This morning was a repeat of yesterday in that we woke up at 6am, had breakfast and then left for our drive from Olifants to Bateleur Bush Camp. You might be wondering (or at least you should be) how I have managed to post a blog from a Bush Camp. The reality is that we have no cellphone signal and that was a loss to everyone. We all reckon we could manage for a day or so but anything longer than that would be a tragedy. Incredibly though the reception her has WiFi (why on earth we don’t know) and even more incredibly it is unlocked. We are the nearest possible hut to reception and I have 2 bars of WiFi on my laptop (none on my iPhone though) so just strong enough to connect and send.
The drive from Olifants to Bateleur is about 120 km. It was pretty uneventful in that we did not see anything major at all (unless you classify Elephants as major). We stopped for morning coffee at Letaba, Ice Creams and a few other purchases at Mopani and then onto to Bateleur. When we left at 7am this morning it was already 20 degrees and by 11am it was up to 28 degrees. Animals were scarce and even the birding wasn’t great. There were times when the bushveld was just quite – not a thing was heard at all.
By after Mopani the car inhabitants were dropping like flies and soon I could not even see Helen as she has become horizontal on the very back seat. Michael was examining the insides of his eyelids and Stephen was either nodding in agreement with me or nodding right off to sleep. Only Chloe was awake though she didn’t spot anything, but to be fair neither did I. Under these circumstances you would think it appropriate to let Chloe try her hand with driving on my lap but I would never allow such a thing in a hired car of course. Neither would it be appropriate for Stephen later to have a go with driving a manual and trying a hill start.
We got to Bateleur Bush Camp at just after 1pm. When I walked into reception the ranger on duty greeted me by name. I was very surprised but he said we were the biggest group arriving today so he knew immediately it was us. There are only 7 huts at the camp. We have hut number 1 which is also nearest the bird hide. While we were having a late lunch a herd of elephant came down to drink at the waterhole which you can see from the hide and from our veranda. About 30 elephants including a number of very small baby elephants as well. I ventured to the bird hide and saw them up close (about 10 meters away) with only a flimsy fence between me and them. About the closest I have been to elephants and not in a vehicle.
Late afternoon we headed for one of the local dams. Only residents of the camp have access to these dams and as there are only 7 huts that means traffic is pretty limited. As it is very dry up North we were hoping to see some game there and we weren’t disappointed. There were elephant, impala, hippo and crocs. In addition there were lots of birds and we managed to add a whole lot of new ones to our trip list. Still no lifers for the trip even though we are up to 87 birds so far in 3 days. Our target for 5 days is usually 100 birds and so I would now be disappointed if we don’t reach that at least by tomorrow and hopefully pass it even. We did see at least 2 birds were could not identify and need some professional help with them (we have photos of at least one) so they might be the lifers we are hoping for.
On the way to the dam everyone was searching for a cell signal and Helen said if we get it everyone would be happy stopping there rather than at the dam! As it turned out, on the way back we did get a signal and did stop for a minute or so until another car started to approach and we knew we had to move off (the roads are pretty narrow and really only single lane). We also needed to get back to the camp as the gates close at 6pm (we got in at 5:57pm).
Braai, reminiscing, Michael mimicking the Spar announcer again (and his school teachers as well) and we all went to our respective rooms. 10:42pm. At 10:30pm I had finished the blog and tried to publish it and as I did it gave me a can’t find signal and I had to re-type most of it. It had fortunately automatically saved about 25% of it. I think the 2nd version is better than the first. Sorry – no pictures as connection too slow and camera in car. Will try to upload some tomorrow assuming they don’t block the WiFi!