would be quite disappointed.

We did a braai for dinner (done by S). An uneventful day but relaxing day. The view from our accommodation at Olifants was fantastic though. It probably is one of the best views in the Kruger Park.

Until later …

P, H, S, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C

(Finally have WiFi … will post some more updates soon)

Satara to Olifants

Some people decided to skip the morning game drive. We took 2 cars (me, S, K & J in one and B & R in the other). We left at 6am as we wanted to ensure we got back by 9am as we had to check out by 10am. We headed south and as it was still dark S was the tracker with the torch out of the side window looking for eyes. We then turned west along the Sweni River. I have driven that road before and seen quite a bit and I just ‘felt’ that it was a the right decision.

Not long after the turn we saw a hyena which walked right past the cars and then headed down the road. B&R decided to follow it but our car went on. Not more than 1km further down the road and we saw what we thought originally were three black backed jackal but actually turned out to be two jackal and an African Wild Cat in a bit of a stand off. Unfortunately B&R missed it because they were still tracking the hyena in the other direction. They all dispersed and we drove on and about 2km further along a car was stopped and the driver told me they had seen a leopard cross the road in front of them but had lost it. We reversed and then they called us parallel with them and we got to see the leopard as it was heading off into the bush. We drove on and about 5km further both K&J shouted stop and I reversed and we found a honey badger eating a tortoise. Unfortunately just before B&R arrived the badger got a fright and dropped the tortoise and disappeared into the bush. Definitely the most successful morning drive we have had so far.

We had breakfast and then packed up and left for Olifants camp. As it wasn’t a long drive we decided to take the dirt road rather than the tar road north and about half way up we came across a lot of parked cars. The one guy told us it was a cheetah but he had struggled to see it. We drove up and reversed a number of times and then finally while I was looking though the binoculars I realised that what I though was a tree stump was actually a cheetah sitting up. Our whole car managed to see it and I was happy especially for J (as he was very keen to see one). The cheetah then decided to stretch and got up and walked off further into the distance. Unfortunately the other cars never saw it.

We got to Olifants at lunch time and decided to have lunch in the restaurant. It was a good call because that night our President announced that restaurants would need to shut due to the 3rd wave of Covid and take away only allowed for next 2 weeks. The alcohol ban also created a problem or two for us as I had been given 4 bottles of really nice wine for my birthday present during the trip. Those now will need to be drunk before we exit the park as you can’t even transport alcohol for next 14 days.

We spent the afternoon just in the camp as our accommodation overlooked the river. You really can just sit there and enjoy the view. I also set up my birding scope I got from H for my 50th. It has magnification of up to 60x so you can literally see a lizard on a rock in the river! We saw things with it that you couldn’t otherwise have seen even with binoculars.

As we had braaied for 3 nights running we decided to have pasta for dinner and then the evening finished somewhat depressingly get updates on the new Covid restrictions and trying to figure out the implications for the balance of our travels. Fortunately it seems we can continue to do what we had hoped to do.

I have still been struggling with cellphone signal and so hopefully this one goes through. If it does I will try to post another one later today as well.

P, H, S, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C

Rhino and calf from Ngala

Satara Days 2 & 3

C is questioning whether I can remember this far back given I haven’t been able to send out a blog for a few days. Not sure whether she thinks that now that I’m over 50 my memory has gone or what?!

We left for a morning drive at 6:15am. The sun really only rises at about 6:30am at the moment so while the gates open at 6am, it seems a little more sensible to leave a bit later. We headed east out to the Nwanedzi Picnic site. The gravel road runs along the river and is generally excellent for sightings of lion due to the herds of zebra, wildebees and impala that are in the area. We unfortunately didn’t see any lion. After morning coffee we headed to the bird hide nearby and then headed back west along the tar road and then back to camp for a late breakfast. We did see hyena (including pups) on the way back. The pups are pretty cute especially compared to the adults.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in the camp just relaxing and then headed out for a late afternoon game drive which took us past two waterholes. Again nothing spectacular on that drive. Dinner was a braai and enjoyable conversation around the braai (as always). We got a visit from an African wildcat while we were braaiing. H & I have seen them before in Satara and it is known that they are resident around the camp. Still a special treat to see them in the wild.

The next morning we headed north out of the camp and soon after leaving the camp we came across a porcupine running up the road. I have not seen a lot of them (if any) in the Kruger Park and so it was quite a nice treat to see it in the road. We then headed west to the Timbavati picnic spot with a quick stop at the Ratel Pan bird hide on the way there. A reasonable amount of game to be seen but again no lion, leopard, cheetah.

For the afternoon/evening game drive we had less people wanting to come so we headed out with 2 cars only and headed due south on the tar road with the view to drive about 90 minutes down to the Kumara dam and then turn around and drive back to the camp again. There was plenty of game to be seen but once again just the standard game. The most interesting thing was seeing a hippo stuck in the mud at the dam and we reckon it wasn’t able to get out. Not sure what happened to it because we didn’t go back but I reckon it could have become food for predators.

We had a braai for dinner again and while getting the fires going we spotted a honey badger. H and I have seen them before in the camps and they are pretty vicious (if you have ever watched the Top Gear Southern Africa special you will know what Jeremy Clarkson thinks about them). Everyone came out to look at it as it was drinking some water from the drain and then it ran around the other side of the hut. Next thing we know it has jumped up onto the stoep and grabbed a bag of chicken (B&S chicken) and run off to eat it. B managed to salvage some of the chicken but the badger had licked it so we reckoned probably not safe to eat. B said he was prepared to sacrifice his chicken to see it (though not sure S felt the same way).

At least I managed to catch up 2 days and I hope to do another 2 days tomorrow so that we get back on track at least. It has been really difficult with cellphone reception being so poor. Not sure why because usually it is a reasonable but this trip we have really struggled.

Until tomorrow ….

P, H, S, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C (see comment at start why she is now at end ….)

PS: Sorry no photos but struggling to get anything downloaded tonight again.

Ngala to Kruger Park

You might be wondering why the blogs suddenly stopped but the issue is not the desire to send a blog but rather the fact that my internet access suddenly dried up!

we had a morning game drive on Thursday at Ngala and we went out in search of rhino. Due to poaching, the prevalence of rhino’s in the area has declined substantially. The rangers told us that about 20 years ago you could go on a drive and you would definitely see 3-4 rhino on one single drive. We had been there for almost 3 days and hadn’t seen one at all. We set out to see if we could find one as they knew that a mother and calf where relatively close to the lodge. We did some roads to the north we had never done and then when heading south the tracker suddenly said ‘rhino’ and sure enough there was the mother and baby rhino. It was such an impressive sighting (my best ever of a rhino). The baby was frolicking around and kept running into his mother. Would run toward the game truck and then stop and turn and run back again. It was very cute to watch and enjoy!

We had our last coffee stop overlooking a dam and then back for breakfast at the lodge, pack up and leave. It was a fabulous 3 days but it was non-stop and you almost feel like you need a holiday after it! We had a 90 minute drive back to Hoedspruit as we had to drop MO off at the airport as they were flying back to Cape Town (they had a wedding to attend on Saturday). We also needed to do some grocery shopping in Hoedspruit before we headed back east again to the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park (KNP).

We headed into KNP and toward Satara which was our next stop for the next 3 nights. We saw a lot of the standard game (giraffe, zebra, impala, baboon, vervet monkey, steenbuck etc) on the way into the camp. We got in around 4pm and check in to find that the cellphone signal was very poor or non-existent (hence the lack of blogs). Dinner was a braai (as you should expect) and then it was off to bed and sleep pretty early as we were all exhausted from an early morning and a jam packed day!

Until the next time I’m able to post …

P, H, S, K, M, O (for the last time), C, J, B, R, J, S, B

PS: Sorry no pics – couldn’t upload them!

Ngala – 50th Birthday celebrations

Today was my 50th birthday and I honestly could not think of a better way to spend it but in a game park with my family and closest friends. It was a fantastic day of great memories.

We headed out for our morning game drive at the usual time after being woken up at 5:30am. The plan was to do a ‘Grade 2’ walk and that means tracking elephant, rhino or buffalo on foot but in order to do that you need to find their spoor and then track them. We couldn’t all do that together so the plan was to split up and do separate ones. We headed to an area where they usually find rhino and the other vehicle headed to a different area after hearing there was an elephant bull in the area. The other vehicle with Eric as the ranger just happened across a lioness and that ruled out the possibility of them getting a walk in. That lioness then reunited with her cubs.

The possibility of spotting something on foot immediately was overridden by actually spending time with lions and cubs and so we headed over to the area and after the younger generation were finished, we took their spot and watched the lions interacting. It was amazing to see (and hear!) the cubs feeding. It was also interesting to watch a lioness return to the pride and how the other lions responded by rubbing up to the others. By the way, I forgot to say that before we saw the lions we happened upon 5 hyena including one carrying a rack of ribs!

We then started to head back to the camp but instead of breakfast at the lodge, they had organised breakfast in the bush for us and the other guests. It was a lovely experience especially on your birthday! We then walked from the breakfast venue back to the camp instead of driving back. The walk was a ‘Grade 1’ walk so really trying to avoid the game but rather just talk about the ‘smaller’ things of the bush including the different plants/trees, ant lions etc. It was really interesting though pretty warm. It took us just about an hour to walk back (though it was only 2 kms roughly). We did hear elephant noises and the guides were very quick to direct us away from them so that we didn’t in any way get into danger.

We got back to the lodge at 11am and lunch was at the usual time of 1pm. Everyone was pretty full so we only headed to lunch a bit later and most people had very limited lunch given how late breakfast was. When we were finishing up at lunch we saw a herd of elephant come down to the pool area to have a drink so we all rushed over to watch them do that (the way it is constructed enables you to do that safely).

By the time we were finished watching it was already almost time to head off for the afternoon game drive. This time all the family went together to celebrate my birthday on the one truck. Immediately we got on the truck Nikki told us that they had found a female leopard with a Nyala kill and while they hadn’t see them, she had 2 cubs as well. We headed straight to the area to see if we could get an opportunity to see them. It was better than expected. The leopard was up the tree just lying but after a fe minutes the Nyala head fell from the tree ans she immediately jumped down to eat some and also to cover the scent. She then called in the cubs and basically out of nowhere they appeared. They both ended up scaling the tree and feeding from the remaining carcass. What an incredible sighting.

We then headed back north for a drinks stop but on route Nikki told us they spotted aarvark spoor and we should just check them out. They are very hard to see. After a few minutes our ranger said ‘Look there – one in the road’ and we all couldn’t believe it. M actually turned and told J how lucky he was to see it given how rare sightings are. As we moved closer the aardvark never moved and then we realised it was a bronzed aardvark! The rangers and their respective girlfriends (both of whom are also at the lodge) had played a prank on us! But the good news was that they had a bush drinks break already set up for us including a cake with a sparkler for my birthday. Another special experience!

After a long drinks break, we headed back to the camp and saw a hyena on the way back. Dinner was in the boma again tonight (beef & trout for main course) and a lovely way to top off a fantastic day to celebrate my 50th. The number of birthday messages was almost overwhelming. It was a truly special day with great friends and family. The only downside was that our friends who live in the UK never made it out due to Covid … we did miss you S&L!

Until tomorrow

P, H, S, K, M, O, C, J, B, S, R, J, B